After two days marred by mediocre lunches, I was counting on Aqua to deliver a top-notch meal, and that it did, allowing me to ascend into a state of reverie. Texturally and technically, this meal exemplifies immaculacy. In an effort to avoid overpowering the seafood’s subtlety, Chefs Manique and Boyd garnished plates with broths and vinaigrettes, flouting French sauces along the way. Deciphering each ingredient in a course, moreover, amounts to an Augean task, even for the most astute foodie. Aqua, I would submit, is a sine qua non for Bay Area foodies.
Sweet lobster wedges topped with an acidic vinaigrette inaugurated the meal.
The sea urchin custard, when spooned with the broth, literally dissolved in my mouth, leaving not even the faintest trace.
Insofar as this dish’s aesthetics, Chef Manrique allowed nature to be the true artist, sort of. As I stare at this dish, it vaguely resembles the scene one might find underneath a tree in the Berkeley Hills while mushroom hunting, save for the buttery potato puree ravioli and the risotto burrowed underneath.
I used the langoustine sushi as a mop, sopping up every last drop of the miso purée.
No, that is not a horribly charred scallop. For my taste, however, it was overcooked–I prefer, not unreasonably, a warm, slightly rare interior.
The cod constitutes one of the smallest main courses I have countenanced; nevertheless, the unctuous sunchoke and egg yolk made for satisfying fare.
The meal’s pièce de résistance–the black truffle. For all its pungency, the black truffle was not the best part of this dish; no, that would have to be the rich chocolate mousse.
Pros: Knowledgeable servers, reasonably priced tasting menu, and memorable preparations
Cons: Infinitesimal portions, and a noisy dining room