Aqua Nueva draws influences from the very best of Spanish cooking.
To be drinking and dining in the sun-drenched plazas of southern Spain’s gorgeous little towns is, truthfully, my idea of heaven. And whilst that doesn’t sound immediately achievable in the heart of central London, let us introduce you to Aqua Nueva, a delightful spot which marries Regent Street glamour with traditionally-inspired Spanish cuisine. They’re currently offering a pair of incredible menus that capture Iberian sunshine on a plate, so whether you opt for the tomato-led Tomatina Menu, or dive into Aqua Nueva’s free-flowing La Fiesta Brunch, I think you’re going to leave very happy indeed.
Let’s start with the Tomatina a la carte menu, which draws inspiration from one of Spain’s most famous celebrations: La Tomatina festival. Taking place every summer in Buñol near Valencia, this world-renowned event sees visitors partake in a gleeful tomato-throwing fight. As a result, Aqua Nueva have taken the tomato as the hero of their special menu, with tapas so delicious that there’s no way you’ll be throwing them anywhere. The cured sardines and Penjar tomatoes on crystal bread are a refined take on a classic, although admittedly it’s hard to draw my eyes away from the manchego, black truffle, and sun-dried tomato jam croquettes.
The rest of the menu is sprinkled liberally with mouthwatering treats – how do suckling pig tacos with grilled baby corn, or chargrilled octopus with saffron potato and tomato foam sound to you? The Valencian influence even makes it onto the dessert menu, where the berry salad with pear and raspberry mousse and hibiscus sorbet has been cleverly designed to look like plump, freshly-picked tomatoes. Oh, and Aqua Nueva’s bespoke cocktail fits the theme, too. The Tomatini is a playful riff on the classic martini, and uses Tanqueray gin, apricot brandy, sugar syrup, and tomato water to create a complex yet rewarding cocktail that perfectly complements the menu. You can book a table here.
Meanwhile, if you pop along to Aqua Nueva for brunch, you’re going to be equally delighted by what you find. La Fiesta Brunch is available on Saturday lunchtimes only, and for £40 per person, you can enjoy a selection of tapas inspired by southern Spain. Starting with salmorejo (a classic Andalusian soup), the brunch moves on to crystal bread and aioli, Spanish tortilla with a piquillo purée, and a selection of snackable croquettes.
Save some room for the rest, because after a platter of Spanish skewers (with paprika-marinated chicken, chorizo and chimichurri, and seared salmon in a sherry dressing), you’ll be invited to munch on raspberry churros, which you’ve just got to dunk into a rich Pedro Ximénez chocolate sauce. And because this is a London brunch, you can of course make it bottomless, with the choice to add 90 minutes of limitless cava, sangria, or Agua de Valencia: a cocktail of cava, orange juice, vodka, and gin. Make a brunch reservation here.
Whilst everything on the plate is utterly enchanting, we shouldn’t overlook the splendour of Aqua Nueva itself. The striking interior décor, with lashing of gold accents and elegant lighting, is centred by a glorious cocktail bar – but up on the roof is where you’ll find the restaurant’s true hidden gem. A charming roof terrace overlooks Regent Street, and when the sun shines and the cocktails flow, it’s just like perching on the rooftop bars of Valencia.
Either of Aqua Nueva’s excellent menu will have you leaving with a smile on your face, but don’t hang around too long to book: the restaurant regularly freshens up its menus to hero a different region of Spain and style of cooking, so the Tomatina Menu and La Fiesta Brunch won’t be around forever. You can make your reservation here, and then prepare for an unforgettable meal!
Also published on Medium.