Aqua Terra (Kingston) – Legendary and not expensive either

I love Aqua Terra. I’ve eaten here maybe… 6 times. It is located within the Radisson Hotel on the waterfront so I was feeling a bit sketchy about it at first but the food is simply heavenly.

There are a couple of options at Aqua Terra. You can try the Prix Fixe menu, which costs $28 dollars for 1 starter, 1 main course, and 1 dessert. You can try the Table D’Hote which has 1 starter, 1 appetizer, one main, one dessert, for $45 dollars. Finally, you can just order off the menu. The best deal, in my opinion, is the Prix Fixe, but you can get tired of it if you eat it too much (as I have).

So here is an example of the birthday dinner that I had.

We start with a mushroom amuse bouche on a bagette to get your palate started. It was pretty tasty and a nice way to start the meal. I love it when they throw in small things like this. It probably costs them nothing but it really enhances your dining experience.

These are the scallops. They are absolutely heavenly, probably the best part of my meal. When you order them as an appetizer, you get 4 (as shown above for $12). When you get it with the Prix Fixe, you only get 3 but the size and quality of the scallops are the same. They are pan-seared and come with caperberry relish, frisee, and smoked paprika oil. They weren’t overdone, were soft and smooth in the middle, and seared perfectly on the outside. A winner.

This is the New Zealand Lamb Rack (rosemary and grainy dijoin marinated new zealand lamb rack, melted leeks, fig jam) for $32. It was one of the rare times that I have had lamb rack where the meat was done perfectly (medium rare) and the bony areas weren’t raw. It was nicley cooked and came with a lot of meat (as you can see above). The price was reasonable as well.

This is the Seafood Risotto (pan-seared shrimp, scallops, lobster tail, aged cheddar) for $26. I didn’t try the risotto but the scallops were the same as in the appetizer, the shrimps were very flavourful and large, and the lobster tail was bouncy and fresh. Another winner.

This is the rainbow trout (seared rainbow trout, mache, strawberries, toasted almonds, poppy seed vinaigrette). I love seared fish. I love seared fish with crispy skin and delicate meat. This fish was made perfectly but the salad didn’t really match it. It was a refreshing salad but I don’t think the fish paired well with it.

This is the bouillabaisse (shrimp, scallops, salmon, mussels, fennel, tomato, and fish furnet) for $11. I love saying booya-base, which is why I always order this. The shrimp was very bouncy and tasty. The scallops were not over done but tasted boiled. I preferred the pan-seared variety. The mussels were large and fresh. The broth wasn’t too salty and was quite flavourful. It was so fragrant and it truly warms your soul. Another winner!

This is the braised beef short rib (garlic confit mashed potatoes, smoked fennel, tomato reduction) as part of the Prix Fixe. The beef fell off the bone and fell apart in your mouth. I wouldn’t say that it melted in your mouth but the beef was really quite tender. The fennel was a bit blackened for me to eat. I don’t really like fennel that much anyway.

This is the grilled berkshire pork chop (apple and caramelized onion bread pudding, green beans, apple cider reduction). Interesting design and you can see my mom’s face in the apple cider reduction. The pork chop was prepared well and was very flavourful. The onion bread pudding was passable but a bit starchy.

Aqua Terra also does a brunch on Sunday mornings. It costs $18 per person and reportedly is the largest brunch in Kingston. I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the food especially when their dinner and lunch menus are so amazing. It is typical buffet style lunch food (fish in sauce, chicken in sauce, pasta in…. sauce). The seafood is only OK. The crab legs are served lukewarm and they don’t have a lot of the sweet body meat. The one thing that is fantastic is the waffles. Is $18/person worth it for fluffy, light, waffles? I think so. It is the only reason why I would come back to Aqua Terra for Brunch.

The a la carte food at Aqua Terra is amazing. It is fresh, inventive, stylish, and tasty. The value is also excellent. I think this is a excellent place for anyone to bring their significant other, their friends, or just to come in on their own. The servers are attentive and the view of the marina is enjoyable. I really enjoyed my birthday at Aqua Terra.

Addendum September 26, 2009 – Before heading back to Calgary for a rotation, I took J to Aqua Terra with a gift certificate P gave us. Again, Aqua Terra is stellar. The service is excellent, the view is good, the dining room is comfortable, and the food is well made. I must say that I wish there was a little more variability in their menu from season to season. Here are the pics:

IMG_8792This is the Arugula Salad (smoked duck, dried figs and cranberries, walnuts, baco noir raspberry vinaigrette) as part of the Table D’Hote menu (4 course for $45). The salad was a bit over dressed but the smoked meat, the crunch of the nuts, and the tartness of the cranberries were wonderful. A nice starter.

IMG_8798This is the Octopus Fritters (crisper capers, lemon and smoked paprika aioli, red oak lettuce) as part of the table d’hote menu. I was a little disappointed with this dish. I was expecting lightly breaded octopus with a bit of batter, sort of like takoyaki but this was essentially a big ball of fried dough with a tiny bit of octopus in it. Not a great dish unfortunately.

IMG_8808This is the Wild Boar Rack (turnip and apricot bread pudding, caramelized chipolini onion puree, marsala demi-glaze). Well seasoned, well cooked, and well prepared. Nothing to fault in this dish. A little tough but that may just be the nature of boar.

Addendum 2 (April 9, 2010) – Came to Aqua Terra to celebrate the union of Juru for 6 long years. Again, an absolutely solid meal. J finds the food uninventive and uninspired. I find it consistent and delicious.

The amuse bouche of a duck confit spring roll with microgreens. Technically… not an amuse bouche as it is supposed to fit in your mouth in one bite. I learned that from watching too much Top Chef. I found this a bit oily but the duck flavour was intense and delicious.

The Waldorf Salad for $12 (shrimp, lobster, endive, lemon segments, pistachio dust, green onion dressing on an apple chip). A very interesting presentation! The seafood was springy and delicious. Unfortunately, I found the lemon segment really intense and drowned the subtly of the lobster in particular. Some acid was great but I ended up removing the lemon segment. The apple chip at the end was a really nice sweet way to end each bite!

Part of J’s Table D’Hote. Named “Salad”. Has Boston lettuce, oven cured grape tomatoes, sliced pears, green curry candied pecans, papaya and moscato vinaigrette. I have never had Boston lettuce before but it is really really soft. The cured grape tomatoes were delicious as well.

The “Pasta” as part of J’s Table D’Hote with house-made linguini, lobster, fennel confit, saffron and shrimp cream. This really reminded me of that classic lobster dish you get at Chinese restaurants with a stir-fried lobster served on top of cream sauce on a bed of noodles. The noodles were nicely chewy and the lobster bouncy in texture. A very rich dish.

The Pork Tenderloin for $25 (pan-roasted pork tenderloin, leek wrapped confit of yukon gold potatoes, roasted carrot puree, dried cherry and merlot demi-glace). I love the word demi-glace. Reminds me of Fabio from Top Chef Season 5. This pork was very very VERY tender and deliciously seasoned. The cherry merlot demi-glace went well with the salitness of the pork that was charred. We thought the carrot purree was really fruity so we asked the chef about it: it was made with peach wine vinaigrette and honey!

This was outstanding: the “Beef” as part of J’s Table D’Hote. It was pucini-mushroom encrusted angus striploin, veal osso bucco dumplings, honey wagon farms sunchoke puree, caramelized shallots, veal reduction. Every part of this dish jumped in my mouth. The beef was nicely cooked medium-rare as requested and the fat was very rich. The dumplings were fantastic, essentially flat fried pancakes with veal-ey goodness on the inside, combined with a delicious sunchoke puree and shallots. I loved every part of this dish.

This is why I love Aqua Terra. The service is impeccable. As part of J’s Table D’Hote, we got to choose one of the desserts. We were so full from the meal above that we wanted something resfreshing. There were no refreshing desserts so we made a special request to have each of the sorbet/ice creams from each dessert put together. The server said that it would be OK and even mentioned that she would separate the sorbet from the ice cream so they wouldn’t mix. We were expecting 3 discrete scoops of ice cream between the two of us. When she brought it out, we were amazed. She brought us multiple scoops of all the homemade ice creams and sorbets. The brown one was the maple ice cream, the two white ones were vanilla bean and caramel. The pink one was the rasberry sorbet. All of this ice cream for two people! We were only expecting one scoop of each! And it was complimentary. I don’t usually tip 25% but this time I did. She was amazing.

I love Aqua Terra. That is all I can say.

Addendum – July 1, 2010

Two different groups of friends came to Kingston and we brought them to our favourite place for dinner. I am amazed again and again with the quality of the food at Aqua Terra.

This is the only place in Kingston that serves an Amuse Bouche. This is beef tartar. So sour and salty at once. Refreshing.

This is the Duct Confit Pizza (duct confit, caramelized onions, creme fraiche, tomato concasse, parrano cheese, asparagus, cassis reduction) for $11. To be honest, all of those words in that last sentence mean nothing to me. It sounds super fancy but honestly this was really tasty. The crust was thin and light, the duct confit was savoury and delicious. I enjoyed this a lot.

This is the Seafood Sausage (shrimp, scallops, baby greens, citrus vinaigrette) as part of the Prix Fixe menu. This surprised me a bit. It reminded me of fish cake served in Chinese restaurants. I didn’t enjoy this as much because the description really made me think of a sausage versus this blended meat.

This is the Beef Short Rib (beef short rib, blackened fingerling potato salad, french green beans, chipotle reduction) as part of the Prix Fixe. I’ve had this before and I loved it so I had to have it again. The beef is tender and really juicy. I love how you can taste where the fat caramelizes. It is also beautifully presented. I didn’t really taste the chipotle in the reduction and the potatoes didn’t seem  blackened but overall, this dish was filling and satisfying.

This is the Risotto (pan-seared laughing bird shrimp, charred corn, sugar snap peas, christophe’s wild mushrooms, wild leek oil) for $27. The shrimp was really really sweet. I am not sure where you can buy these shrimp but they are awesome. The risotto had a nice texture. I hate it when it is too mushy so this was great. Very satisfying.

This is the Ladyfingers to finish the Prix Fixe. Light and crispy. The orange syrup was really refreshing. A nice way to end a pretty heavy meal.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Man I love Aqua Terra (versus being a Turtle, an allusion to TMNT Secret of the Ooze).

Aqua Terra, 1 Johnson St., Kingston, ON, 613-549-6243, www.aquaterrabyclark.com

Aqua Terra Restaubistro by Clark on Urbanspoon

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~ by Russ on September 27, 2008.

6 Responses to “Aqua Terra (Kingston) – Legendary and not expensive either”

  1. Russ Russ,

    LOL….I was looking for the Radisson’s prix fixe menu, and guess who’s blog came up? I actually went to their buffet brunch for my birthday and was quite impressed, especially given the price.

    How’s it going?

    Methinks we should have some foodie adventures in Kingston, TO, wherever. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. Must be a Chinese thing lol.

    Sorry I can’t make it to the party tomorrow, but I’ve got an ED shift.

    Have fun!
    M

  2. Absolutely agree with you on your review about Aqua Terra. Still head and shoulders above any fine dining available in Kingston. I’ve eaten there about 6 times as well and liked it more than Casa, more than the Rivermill Inn, more than Olivea and WAY more than Chez Piggy.

    Going to try out Harvest this week in Picton…

    • Thanks for the comment Christina. I really liked Harvest but beware… the menu is slim. Fortunately, what they DO have is seasonal and interesting. Picton also has the Waringhouse Inn which is supposedly amazing. I haven’t been myself though.

      I need to check out Rivermill Inn. People talk about it all the time but I haven’t checked it out. It is on my to-do list. Or… to-eat list, so to speak.

  3. i love the sunday brunch at aqua terra! the draw back is that you get so tired after the brunch and you can’t do anything for the rest of the day! lol

  4. On our previous visit to the Aqua Terra Bistro for a Sunday Brunch, we, an openly gay couple, experienced a wonderful dinning experience. My male partner and I decided to reserve for Valentine’s dinner.

    We honoured our reservation and over-all the atmosphere was pleasant and the food excellent. The way that the wait staff tended to every need of each table, down to the sweetheart roses being presented to each, female guest, indicated that it was to be a fantastic evening.

    Our dismay presented to us when our meal was finished and the bill ($150.00) was paid; no rose. Although the rose (or a lack there of, for us) was not an expectation from us, it did disturb enough to make me want to write this review.

    Given this day in age, 2011, and higher standard restaurants still manage to alienate paying customers. We may have been the only gay couple to attend for Valentine’s Dinner, and we would certainly not recommend this restaurant to any of our friends simply due to the display of discrimination we were exposed to.

    A way that this could be corrected, to allow for every couple, straight, gay, or lesbian, to fully enjoy the thoughtfulness of their partner, would be to present every reservation with equal treatment.

    Our disappointment.

    • Patay,

      Sorry to hear that your Valentine’s Day meal was ended with a disappointment from Aqua Terra. My 2 cents: Had 2 females been dining, regardless of their sexual orientation, they both would have received roses. A female gay couple would likely have received roses just as likely as two female co-workers without dates that night.

      Two males, regardless of their sexual orientation, likely would not have received roses (as you did not). It wouldn’t matter if they were gay or if they were just two friends without dates that night.

      Thus, I would argue your experience was marred by sexism versus sexual orientation discrimination. Why the hell do only girls receive roses??? I would argue we should all get roses on Valentine’s Day!

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