On leaving tourist-thronged Argyll Street to check into the Aqua ‘concept’, you’re greeted by a dark, sinful-looking lobby. Take the lift to the fifth floor, where, after bypassing Japanese restaurant Aqua Kyoto, you arrive at the large, glitzy dining room and terrace of the Spanish part of the operation.
The location, hybrid offering and high prices (expect to blow £80 on a tapas lunch for two, including a couple of glasses of house wine) may make diners wonder who all this is for – but the stylish presentation and panoramic views temper such misgivings.
Pan con tomate was big, rustic and bold, with the required garlicky kick. Sardines with sun-dried tomato and creamed cheese terrines were also moist and moreish. Braised cabbage wrapped in pancetta and served with morcilla sounded amazing, but didn’t quite live up to expectations. Apart from a £22 ham platter, no cold dishes were on offer during our visit – on a hot August lunchtime.
Wines range from a decent £9 glass of albariño white to high-end Riojas; the dessert menu is well stocked with small, creamy classics. Service needs some work: staff stood around with quickly-cooling dishes, looking lost, until a maitre d’ came to sort things out.
5th floor, 240 Regent Street, entrance on Argyll Street W1B 3BR
Telephone: 020 7478 0540
website: Aqua Nueva
Lunch served noon-3pm Mon-Sat. Dinner served 6-10.45pm Mon-Wed; 6-11.15pm Thur-Sat. Brunch served noon-3pm Sun