Amaranth @ Aquum, Clapham High Street
Pad-thai... in a nightclub? Okay then.
Offering a delicious and extensive menu of Pad Thai, Amaranth at Aquum was like a dream come true for Itchy - Asian food AND cocktails. Hello.
The nightclub interior is surprisingly clean (we sort of imagined everything would be sticky - that's what nightclubs are like, right?) and pretty, well... blingy. There are crystals hanging from the ceiling, lights pulsating in a rainbow of colours (slightly distracting) and massive silver-framed mirrors everywhere. It feels like some sort of European beach-side hangout, to the extent that Itchy was genuinely surprised to see Tesco out of the window when we looked up from our menu, rather than golden sands and blue seas.
Decor aside, we recommend the vegetarian platter to share as a starter, as although there is a hige selection of snacks on offer, you'll want to save some space for the main event. The platter provides a nice little taster of what is to come, with vegetable dim sum, tempura and statays.
Itchy was pretty overwhelmed by the mains list - noodles, rice, curries, all prepared freshly on the premises. It was a bit much for us, especially after a cocktail, and we ended up shutting our eyes and jabbing our hungry little finger at the menu. Luckily, we were pretty damn pleased with the results. A flavoursome Beef Rendang with coconut rice was just what we needed at the end of a long day. The side of Broccoli Garlic (which Itchy noticed was misspelt in the menu - you can take a journalist out of the office, eh?) was perfectly crunchy with just the right amount of garlic - we weren't overpowered by it, but the flavour was very much there. The Chicken Phad Himmaparin was simple, tasty, fresh and healthy - minus the grease we associate with these sort of dishes. Due to the cashew nuts, it was pretty filling - but not so much that we had to stagger home uncomfortably.
In fact, we still had a bit of room for dessert. The angst of choosing a pudding has been removed, as there are only 3 choices - a fruit platter, a selection of ice cream or a selection of sorbets. This suited us down to the ground, as we really just wanted a little sweet something to cleanse our palate. Despite originally being a bit dubious, we actually fell in love with the green tea ice cream, so if you've got a sweet tooth and you're drinking, just have a couple of scoops of that to accompany the delicious cocktails. (We recommend the Hibiscus Kiss - decadent champagne, pear vodka and elderflower decorated with a pretty flower... one for the ladies!)
The only thing that jarred about Aquum for Itchy was that really, it's a club. So at 9pm the lights dimmed and the music got a little louder. So, if you're after a night out post-meal, it's ideal. If you want to have a DMC with your lover... not so much. Although, there are plenty of dark corners if you've had enough of conversation... ooh. We're not sure why, but the Eurotrash decor even seems to work with affordable pad-thai. Maybe it's just because the food is so damn tasty. (Either that or we were hypnotised by the lights.)