Enjoy the Renaissance of Aqua Grill
I don’t know why I had not met Kevin McDuffie before last week. He’s one of the owners of Aqua and during our recent dinner together we realized we’ve known the same people, gone to the same events, and followed a similar joyous path in Rehoboth for over 20 years.
Needless to say, Bonnie and I had a great time dining with Kevin on the newly redone deck at the nicely renovated venue. It was a busy Tuesday night, sweatshirt weather, with a healthy crowd and a terrific band playing.
Here’s a scoop. Aqua, always known for great drinks, hunky servers, and hot (in all senses) happy hours, now has wonderful food, too. It doesn’t hurt that the menu was designed as a collaboration with Rehoboth superstar chef Lion Gardner (formerly of the Blue Moon) and Kevin, who loves restaurant dining, growing produce and herbs behind Aqua, and making both Baltimore crab cakes and key lime pie.
We sat at my favorite corner table by the street, where we could hear the band (Hot Sauce) but still hear our own conversation. We learned all about how Aqua survived COVID by using tenting, following the rules, and doing the best they could. Now, everything is back in full swing, COVID requirements are lifted, and the place is set for a banner summer season.
Naturally, we started off with cocktails, including Aqua’s signature drinks—a Rose Kennedy-like pink drink (yum) and the delightfully-named Helen Haze, with cucumber vodka and pink lemonade. Brilliant AND yummy.
Then, an amazing thing happened. Kevin asked if I wanted to use the QR code to get the menu. Do I lie? This writer had no idea how to do that. I know, I’m old. But I was willing to learn. I’ve seen the codes for eons, but never bothered to use this technology. Kevin instructed me, and voilà! I saw the menu and learned a new skill. Although our server Clay brought us a hard copy just in case.
As for the dining, we sampled a variety of fare, including the warm soft pretzels (warm and soft as advertised) for dipping in the Buffalo Chicken dip—spicy hot! The pretzels are also great in the bumpy mustard served with them. Then there were the really tasty, perfectly crispy crab cake egg rolls with Asian slaw. While we didn’t try the Loaded Waffle Fries appetizer, the crunchy waffle fries did come with our crab cake sandwich—so imagining them under the crab, melted cheese, and Old Bay seasoning is not difficult. Next time!
Both of our sandwiches, the crab cake and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (an enormous, hang-over-the-bun cutlet), were delicious and were presented beautifully. I loved the classic Caesar salad with my sandwich, which bodes well for the menu’s salad selections, featuring locally sourced (even from Aqua’s back garden) ingredients.
Aqua combines quintessential bar food (but gourmet in preparation!) with healthy salads like a Caprese, Greek and Aqua Cobb. And they make their own dressings, in-house.
Despite not needing one more bite of food, we succumbed to taking at least a taste of the Key Lime Pie, made by Kevin himself. Awesome. Thought I was in Key West, minus the cruise ships. Luckily. Save room for the pie.
By the way, that big gorgeous Aqua deck is also the site of yoga on Sunday mornings. Who knew? I love the idea.
So here I am, looking forward to my next Aqua visit…yes, for the drinks, yes for a gorgeous night under their gigantic umbrellas, yes to see all my friends after all this time—but this year, it’s also to dine on the goodies from the Aqua kitchen. And that’s good news, indeed. ▼