Descending the steep hills of Sydney’s lower North Shore can be a daunting task. Keeping your eyes on the road while trying not to be distracted by the expansive vistas of our glorious harbour can prove a challenge… but fear not! If you do take a tumble, you may find yourself rolling all the way down the hill to Aqua Dining. A perfect spot to lick your wounds, grab a Bellini and break bread with the ‘who’s who’ of instagram.
With a view to rival any overpriced high-end restaurant, Aqua Dining keeps me hoping that the establishment’s rental overheads don’t cut too far into their produce budget. The atmosphere isn’t too stuffy, and patrons don’t appear to be overly hoity toity, they just clearly have nicer apartments than me. Wait staff are attentive without being obsequious.
My wife and I are both having 3 courses, which are offered for $79 on weekends. This price seems reasonable, although one should note that at least one course must either be a dessert (yawn) or cheese (I can live with that).
An amuse-bouche appears packed with ocean fresh ingredients, fashioned into a micro cone. A hint, perhaps, to indicate where their specialties lie.
What Sydney Rock Oysters lack in size, they tend to make up for in flavour, and these six of Aqua’s finest, with freeze dried raspberry and white balsamic were no different.
For me, the star of the show arrived early on, as the Smoked Trout Agnolotti with Asparagus and Lemon Gel made it’s grandiose appearance. Coming in at 60g, it’s smaller than one would have hoped for, but I begin to think no amount of this pasta would ever leave one completely satisfied. Five stars.
I quickly leaned over to the plate of a dinner mate to steal a snap of the Risotto with Taleggio and Kumquat, because, well… it was beautiful.
For mains, my wife and I shared our selections to split the risk. This proved a shrewd move, as the Wagyu Beef, with Cucumber, Black Garlic and Puffed Barley lacked the depth of flavour and quality I’d normally associate with such a cut. Perhaps this is where the rent kicks in.
Conversely, the Lamb Neck with Eggplant, Yoghurt and Chervil melted like a middle aged divorcee at a Michael Bublé concert, more than making up for what was lost on its predecessor.
It’s easy to find a restaurant with positioning such as this that rests on its laurels, catering to the less adventurous with an almost clockwork-like sense of automaticity. Aqua dining appears to cut slightly above this, and I feel their menu exudes a true and honest sense of pride.
Save it for a special occasion.
Northcliff St & Paul Street