A Taste of the Med at the revamped Aquum in Clapham

03 Feb 2017

“White leather seats, mood lighting, flair bartenders” – this is the description that surfaced after typing Aquum into my Google search bar, and I’ll be honest, I was slightly confused as to whether I would in fact be heading to a club for a round of Jägerbombs or for a civilised, sit down meal. I think the fact that I vaguely remember walking past the place on my way to Infernos once upon a time, many moons ago - I promise - made me think the former.

I also read of a complete top-to-bottom renovation, which in my mind, regardless of situation, carries positive connotations. As far as I’m aware, no one refurbs their 911 Porsche Targa 4 GTS with the engine of a Fiat 500. Interestingly, the encompassing theme of the makeover is The Mediterranean, specifically Greece, which did bring me to question whether I’d be dipping yet another lifeless falafel into a watery, lacklustre tzatziki.

Upon entry, we were instantly greeted by a lovely lady who swiftly took us through the mainstage dancefloor, up some stairs and into the dining area. The atmosphere was a little stilted – most probably because we were the first ones there. When I say 7pm I mean 7pm.

After being seated, we were shown the cocktail menu, which, by the way, was longer than a grilling from your mum about your latest lover. Our poisons? ‘Fairy Tale Fizz’ and ‘Twinkle’. Suffice to say, they went down a treat.

We opted to stay true to Greek culture by cherry picking a selection of meze: a mixture of small dishes we could both share. Probably my favourite method of eating, sharing small dishes among friends, is the perfect way to give an overall tickle to those taste buds. With a zing of lemon here and a pong of herby meat there, there’s no better way to eat the entire circumference of a menu.

Like the red carpet at The Oscars, our starting meze glided out with ease. First, a handful of homemade breads accompanied by Tzatziki and the most delectable dip ever called Htipiti, which consists of roasted red pepper and feta cheese. Absolute decadence. With that, Smoked Cheese Arancini, Spinach Pie and a Halloumi Martini.

By now we were filling up. I’d put that down to the bread we had so eagerly inhaled earlier on. But alas, the show must go on – and boy did it. The penultimate round to this Athenian feast comprised of Chargrilled Lamb Rump and Mediterranean Sea Bass. The lamb stole the show; it was soft, tender and had the perfect fat:meat ratio, although I’m afraid I have no quantitative calculation for that, it’s just an opinion.

To bring it all to an end, pudding. Or should I say Galaktompoureko? In short, an enriched, eggy sabayon topped off with flakes of filo. Naturally, we asked for two spoons because isn’t that cute?

For me, Aquum is a classic case of ‘don’t judge a book’, in that I judged heavily prior to my visit simply due to its appearance and now wish I hadn’t. Naughty me. Yet I still find the décor and ambience particularly strange; I think sectioning off the restaurant entirely would allow for a more relaxed setting, rather than pumping out dancefloor bangers into the diner’s ears. For sure, we weren’t quite smashing plates, but it certainly smashed my expectations.


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