Menus presented on iPads put quite a burden on the kitchen. As a diner scrolls through the listings, the photos of the dishes look beautiful. Can the chefs create the dishes in real time that will replicate the images?
In the case of Aqua, the free-standing restaurant in Plymouth, it’s no problem. The plates that come to the tables in the contemporary black-and-white setting live up to iPad images, and an even more important factor is that the flavor combinations are compatible and delicious.
At the tender age of two, Aqua seems to have found its identity. It has shaken off the nightclubby effects that were tried for a while by proprietor Viktor Nikollbibaj who now concentrates on the colorful Asian, Mediterranean and contemporary fare that includes a range of dishes from sushi and sashimi to pan-seared salmon with coconut-curry sauce, heritage Kurobuta pork belly and an array of interesting burgers and sliders, all served by a friendly and knowledgeable young staff.
The premise throughout the menu is fresh and housemade. The kitchen has no freezer and seafood comes in daily. Attention to detail is noticeable, from the linens on the tables to the geometric shapes of the white china plates and bowls and the thin rounds of cucumber in the water glasses.
Those who choose to sit at the black glass-topped bar will notice the quality of the glassware. Both Riedel and Rosenthal crystal stemware are used, and for those who order sushi or sashimi, there is a choice of the long Japanese style chopsticks or the shorter wooden kind. And yes, you may have silverware, should your chopstick technique lack precision.
There also is a menu of bar bites, served only there, that are very gently priced from $3 for crabcake, lamb or Wagyu beef sliders to $8 for tempura shrimp. Among dishes I especially enjoyed in two visits are the classic white miso soup with tofu and seaweed in its depths that makes an ideal light starter at either lunch or dinner, the lamb slider, the roasted beets with goat cheese mousse and herb oil, the panko-crusted avocado bites with spicy aioli, and miso glazed black cod with roasted carrots and sesame rice cakes.
Seating arrangements include black and white leather chairs pulled up to tables along one wall and also on an enclosed patio, which seems to be the place of choice lately. There also are some high-top tables in the bar which parallels the dining area.
Aqua is definitely a departure for Plymouth. It is a mile or so from the cluster of downtown bistros, and pretty much stands alone in its neighborhood, a squat black-painted building with its own parking lot as well as its own take on a contemporary fine dining menu served in a comfortably casual setting.
413 N. Main, Plymouth
Call: (734) 335-7474
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-midnight Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $13-$18, sandwiches and burgers $7-$15, sushi and sashimi $10-$25, entrees $17-$45, desserts $7-$9.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Attached lot
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding