Restaurants & Bars


cabrales | Feb 27, 2004 09:00 AM

I have an average meal at Aquagrill recently. I'd visited several times previously over time for the restaurant's oysters, but had rarely sampled the other items on its menu.

-- Billi Bi French Mussel Soup, with saffron, cream and potatoes -- Our dining party of four shared two orders of this, resulting in a substantial portion for each diner nonetheless. I liked this soup. The mussels had noticeable sand/external grains inside them, and that detracted from their otherwise appropriate-tasting flesh a bit. However, the soup texture was nice, conveying cream and white wine, but not being too heavy. The small diced potatoes were nice and not soft.

-- Fresh Maine Sea Urchin, with shaved scallions and citrus soy (special; $10.50) -- Two urchins with their uncooked flesh were included in this dish. The Maine variety is a bit gentler and less urchin-taste-imbued than the Santa Barbara variety. Perhaps slightly creamier in texture as well. I added a bit of fresh lemon jus, and avoided the served-on-the-side soy, which was too severe for the urchins and a pairing mistake on the part of the kitchen. I enjoyed this dish though, in part because I have an interest in sampling fresh sea urchins from different parts of the world.

-- Oysters -- I'm not sure this is specifically mentioned on the Aquagrill menu, but a request for an oyster sampler brings one of each oyster available at the restaurant for the meal in question. That meant more than 20 oysters, shared among our dining party. The oysters were generally good -- perhaps not as good as I've sampled them at Aquagrill previously. Also, relative to the time when Aquagrill had just opened, there are no longer the XXL or XL sizes of oysters, in general.

-- Bouillabaisse, with poached cod, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallop and lobster, in a garlic saffran tomato broth ($25). I was very full by the time this dish arrived, having eaten more than 1/2 dozen oysters. The dish comes with two pieces of long-shaped bread, with a lot of aioli on them. The broth was too salty and (I rarely have this complaint with bouillabaisse) significantly too concentrated. The lobster included was 1/2 of a very small lobster, the way I like North American lobsters, and was cooked to an appropriate level. However, the other items in the broth and the broth itself did not particularly appeal to me. I was too full to meaningfully sample some of the items in this dish.

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