The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I, along with our friends Sweet Polly and Underdog, visited Aqui the first time during their soft opening. This was before the menu had been finalized and a few kinks worked out. Yesterday evening my bride and I returned to the kitchen at 17814 Gulf Boulevard, Redington Shores.
Our timing was most propitious since we beat the crowds that began in earnest around six. We found convenient parking right in front and we had the restaurant pretty much to ourselves. This afforded us the opportunity to chit chat with our lovely server Nicole, Alejandro from the kitchen, and Louie, the gregarious owner.
Cocktails were the first order of business for us and we were eager to try several, starting with the super spicy Caliente Margarita for me, and the fruity and delicious Mango Margarita for the Belle. The Caliente was spiked with jalapenos and the Mango had chunks of ... well, mango.
A diner who preceded us had written a glowing review of the Tableside Guacamole, so we knew that would have to be our appetizer choice - and, an excellent choice it was. Alejandro was an expert guac maker and it was an added treat to watch him in action.
We were able to choose how much of each condiment we wanted included with our guac which was seasoned to perfection. It could have used a bit more jalapeno for my taste, but my bride said no to mucho mas caliente. Alejandro used the traditional molcajete with a matching tejolote.
The Tableside Guacamole was served in the molcajete with a side of fresh and crispy chips. It looked like a lot of guac, but the Belle and I emptied the bowl just short of licking it clean.
While our entrees were being prepared my bride and I sampled two more margaritas: a Strawberry for her and a more traditional for me with the Reposado. My 'rita was muy bueno with the aged tequila instead of the white tequila. I had considered another reposado until I spied the Michealada with Negra Modelo. This is now officially my favorite beverage at Cocina Aqui. This is Cocina's take on a sangrita with the liquid from pico de gallo married with the Modelo. It looked like a tall glass of iced tea, but that is where any similarity ended.
Oh, yes ... our entrees. For mi esposa the Pork Enchiladas were ever so tender and flavorful with a sauce that she described as piquant, and there was definitely plenty of it, especially with the side bowl of pintos and rice. I had a bite of this puerco enchilada and would consider ordering this dish for myself on our next visit.
For this visit, though, I was enticed by the Lobster Enchiladas, bits of lobster meat in a rich and creamy cheese sauce that might have benefited from a few more lobster bits. It was still a tasty and filling dish.
With all food and beverages consumed on this visit, I was pleasantly surprised that la cuenta was just $101.49. We had no qualms about adding a 20% plus gratuity.
Hasta la próxima vez, buen provecho.