77 Stanley St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

Aquaviva's is new and unique. If you're after something special and different then this is the place to go. Its good value for what you get too! It's an interesting venue with lots of different areas downstairs and upstairs.

It's old world with a real wow factor on entering with beautiful timber everywhere and a sprawling bar. There are also comfortable lounges scattered around and a pretty courtyard out the back - perfect for your pre-dinner drink. Then go upstairs to the restaurant area - nicely furnished and understated class. There's even an outdoor balcony upstairs and a rear deck.

We started with the "Fat Green Olives" marinated in cinnamon, garlic and chilli. They were so plump and tasty! We also had "This Afternoon's Ciabatta" - house made ciabatta made fresh that day with oil and vinegar. The bread was extremely fresh but the vinegar and oil combinations were amazing. We had raspberry vinegar in Parmesan infused olive oil and also cinnamon infused balsamic vinegar in olive oil. So nice!

Of course a great drink is always a good way to start any night and mixologist extraordinaire Paul has created some unique ones here! Mlady tried a Disaronno Sour - made from amaretto disaronno, lemon juice, maraschino juice, sugar syrup, brandy and egg white. Even though Mlady loves amaretto she still said this was a lovely drink. Being a huge Deep Purple fan any drink called Smoke On The Water has my attention. It was a complex mix of gin, vodka, rum, cointreau, tequila, lime juice, lapsang souchong syrup and coke. It was amazing - and yes it did smell and taste of smoke - but in a nice way! They have a really good wine list here as well that has been carefully put together.

Next to arrive was Meat on Bone. Wow. This was an amazing dish to eat and to see! It looked like a beautiful flower arrangement! Almost to good to eat. It consisted of the thinnest slivers of port cured bresaola, house smoked tomato pieces and small portions of salted curd all displayed innovatively on a large bone. It tasted so good too.

Then we moved upstairs for the main part of meal! Trust us - why not do what most people here do - trust the chef - the talented Christopher Bell. 

We started with chicken liver parfait served on toasted home made rye bread. It came with a cream of champagne corn and onion, caramelised onion and salted thyme popcorn all served on a slate. It was an incredibly light dish with such a great combination of flavours. The concept with these heavily deconstructed dishes is to re-assemble the food when eating it. The flavours are designed to be eaten together. Next was an amazing combination of squash, zucchini and pumpkin in so many different guises it was like every mouthful was a new meal. 

Then there was the char grilled green prawns cooked in the shell which helped them hold their flavour. 

The prawns were so crisp on the outside that you can - and are even expected to - eat the shells with the meat. 

You can even eat the heads too - although they do provide a pot for these if you can't go that far - which we didn't.

The prawns came with red grapefruit portions and almond foam. They were delicious. 

The prawn meat was still extremely tender and all the flavours fused so well together. 

Then there was what I thought was the dish of the night. At least for me it was - although there were a few that went close. 

This was the lamb that was braised for six hours in whey. It came with cabbage, mint, thyme salt and fennel puree and finely diced Spanish onion.

I was in heaven and for once in my life - speechless (which is very rare)! It literally melted in my mouth. 

We were told that this dish had previously been removed from the menu to keep things seasonal but it had to be brought back due to demand. I could see why! We had one more main which we didn't photograph - another amazing treat again.

Finally the Christopher Bell take on watermelon and ice cream - with a twist of course. 

The watermelon was chilli salt and sugar cured - so unique and memorable. It came with house made honeycomb, fresh basil and gelato infused with coconut, tamarind and basil seeds.

This was a party in our mouths! It was not like any watermelon we'd ever had - it was so vibrant. 

All the flavours complemented one another and it was such a great finish to such a special meal. 

We finished downstairs with yet another creation from Paul. This time it was a golden cobra - named after the coffee bean. It was perfectly strained so that it ended up completely smooth.

The manager of Aquaviva's, Quentin, pointed out that different makes a difference. Aquaviva's has so much innovation, atmosphere and charm. The service is excellent from start to finish. It's obvious that a lot of love and care has gone into the making of this fine dining experience - including the decor. The restaurant has an old world charm with a rich ambiance that can be enjoyed with a special someone or with a group of friends. There are plenty of different places in Aquaviva's to rest and relax and enjoy.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Aquaviva's. Special thanks to Karl and Viv Fernandes and their family and also to Quentin, Paul and Christopher Bell.

Christopher Bell and Quentin (Manager)

Co-owner Viv Fernandes
Mixologist - Paul

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