Friday, January 25, 2008

Aqua Terra

I'm beginning to think that restauranteurs in Annapolis haven't got an iota of common sense. Last night we ate at Aqua Terra in downtown Annapolis. My lovely step-daughter (the professional chef) had come to town; it was too late to cook at home; and we wanted a nice meal to celebrate her arrival. We settled on Aqua Terra because a) they do small plates; and b) they gave us a nice meal two years ago.

In part, the fault was ours: we should have scrutinized the menu more carefully before sitting down. We were all dog-tired, and we failed to notice that most of the small plate offerings were fried. Not until dishes actually came to the table did we realize our mistake, and so we had small plate after small plate of fried fare: coconut shrimp; asparagus in a tempura batter; scallops wrapped in bacon. Only the mussels and vegetarian spring roll were spared a fate of sizzling fat.

As so often happens in Annapolis, seafood was woefully overcooked, the scallops chewy and the shrimp tough. Even the mussels were overdone, nor were they terribly inviting--a far cry from the heavenly mollusks I enjoyed in Bend, Oregon.

Our waitress was pleasant and attentive, and she good-humouredly indulged our finicky selection of wine, bringing Meg and me various reds to taste (we nixed all of the Pinots) until we settled on a decent Zinfandel.

I like the concept for Aqua Terra--hardly any restaurants in Annapolis offer small plates--but I wish the owners would diversify the menu. They should also consider the following changes:

❅Cut back on the fried food
❅Include dishes that are sautéed, steamed, or baked
❅Quadruple the number of vegetables and grains
❅Use low-sodium soy sauce in the Asian-themed recipes
❅Halve the cooking time on shellfish

Maybe I need to quit academe and open a restaurant . . .

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