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Agua Edinburgh – Hotel : Restaurant
Apex City Hotel, Grassmarket : Restaurant, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Apex Hotel Edinburgh +44 (0)131 474 3466
The introduction to Agua is metropolitan chic, full-height full-width glass doors between rendered castle-like walls. To the left is Apex City Hotel’s long cool reception desk and dignified seating area; to the right is lounge, bar and tiered restaurant in that order from the street. My wife enjoyed waiting in the lounge’s comfy seats viewing the Castle, Grassmarket and, internally, the bar: she was checked on by three different staff so didn’t feel neglected.
Agua – like its sister restaurant Metro – is cleanly detailed and with a strong contemporary feel. Compared to Metro though, the spaces are lower and more private. The relationship of spaces is strong and successful, especially the private restaurant on split level and the outward ‘preening’ zones of lounge and reception.
Agua’s bar forms the hub of the spaces and is simply rectilinear. The large icebox integrated into the end of the pale marble bar is a celebration of drinks and style. The illuminated timber-glass back wall to the bar adds warmth and reinforces the overall timber feel.
The decorative timber inner walls of the Apex City Hotel restaurant include full-height doors and at the far end a neat waiter servery is cut out, bathed in light from a concealed strip light.
The palette is dark brown wood, mostly vertical strips on walls (reminding me of Aalto, or, closer to home, George Square’s University Library) which add rhythm and good acoustics. The floor is also of dark wood in the restaurant – and limestone towards the street – with dark grey buckskin-upholstered banquettes, sofas and chairs; the parapet wall between the restaurant levels is lined with dark wood veneer panels and the tables are charcoal squares.
The dark feel is illuminated with concealed lights overhead and white surfaces. From the banquette one’s eye can be too easily drawn up to the lighter soffit and vent grilles; the view the other way is of a series of square black-and-white photographs. In summary the feel at the Apex City Hotel restaurant is of solid quality materials with restrained use of colour.
Black & green marinated olives, bread, butter: presented in a simple wide white bowl
My wife had roast duck with frazzled parmesan shaving decoration: strong taste of duck, with whole cloves of garlic. The parmesan looked great but it’s flavour seemed at odds. The portion was generous.
Finnan oysters with a choice of three accompaniments – I went for garlic and olive oil, wonderfully presented in rotation of three a la Isle of Man on a bed of dill, parsley, endive and lollo rosso. What a start!
My wife had the roast lamb on a filo basket, a pleasant contrast.
I had scallops and langoustines on a lovely leek mash base with a light sauce.
Bruschetta of mixed vegetables/fruit topping with molten mozzarella – these are large, a meal in themselves, a nice touch but a bit ‘café’ compared to the main course finesse.
Green salad: green peppers, courgette and green cabbage, a refreshing and successful mix, a rarity to see green cabbage in this environment.
My wife had Tiramisu with strawberries and redcurrants, great tastes and superb decoration.
I had an even more decorative dish: white-and-milk chocolate solid laced topping teetering on ice cream floating on a toffee-laced cream base. It tasted nice as well!
Service & Impressions
BAR: The cream marble bar top is butt-jointed with a marble frontage creating at once both a decadent and restrained feel: this ‘sophisticated flair’ is augmented by the champagne poking out of the large icebox and the glowing backwall.
TOILETS: clean and stylish, light grey mosaic as in Metro, with discreet concealed lighting using a brushed steel reflector that forms a sill above the sinks; accessed via a ‘concealed’ full-height timber-lined door from the restaurant.
RESTAURANT: Service was prompt, and there is a cosy secretive feel. Music tends is modern and funky, slightly too loud for us.
Agua’s menu has a solid feel (like Metro’s) and coloured burgundy to match the overall palette (table cloth for example) with a relieving light green ribbon around the spine.
Cutlery is perfectly simple, plates are white and generous, salt & pepper glass bowls – with matching 10 o’clock small spoons – a joy: good attention to detail. Little red glass candles add life plus colour and work with the burgundy cloth cast centrally over the tables.
We really enjoyed our meal at agua due to the mix of good design and good food. The Apex City Hotel restaurant is contemporary and perfect for a cosy lunch or intimate evening meal.
Location: Apex City Hotel, 61 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
Four-star Apex City Hotel is by Ian Springford Architects, as Apex Hotel & Metro
agua was created by converting the former Bank of Scotland’s Uberior House office building into the Apex City Hotel. agua features 119 bedrooms including 3 suites, meeting facilities, bar and restaurant.
The restaurant opened in mid-2002 and provides a refreshingly modern alternative to the typical Grassmarket pub.
agua dining review 2003
Metro Apex Hotel, 31 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
Well located Edinburgh hotel plus one of Edinburgh’s most spacious restaurants: a long triple-height space is carved out with partial views of the street.
News excerpt re Apex City Hotel
Ian Springford Architects have just finished refurbishing the restaurant on the top floor of the Apex International and the Apex City Hotel (old Uberior House building in the Grassmarket) is underway and due to open mid-summer
Comments / photos for the Apex Hotel Restaurant Architecture pages welcome