The grub guide – Aqua Restaurant, Howth

Alison Rothwell

 When it comes to wanting the freshest seafood, stunning views and an overall luxurious dining experience, there’s only one choice; Aqua Restaurant, Howth.

The last time I dined here was while I was celebrating my 21st birthday and with the combination of the staff, the atmosphere and the spectacular food, it was amazing. The staff go the extra mile while serving and attention to detail is paramount.

Location: 10/10

This is definitely a destination restaurant; with the stunning sea views and the top class food, it’s a place that requires a visit. Aqua overlooks the bay in Howth and as it’s located right on the water, it gives the illusion that you’ve just stepped into the dining hall on the Titanic. With Lambay Island across the sea and the rest of Howth in the distance, if you’re lucky enough to have dinner here and witness the sun going down it makes for a spectacular dining experience.

Howth is only a 15-20 minute drive from the city and is accessible by Dart and bus. For special occasions, like a graduation, it is ideal.

Atmosphere: 8/10

The sea views are enhanced with the floor to ceiling windows. It still has a warm, cosy atmosphere even though you feel so exposed to the elements.

A reservation is vital and even when you have one, you will most likely be waiting for your table. The waiting area is a gorgeous bar beside a fire, where you are provided with an assortment of nibbles and can order a drink while you wait. This is a lovely introduction to your dining experience.

The Food: 9/10

One of the aspects I really like about the menu choices here is that they change so frequently depending on what top quality seafood they have at the time. A lot of the seafood used is caught locally and all of the salads are made using ingredients from their own garden on Howth Hill. They offer stunning vegetarian options and despite not being vegetarian, I opted for a vegetarian main course because it sounded so appealing.

While you wait for your food, you are given fresh sourdough bread accompanied by gorgeous pesto and sea-salted butter. This combo is almost too nice and I had been previously warned not to fill up on this, as it’s a little too easy to do.

Mussels are hard to make amazing, but the starter option of mussels I got were by far my favourite dish. They were so flavoursome, with loads of garlic and butter sauce all over. The starter size is huge and it is accompanied by some more gorgeous freshly made bread.

By the time main course came around I was starting to feel full. I chose the pasta dish; rigatoni alfredo with baby spinach, black olives and parmesan. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the sauce was creamy but not overpowering.

My brother got the classic fish and chips option and my God, I was so jealous when I tasted it. They were hands down the nicest fish and chips I’ve ever had. The cod melted in your mouth, with hand cut chunky chips, it was to die for. However, he did have to order a side order of chips because the amount he got was laughable.

I have only had a crème brûlée once before and my previous opinion was that it lacked flavour. This one was lightly blowtorched at the surface and creamy and delicious on the inside. Melts in your mouth. It’s accompanied by gorgeous baby meringue and raspberry sorbet.

Service: 9/10

The whole floor staff came over to our table when it was time for dessert, with a personalised dessert for my birthday. This does make you want to slide under the table at the time, but it’s a nice touch.

The waitress who was looking after our table couldn’t have done enough for us. They were so accommodating to the people with dietary requirements, nothing was too much for them. Her knowledge of each dish was noticeably excellent and seemed to be giving us her genuine opinion of each dish when asked.

Value for money: 8/10

The price you pay is very reasonable for the dining experience you get and you will be so stuffed, you’ll struggle to walk down the gorgeous curved stairs on the way out.

The a la carte menu has so much variety and they offer a very reasonably priced early bird menu; 2 courses for €25 or 3 for €30 including tea/coffee, Tuesday-Friday 5:30pm-7:30pm and Saturday 5:30pm-6:30pm. On Sundays there is a lunch menu from 12pm-5pm. We went for the Sunday lunch menu and for a lunch menu it had a lot of variety.

Alison Rothwell

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