Aug 14 2013

Aqua Shard


Aqua Shard is the third restaurant that has opened in the Shard, the tallest building in London and Europe, after Oblix and Hutong, and in my view is the worst one out of these three. Aqua Shard is the sister restaurant to Aqua Nueva and Aqua Kyoto, a Spanish and Japanese restaurants located on the top floor of a building by Oxford Circus and run by the Hong Kong group Aqua. In contrast to the other Aqua restaurants, Aqua Shard serves “innovative contemporary British cuisine”.

I went to Aqua Shard for lunch with my friend Arjun and I had a table booked for 12.15. Aqua Shard is located next to the bar in the Shard. I actually really liked the décor in Aqua Shard and thought it was better than the décor in Oblix (Hutong is very different, Chinese style, so hard to compare) with purple chairs, and what I also very much liked was that the tables for 2 were located right by the window, so you had the best view of London from any of the restaurants in the Shard. If you go there, I do recommend going there as a 2, as you will get the best view tables. The chairs are located in such a way that you just look outside, and can turn to your lunch/ dinner buddy for a chat.

Aqua Shard offers quite a good value for money lunch menu (£24 for 2 courses and £28 for 3 courses) as well as a la carte menu, where starters range from £6.50 to £14 and main courses from £16 to £33. I was a bit surprised though how very few dishes featured on the menu. As part of the special lunch menu you could choose from one of three starters and four main courses and the a la carte menu had six starters and six main courses (although when I look online I have seen many more dishes when I look at the menu of Aqua Shard, so maybe they have so few dishes as they are trying to get them perfect). But at the moment, this is the shortest menu out of all the three restaurants, but as I said it may be because when I went they had recently opened and the menu will get bigger.

The bread that the waiter brought me was quite average, and as for my starter I chose “golden beetroot broth infused with orange with red quinoa, Norfolk beets, steeped red turnips”. I thought the description of the dish was great, but in reality I got something much less impressive. There was very little quinoa, and it did not really taste like the typical quinoa I have had, also the beetroot was quite plain and the broth was quite plain. While I liked the colours on the plate and in theory all the ingredients put together, it was not that tasty and sort of let you down. Arjun ordered “cured wild seabass with summer salsa, wild mint, cucumber mousse, horseradish” and his dish looked better than my one, it was actually quite beautiful with all the different colours and they did give you quite a bit of seabass.

I chose one of the three “from the land” main courses, “Yorkshire rib-eye” with shallot yam, carrot & horseradish remoulade, watercress salad, Béarnaise sauce” and once again I was a bit disappointed with my dish. The dish cost £33 and was only 250g, so quite expensive for what you get, and the most expensive main course on the menu, although it should not have been, and it had quite a bit of fat in between the steak that I did not eat, and it just did not taste like the best steak I have had. It was cooked medium, like I wanted it, though. Also I did not like all the things that came with it, shallot yam, carrot & horseradish remoulade, watrercress salad, and I did not eat them. The idea of serving them was good, and they looked nice on the plate, but as I said, I did not enjoy them. Arjun’s main course, “from the sea” was once again better, he ordered “diver scallops from Portland with vadouvan and chicory and orange jam, dry roe, wild garlic sauce”. The plate once again was presented very nicely and Arjun said it was tasty.

We also shared some side dishes, mashed potatoes as well as cucumber and mint salad, and I was actually quite surprised about the sides they served. They did not have the sort of typical sides you would expect to see like chips, rocket salad, tomato salad, etc, all their sides apart from the mashed potatoes were a bit funky. The mashed potatoes were delicious, so smooth and they had quite a bit of oil or butter there, but I really enjoyed it, as anything with butter/ oil is delicious. I thought the cucumber and mint salad was a bit strange, it had some yoghurt in there, and the taste was actually ok, but because of the yoghurt it did not feel like the light sort of salad you want to have with your main courses, but I do admit, it was interesting.

I also thought the service was good, the waiters were attentive, they welcomed us nicely, also I was waiting for 10 minutes for Arjun and they came and checked that Arjun was not another man also waiting for someone, and overall just good. Also Aqua Shard is the cheapest restaurant out of all the ones in the Shard in my view. But because the food I thought was not as good as in Hutong and Oblix, it scores MMM, and an extra small m definitely goes for the view and the décor.

Date: 14/ 08/ 13
Location: London Bridge
Price for 2 people, no alcohol and service charge: £111

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Aqua Shard
Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
United Kingdom
Aqua Shard Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3