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Fruits of the Sea

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How do you like your oysters? Chilled, with lemon and cocktail sauce? Roasted a la Rockefeller, drenched in bacon, spinach and white cheddar?

I like them any way I can get them, but particularly plain, chilled, and as fresh as possible. And that’s what Jay Chadron over at Aqua Oyster Bar & Lounge has in store for his customers. The new spot opened quietly last weekend, with a grand opening planned for this Friday and Saturday. I popped by last night to visit with Jay, check out the new space, and sample a few bites of his fruits-of-the-sea menu.

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The first thing I noticed when I walked into the sleek, modern space at 925 Lincoln St. (inside the Beauvallon at the south end) was the glowing 600-gallon saltwater reef that anchors the rectangular bar. The smallish space offers bar seating, regular tables, and a row of moveable banquettes and cocktail tables that serve as dining areas or cocktail and conversation pits. A corridor leads past the kitchen and restrooms to a fairly spacious rear lounge where Aqua will host DJs after 10:30 p.m. It’s an all-in-one date night layout. Champagne and oysters at the bar, salad and seafood nibbles in the dining area, and dancing and romancing in the rear lounge.

Chef Jose Guerrero’s menu offers an unusual selection of small plates of seafood, salads, and desserts, so don’t expect any surf and turf here. (Adde Bjorklund of Adde’s Catering and formerly of Bistro Adde Brewster, also consulted on the menu’s creation.) Instead, make a meal out of several courses of smaller items. Order oysters a la carte, a cup of lobster-corn bisque, the excellent red snapper and octopus ceviche, and a bowl of steamed mussels. The salmon in puff pastry with wild mushrooms, wilted spinach, and citrus-mustard buerre blanc will satisfy a heartier appetite, as will the grand shellfish platter with a whole lobster, whole crab, plus oysters, clams, shrimp, and ceviche. Order a glass of the Piper Sonoma Blanc de Noir, and it adds up to a wonderful seafood feast.

The only downside to the menu is that it lacks options for those with seafood allergies or aversions. Other than the mix & match salad (you can select 7 items from a list of 28) and the desserts, it’s all seafood, all the time at Aqua. Not that I minded during last night’s visit. I’ll be back this weekend during the opening festivities where customers can try a tasty and generous complimentary sampler platter (salmon in puff pastry, oyster shooter, mussel, clam, and three types of sashimi) plus a complimentary house martini (the Key Lime martini is their specialty and was designed specifically to accompany seafood). That’s a steal of a deal.

The lounge and dance floor in the rear is open, but still a work in progress. Once the final details are added — including a waterfall over the rear bar — they’ll host a separate club opening to celebrate again. I’ll be happy to attend both events.

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