Aquum Bar and Restaurant
68-70 Clapham High St, SW4 7UL.
Phone: 020 7627 2726.
For a glitzy, sparkling piece of Soho in the heart of Clapham, you can’t go past Aquum. Once inside, its pristine décor stands out dramatically against the High St. A curtain of crystals dangles from the ceiling above, ornate silver mirrors reflect disco balls and the long bar is stocked with top shelf spirits and magnums of Belvedere and Grey Goose vodka. The wall facing the bar is lined with white leather couches and tiny tables set neatly with decorative gold cutlery from Thailand.
Our waitresses are all hugely accommodating and happy to recommend dishes from the menu, which is based around South East Asian street food incorporating flavours from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The steamed prawn dumplings are delicious hot pockets of water chestnut, carrots, Chinese mushroom and bamboo shoot, perfectly complemented by the accompanying sweet soya dip and coriander. The mixed vegetable tempura –a combination of lotus root, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and baby asparagus, battered and served with a sweet chilli dip- is the ideal indulgent starter to soak up the deceptively potent cocktails.
For the main course my dining companion had the Moo Prik King, a steaming pork stir-fry made from red curry paste, fine beans, Thai round aubergine, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk and Thai sweet basil. Accompanied with jasmine rice it was more than ample for one person, though reported to be very tasty. The chicken pad thai rice noodles were zesty and –again- served in a very generous portion. Egg, tofu, bean sprouts, Thai garlic chives and crushed peanuts are mixed with mild tamarind sauce to create a flavoursome Asian dish that I would definitely opt for again.
The drinks list is hugely decadent, suggestive of late-night debauchery to follow, once the kitchen closes at 9:30pm. I’m initially dubious when I read about the bottle service on the drinks list, which includes champagne magnums, the most flashy being (pre-order only) Moët & Chandon Nebuchadnezzar, which weighs in at a whopping £1950. However later in the evening (when the venue turns from restaurant/bar to raging nightclub) we witness several bottles of Belvedere vodka (priced at £160) flares attached to them, being carried out by scantily-clad waitresses to VIP tables. Charlie Sheen would definitely approve.
The cocktails range from the classics to the exotic. The Oriental is a smooth concoction of vanilla vodka, fresh lychee and champagne while the frisky bison is a decadent dessert on its own mixing Zubrowka vodka with apple and cinnamon flavours. Trying to appear civilised we end the meal with espresso martinis (the espresso doing little to counteract the effects of the vodka and Kahlua) before returning to the bar an hour later when it’s a ramming nightclub for Sambuca shots and vodka tonics.
Prawn Dim Sum (dumpling): £5.50
Mixed vegetable tempura: £5.50
Moo Prik King: £8.50
Chicken Pad Thai noodle: £8.50
Jasmine rice: £3
Frisky Bison: £9.50
Raspberry martini: £8.50
Lychee martini: £8.50
Espresso martini (X2): £17
DISABLED ACCESS: YES
DISABLED TOILETS: YES
PRE-BOOKING: ADVISED ON WEEKENDS
FOOD (1-5): ****
AMBIENCE (1-5): ****
VALUE (1-5): ****