When Aqua opened its doors 10 years ago, it was the only place in town where one could enjoy the city's esteemed seafood in a sophisticated setting. Before Aqua, the best places in the city to sample petrale, sand dabs, Dungeness crab, and other regional treasures were low-key. The century-old fish houses had charcoal grills and no-nonsense preparations; Chinatown venues offered fresh flatfish served whole and crispy with a garlicky black bean sauce; and the Swan Oyster Depot was rambunctious and dependable, if not fancy. Aqua's elegant, intricate, creative preparations of both local seafood and rarely encountered delicacies from far away provided the city with its only upscale seafood restaurant, a species common to the Atlantic seaboard but in short supply here. In its first decade of operation, Aqua has dazzled its patrons with an evolving menu of singular flavors and textures served up in lush surroundings. Its accomplishments have earned it a place on the short-list of requisite San Francisco restaurants, alongside La Folie, the Slanted Door, Ton Kiang, Swan, Tadich... More >>>
By Anthony Pidgeon
Pour Me Another: Passers-by can drink in Aqua's grand interior through
mirrors and big plate-glass windows.