Formerly a yacht club, this is now a fine contemporary restaurant with plenty of window tables to take advantage of sea views westwards, towards Malahide, and take in the island of Ireland's Eye to the north.
What was once a snooker room is now a characterful bar with a unique blend of original features and modern additions - with an open fire and comfortable seating, it has retained a cosy, clubby atmosphere and is a lovely place to relax before or after your meal.
The restaurant is a large, bright room with white-clothed tables set up smartly, comfortable highback chairs and subtle decor inspired by the history of the building and maritime themes - constantly evolving, it is a source of pleasure to regular diners who frequently notice small changes.
The kitchen is behind a glass screen, so you can see the team of chefs 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 local beef, reared on nearby Lambay island, is a 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 new focus on seasonal local produce too, as the restaurant has taken an allotment on Howth Hill which now supplies as much of their own vegetables, herbs and potatoes as possible.
This County Dublin restaurants menus offer a pleasing repertoire - deep-fried calamari on spiced tomato sauce with warm pesto is a favourite starter, and the house Caesar salad is also popular, served as a starter in the evening or with chicken as a main course at lunchtime; Aqua Fish & Chips is always popular too, and risotto and pasta dishes both make regular appearances. 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; however a special lobster menu is available in season, offering a range of much more accessible lobster dishes.
Vegetables may be charged extra (it is wise to ask what comes with your main course), and run of the mill desserts may appear to be bought in.
Although choices on the lunch and early dinner menus are restricted (and may sometimes include some disappointments - 'Prawn Cocktail' for example, is made with tiger prawns, not the delicious local Dublin Bay prawn or langoustine), they offer very good value and ensure a busy restaurant at off-peak times - and are understandably popular with the loyal local clientèle, who also love the jazz lunch on Sundays.
The waterside location, local ingredients, cooking that is never less than enjoyable and interested service 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 people going back.