Enjoying one of the best coastal locations in the Dublin area, this former yacht club makes a fine contemporary restaurant with plenty of window tables to take advantage of sea views westwards, towards Malahide, and the island of Ireland's Eye to the north.
On the other side of the building, overlooking the harbour and the fishing boats that may well supply your dinner, there is a cosy bar with a stove in what was once a snooker room - hung with specially commissioned artwork inspired by local scenes, it makes a lovely place to meet and relax before or after your meal.
A large, bright room that is smartly and very comfortably set up for diners to get the most possible enjoyment from a meal here, the restaurant is extremely popular with local diners - who especially appreciate the value offered by lunch and early dinner menus.
The kitchen is along the back wall of the restaurant and behind a glass screen, so you can see Head Chef John O’Connell and his team at work, adding to the interest of a meal.
The style of cooking is strong, simple and modern; given the location, seafood is the natural choice but a balanced range of dishes is offered and local beef, reared on nearby Lambay island, is another speciality when in season.
Fresh fish and seafood comes mainly from suppliers on the pier, and individual local fishermen also deliver products such as crab and lobster directly to the door - and there is a focus on seasonal local produce too, as the restaurant has an allotment on Howth Hill which supplies as much of their own vegetables, herbs and potatoes as possible. There's also an interesting online supplier list that is well worth a browse.
This County Dublin restaurants menus offer a pleasing repertoire - a very good house chowder is a favourite starter, also a lovely chicken liver parfait, served in the classic style with toasted brioche, redcurrant jelly and Aqua Garden salad.
Aqua Fish & Chips is always popular too, while prime fish and shellfish are specialities on the à la carte, at a price - grilled lobster may be up to €60 for a large one, although several sizes are usually offered and there are many other seafood dishes, including several combinations (hot and cold platters), at more reasonable prices. A special lobster menu is also available in season, offering a range of much more accessible lobster dishes.
Although choices on the lunch and early dinner menus are restricted, they offer very good value and ensure a busy restaurant at off-peak times - and the loyal local clientèle also love the jazz lunch on Sundays.
The wide ranging wine list includes an extensive house selection, many of which are available by the glass.
The waterside location, local ingredients, cooking that is never less than enjoyable and pleasant service under the personal direction of MD Charlie Smith all make dining at Aqua a pleasure; à la carte menus offer a much wider choice of dishes, although they are pricey - it's the value of the set menus that keeps many people going back.