So I’ve just returned from Spain, have a little colour to my skin and all I can think about is Spanish cuisine. The warm Andalusian sun on my face, copious amounts of wine and food made for conversations. With all that in mind I recently visited one of London’s top high-end Spanish restaurant just a stones throw from Oxford Street, Aqua Nueva. A glitzy modern restaurant which is looked after by the very talented head chef, Yahir Gonzalez.
Head chef Yahir Gonzalez is originally from Mexico, but trained in Spain and moved to London to first open Aqua Nueva as sous chef. It’s a stunning restaurant inside. Very glamorous, dark leather chairs, accents of bronze and copper, a sumptuous bar and a choice of two terraces.
We sat down to our lunch and a glass of Champagne quickly made its way over to the table, along with our first dish which turned out to be one of my favourites and paired beautifully with the glass of bubbles. A scallop ceviche with jalapeno granita, bergamot, hazelnuts and a hazelnut emulsion. The actually scallops themselves were stunning and of excellent quality, while the jalapeno granita added freshness and a good hit of heat in the mouth. By far my favourite element was the hazelnut emulsion which balanced everything so well. If the restaurant ever needed a signature dish – it should be this.
Having eaten our weight in classic tapas on our recent trip to Spain, it was lovely to try the more contemporary and modern side of Spanish cooking here at Aqua Nueva. When a dish on a menu refers to itself as award-winning after a tasting challenge it triumphed back in 2016, it always leaves my expectations way above what they should be – but thankfully these black seafood ali-oli croquettes were absolutely legendary and well worth the accolades they received. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and the inside smooth and charcoal black – along with an unforgettable flavour.
Another lovely and fresh dish was the Iberian tomato salad with watermelon, goat’s curd and mustard vinaigrette. There was even a clear thin tomato gelatine draped across the entire dish for extra tomato essence.
Saddle or rabbit with pancetta, wild mushrooms and bean cassoulet was yet another explosion for the senses, offering a mixture of perfectly cooked moist meat and a rich creamy sauce with so much depth. The seasoning was spot on too.
By now we’d got to that point where the food coma was slowly starting to settling in, but that wasn’t stopping us – especially when this mouth wateringly good grilled duck breast arrived. Served with a Morello cherry puree, beetroot and kaffir lime yoghurt. I wasn’t completely sold on lime element with so many other heavenly flavours on the plate already, but either way this dish was outstanding – with or without the lime.
And the meat seemed to keep on coming. Two dishes in particular were the star courses of our afternoon and two which convinced me why Aqua Nueva is one of London’s top Spanish restaurants. The fillet of lamb came served pink and juicy, with a modern take on an empanada and rosemary sauce. The other was suckling pig from Segovia, an area of Spain most famed for its suckling spit roasted pigs. The meat was served with glazed parsnips, peanuts and Moscatel grapes. These were two truly fantastic dishes.
We finished up our meal with a bottle of sweet wine (yes a bottle) from Malaga and a dessert which looked as if it belonged in a Michelin starred kitchen. A glossy milk chocolate mousse & Cointreau cake with peanut crumbs, caramel white chocolate and popping candy. I’m not overly keen on the latter, but as a complete dish it was astonishingly good. The perfect way to end our lunch and long afternoon.
I really loved my meal at Aqua Nueva and am so glad I finally visited, having only abused their gorgeous terraces once before. If you fancy a special Spanish meal then this London restaurant couldn’t be more perfect. Whether for a casual lunch with family, romantic dinner for two or tapas on the terrace. If this looks far too modern for your Spanish cravings then do remember – they also have a classic tapas menu offering. Yet another reason to return.
PS: There’s a competition to win a meal for two at this fabulous restaurant and ends 1/8/17! Head over to my Twitter and find all the details in the pinned tweet. Good luck!
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.