Aqua Nueva, the Spanish restaurant from Aqua Restaurant Group has welcomed Executive Chef Mateo Garcia Leiva as he leads the kitchen team with new dishes inspired by autumn’s vibrant Saffron Festival – Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafran.

Mateo is honouring saffron in dishes from smoked eel, to red mullet and rice pudding. The festival is traditionally celebrated in Spain at the end of October when picking season begins, with the spice derived from the flowers that grow in Consuegra’s region.

Inspired by Catalan street food and traditional Spanish flavours, Mateo’s new menu is strongly influenced by his time growing up and cooking in kitchens across Spain – from his family’s Tarragona restaurant to the five-star Le Méridien in Sitges, followed by four years under chef-mentor Jordi Cruz at Barcelona’s three Michelin-starred ABaC.

ABaC is widely considered one of Spain’s finest restaurants thanks to a menu that marries Mediterranean traditions with a modern sensibility and the highest quality produce, Mateo has distilled his experience into his cooking ethos, in Aqua Nueva’s new menu. 

Available as a saffron tasting menu or a la carte in which the highest quality saffron from Spain’s world-renowned Castilla-La Mancha region takes the centre stage, Mateo serves ALL I PEBRE to start, traditionally a beloved dish served from the Valencia region; the refined starter features a fragrant saffron infused eel bisque poured over a bed of smoked eel, sauteed pumpkin and saffron sofrito; before moving on to a vibrant main course of pan-fried RED MULLET, SAFFRON POTATO AND SAFFRON SUQUET; inspired by “Suquet” which is Catalan fishermen’s all-time favourite – fish and seafood stew. For dessert, Mateo presents ARROZ CON LECHE WITH SAFFRON, MANGO; a play on the traditional rice pudding which is a long-favoured dessert in Spain, enjoy this modern twist with flavours of saffron and cinnamon, garnished with a fresh, crispy mango and rice tuille. 

Aqua Nueva’s bartenders shake ‘Saffron Fiesta’ in mixers; a cocktail with saffron-infused Calvados, ginger syrup and orange bitter for guests to sip alongside snacks at Aqua Nueva’s charming bar.

Alongside the Saffron dishes, Mateo has created an a la carte menu with tapas to begin that include; Catalan Fuet Cone with Fried Quail Egg – served in a bitesize filo pastry cone filled with fuet, a traditional cured meat from Cataluna and topped with white egg crisp; and Cod Brandada, salted in house with crispy cod skin and burnt Seville orange – followed by larger dishes and paellas to share like Prawn Paella with Huelva Prawns, Squid Sofrito; and Pan-Fried Scottish Turbot with Caviar, Cava “Espumosa”, Cauliflower puree. For dessert, guests can opt for Mateo’s take on the Classic Catalan Cream with Caramelised Popcorn & Pineapple Granita; or his twist on the traditional Eton Mess with Sangria Sorbet. Wine pairings curated by Group Wine Director Francisco Nevot are also on pour and showcase Spanish winemakers and grape varieties.

Saffron Festival at Aqua Nueva will run until the end of the year, excluding NYE. Priced at £35 per person for three courses, or available individually from the a la carte.

Bookings can be made by calling 020 7478 0540 or visiting

Aqua Nueva

5th Floor, 240 Regent Street (entrance 30 Argyll Street)