Aqua Neuva is a 5th floor Spanish tapas restaurant opposite the London Palladium. As we’re pantomime regulars, we’ve tried several times to book, but December always seems to be blocked out with private events. However, a spring trip to the Piccadilly Theatre to see Moulin Rouge (excellent by the way), resulted in availability and as it was a Wednesday, we had the option between the a la carte and pre-theatre menus, but also Neuva Nights, which offered free flowing cava, wine or passionfruit martini for 90 minutes along with a specially selected tapas menu. At £85 per person it certainly wasn’t cheap, but a birthday was on the horizon and as cava fans, we decided we could get value for money.
On booking, I’d played the ‘old and a bit deaf’ card and asked for a table in a quieter area. We were therefore delighted with our circular booth which would have seated four. The cava flowed admirably from the outset and each time our glass was replenished I took a photograph to document the number of glasses I managed to get through (I won’t share but it was a good amount, with my friend lagging behind only by a glass).
The menu comprised of seven tapas which were served automatically, followed by a choice of three mains, and finally churros and chocolate sauce. Our favourite tapas, padron peppers, were large, hot and deliciously salty, whilst my least favourite was the Galician style octopus, served on what appeared to be a roast potato, which I found a bit rubbery and tasteless. Croquettas of mushroom and ham were tasty but small, but pork skewers with a little crackling were wonderful. Shot glasses of beetroot salmorejo were served with sardines on toast (or as the menu described them cured sardines, penjar tomatoes on crystal bread) and although I asked the waiter the difference between salmorejo and gazpacho, he failed to come up with the answer despite offering to check twice. Google later revealed gazpacho is a mix of vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumber and garlic) while salmorejo should only include tomato and garlic.
For my main, I chose confit cod with a potato cream, black olives soil and semi-dried cherry tomatoes – lovely and soft, but only a couple of mouthfuls. The slow cooked lamb with sweet potato puree, kale and lamb jus, was a more generously sized portion.
However, the finale of churros were excellent, hot and crisp with a generous amount of chocolate sauce, in fact so generous, we dunked in the small square of brownie delivered with a birthday candle.
With service charge of 12.5%, this is definitely a one off. Whilst I’m glad we eventually got to try it, and it was nice not to have to spending time choosing, I felt the flavours were a little lacking for my palate. We have definitely eaten better, and much cheaper tapas, however, somethings just have to be done (once!).