Aqua Cafe - North Wollongong, NSW
I had the Irish cream milkshake to begin with and ended with a barista made coffee, and in between had some red wine and drinking water. What was more interesting were the dishes served at the Aqua, a long time institution in North Wollongong, popular with cyclists, couples and groups, and the company I had. It was a relaxing arvo, when rain had come down in most of Sydney but not in the Gong, but the Tasman Sea looked only a shade of its true self on a summer's day.
Above, the seared South Coast prawns served on a roquette salad with avocado, Italian relish and balsamic dressing. Andy and I had this and there was no regret absolutely - the prawns were juicy and tender, not over done and literally melted inside my mouth. The relish was sufficiently provocative and yet reassuring. Below, the salt and pepper squid, which Nancee chose, with a sweet balsamic dressing generously poured over - but what captivated me was the macerated mango slices with fresh mesculin ( a mix of young salad leaves including lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens and raddichio).
The risotto above, chosen by Vinu, was presented with a bed of rocket, while below, the really red tomato slices celebrated the flathead fish and chips, garnished by a Mediterranean styled canopy of capsicums, lettuce and sweet Spanish onion slices (Chye had this).
Other items that caught my eye are the Fritto Misto ( a rather nice name for a variety of fried sea foods);
the Aqua Cabernet Merlot; the hazelnut milkshake; the guava fruit frappe; the freshly made pineapple juice; the veal escalope; the Scotch fillet wrapped in pancetta; pan fried mussels with garlic and parsley accompanied by vermicelli; and the seafood marinara served on pasta shells of conchiglioni. Aqua also distinguishes itself in providing a choice of entree or mains servings for many of its menu items.
The Aqua Cafe is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My impressions of my most recent visit to the Aqua, with a mate, Penang and California relatives, are:
Taste: Rather fresh ingredients used and up lifted the outcomes of each dish ordered.
Service: Friendly but one does wait for over the average time in other restaurants, so do decide early.
Ambiance: Compact space, looks more cafe than restaurant but the food is more restaurant than cafe.
Location: We can see the ocean just a stone's throw across Cliff Drive in North Gong, and those ever present container ships queuing their way to enter Port Kembla. provides both indoor and outdoor seating.
Innovation in Cuisine: I thought this was good.
Overall: It makes the most of Australian seafood and produce, gives a Mediterranean twist and is worth a try.
Would I return? Yes.