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Aquagrill no more

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I excitedly took a group to Aquagrill, once one of my favorite seafood places in the world,
raving all the way. As a former NY'er I've had many meals there but hadn't made it back in 3 years. The verdict: I'll pass from now on.

These people serve a lot of seafood and I used to marvel at how fresh it was. But that's changed. The Maine whelks were still dirty, for example. That wasn't the case when I had them before. There were oysters that had lost their texture that no one should ever serve.

The service is spotty. My waiter would disappear for long stretches of time, forget to bring drinks, etc. And the busboys constantly want to take dishes with food on them.
They resent requests for anything. Most of our interactions were with them and they're downright belligerent, making no attempt to please or communicate with diners.

I now think the place is about average and will head to Soto or Yasuda instead.

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  1. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, but it couldn't be further from mine. I hadn't been to Aquagrill in a couple of years, and took my in-laws on Good Friday (Catholics = fish on GF). We arrived an hour early for our reservation and took a seat in the (tiny) lounge area for drinks, until we were seated promptly at our reserved time.

    Started with fantastic oysters - Wellfleets that were just briny enough without a hint of fishyness or salt, and Kumomotos that were sweet and perfect - plus a half-dozen littlenecks. Two other apps for the table, but I was too busy on the oysters to notice. Mains - John Dory for me, sea scallops with dungeness risotto for my wife - were some of the best seafood I've had in years, and made me regret all the time I've spent of late having grilled fish at Greek places. Excellent desserts, and service that my in-laws couldn't stop praising through Easter dinner.

    And the kicker: for five of us, probably three drinks each, oysters, appetizers, entrees, and two desserts, the total came to $450 including tax and a 20%+ tip. I couldn't imagine complaining.

    1. Wow, that's too bad. I was there in February and had a quite positive experience, described here:


      I found the service to be very professional and gracious, bus boys included.

      1. i've always been ambivalent about Aquagrill...while the oysters and fish have always been fresh and the service professional, i've always found the vibe and general attitude just a bit cold and corporate, as if it belongs in the Time Warner Center, rather than on a cute corner in Soho...which is odd since i've heard the place is family-owned...

        i don't dislike it, and i've never had a "bad" experience...but given my great love of raw oysters and simply prepared fresh fish, i don't go there anywhere near as much as i might...it's merely my vague and subjective impression...

        1. As mentioned it was once one of my favorite places around. They serve about 1200 oysters per night and I am convinced that their quality control could be tightened up.

          Spending 450 dollars to eat food with dirt in it
          is not something I would care to repeat.

          1. epop, thanks for the report. We went last year and had a good experience. Sorry yours was not a good one.

            1. Sorry to hear that. I had a good experience here so I hope this was just an isolated incident.

              1. Sorry to hear of the bad experience. It happens. It shoudnt but it does.. Hey i had a bad experience at Le Bernadin. a $1500 tab and it was bad, But I;ll definitely go back as it had been my favorite for years. Aqua Grill is my usual seafood spot and i havent had a bad experience yet. Give it another try. I dont see the correlation of Yasuda or Soto to Aqua Grill however.

                3 Replies
                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Higher quality control of the seafood at Yasuda.

                  I'm understating the problem with the oysters at Aquagrill...

                  1. re: epop

                    Aquagrill is one of my go-to neighborhood restaurants.
                    Eating there is not a religious experience, but it is a reliably good meal with a professional staff.

                    1. re: epop

                      My experiences at Aquagrill have been nothing short of terrific every single time. Whether I am in with my family, my girlfriends or alone I have been welcomed warmly, served impeccably and fed delightfully. I have never had a problem with any of the raw bar offerings, nor have I felt as if I had wandered into some corporate dining room.
                      That said, it would do far more good, epop, to call Aquagrill and speak with one of the managers about your concerns rather than simply rant on an anonymous internet board.
                      Most proprietors appreciate feedback - good or bad.

                  2. This is one of my favorite restaurants for years. We traditionally have dinner there (usually at the bar) the night before a vacation. I agree with the suggestion that if you had an off night, a detailed letter to the restaurant is in order. We did that once at Union Square Cafe (we are not really complainers, but everything went wrong that evening), got a letter of apology from Danny Meyer and a dinner on the house. Suffice it to say we are still fans. Let Aquagrill make it up to you.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: susan robin

                      I did in fact contact them and the host was very apologetic. He said that the owners would contact me about my issue but they never did.

                      I don't appreciate the charge that I ranted. All I did was report on my meal, my one recourse as a consumer. As I said I understated the nature of the problem there.