Aquagrill Review

I love seafood.  I don’t know why-it’s just something that is so versatile to me.  As rich as New England clam chowder, or as light as hamachi sashimi.  As decadent as a fried clam roll or as virtuous as steamed halibut.  As comforting as cod cakes or as exotic as wok seared Thai snapper.  Seafood is just great for a gal like me, who is greedy and can’t make up her mind.  Gee, my boyfriend is just SO lucky to be with me, hunh? 😉

I have heard Aquagrill has some of the best fish in the city, so…well, duh, I went there!

There was a small, sort of oddly configured dining room.  It honestly seemed a bit cramped.

But we were seated in the screened off outdoor dining section, which was spacious and lovely. I love the feeling of being outside without having to deal with weather or bugs! I know…I’m such a Jewish American Princess.

First, we were brought three kinds of bread along with some excellent garlic perfumed olive oil:

Onion foccacia-AMAZING!  Soft, gently caramelized onions atop pillowy foccacia. Easily the best bread of the trio.

Jalapeno cornbread-very good, unsweetened cornbread.  Not enough jalapeno kick, and kind of an odd addition to the bread offerings, but good.

Baguette-warm, crusty, good hole structure.  Not enough sourness for me, but great when dipped in the garlicky oil.

Manhattan clam chowder.  SO great!  A tomato based broth with softened onions, potatoes and celery.

And those CLAMS!  These babies had never seen the inside of a can, that much is sure.  Large, uneven pieces lending their salty-sweet flavor to the acidic soup, deepening its’ flavor profile.  Heavy on the oregano, light on the salt, this was a heck of a soup.

The crab cake appetizer.  First let’s start with those little croutons.  Oh, they aren’t croutons.  Oh no.  THEY ARE POTATOES!  Peeled, deep fried, french fried from heaven potatoes!  Tossed with sweet roasted beets and lightly dressed greens, they were the perfect salty, carby counterpart.

Oh, and the crab?  You mean the 100% crab, no filler whatsoever, sweet, meaty, deep fried, crusty without, melty within crabcake?  Yeah, I liked it enough to stuff the first one down my gullet so fast my sister told me she thought I was the spawn of Satan.

Bili Bi.  Bili Bi is a French cream based soup made with saffron and mussels.  Thinner than chowder, but with the same buttery, milky taste, Bili Bi is time consuming to make.  It must be creamy, brothy, fragrant with saffron, and sweet with the mussels.  Too often it is overly salty and filled with dried up, meager little mussels.

Clearly, this soup had none of these problems.  Actually-as much as it PAINS me to say this-I think this Bili Bi may be better than the stuff I make at home.  Oh it HURTS!

Yeah we just HATED our appetizers!

For my main, I got the day’s special of diver scallop ceviche with a jalapeno tomato relish.  Now, I hate to be picky, but this came topped with tobiko.  I’m really not a fan of these little fish eggs-it’s a textural thing with me.  I just don’t like eating slightly fishy ball bearings.  But I just scraped these off and then WHOA!  The scallops were SO fresh! They were positively sweet and silky.  The PEELED tomato (GAWD do those impress me!) and jalapeno brunoise gave a sweet and spicy kick to the delicate mollusk.  The cilantro oil surrounding the dish added an earthiness to an otherwise very light and sea influenced dish.  It was so delicious and flavorful-I really can’t recommend any changes.  Except doing away with those fishy ball bearings. Blech.

We also tried the North Carolina convictfish with truffled mashed potatoes, .  It is called that since it is striped like a jailhouse uniform, NOT because it resembles Martha Stewart circa 2004.  It was a sweet, firm fleshed white fish similar to seabass.  It was moist and flaky with a crisp outside and a tender inside.  It paired so well with those earthy truffles and potatoes.  Sea and earth…just love that combo.  The meaty mushroom gravy was full of body and pepper, and it was delicious with the firm string beans and roasted fingerling potatoes.  How much better could it get?  This was a wonderful dish.

In fact…this was a wonderful meal.  it was a BIT overpriced…the portion sizes were not really large enough to merit the hefty price tag.  Usually I say you get what you pay for, but this time I think you get just a teeeensy bit less than what you pay for.  The quality is insanely high, the food was delicious, the prices were just a weee bit high.  Regardless, I say go there!  Especially if you like onion-y focaccia…oh yeah baby 🙂

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