When it was Union, I went, but only to the rooftop bar for drinks.
Now it is Akwa, I went, but only to the rooftop bar for drinks.
I have never eaten food in any incarnation of the restaurant space next door to Jiraffe that is currently called Akwa in Santa Monica. For some reason, no matter who owns it, who runs it, or what kind of cuisine is served, the restaurant inevitably earns a reputation for overwhelming prices for underwhelming food. It must be a curse on the space.
So, when friends threw a Sunday afternoon party on the rooftop, encouraging us to come with the added benefit of food from the restaurant, I paid no attention to that last part. I was going anyway. Lazy house music on a rooftop? Yes! Drinks? Yes! Food from Akwa? Uh, didn't you just say drinks?
Akwa’s rooftop is semi-protected. Neighboring buildings on either side and behind rise higher, enclosing the rooftop space on all sides, but leaving it open above to the Santa Monica sky. We went upstairs and headed straight for...the djs. It would have been the bar first, but it would have been rude not to say hello to our hosts ;)
The bar and bathrooms (good thinking to build the rooftop’s own bathrooms on the part of the architects) are set “inside” on one side. It looks like when the space is closed, the “inside” area can be closed off with doors as well. We ordered Round One and sat down with friends at one of the many tables pushed to the perimeter to make room for the dance floor. It was early. No one was buzz-y enough to dance. Yet.
The far end of the rooftop, opposite the entrance, is raised, almost as a second story. Under normal weekend evening circumstances, this is probably the VIP area where the bling-bling glitterati sit, look down over the entire space, and scope out targets. Or, is that just the K-clubs? ;) But Sunday afternoon, there was no TheMatrix-clad security guard at the base of the tiny flight of stairs, so we ascended where no un-braceleted plebeian treads on Saturday nights. *eh* Just a small space set up like two living rooms with couches, cocktail tables, and menus for “bottle service.”
As the afternoon wore on, the party launched into full gear. Oh yes, there was dancing. Oh yes, there are stories that should not be repeated, but the true takeaway from Akwa is this: when the music is loud, when the bar is three people deep and you are at the front, never ever order a mojito. Ever. A mojito is not a club/bar-friendly drink. A proper mojito requires quite a bit of work by the bartender. She has to muddle granulated sugar with fresh mint leaves, which requires sweating it out a bit, not to mention she has to find that blasted miniature baseball bat in the first place. And for goodness sake, never ever order a mojito for yourself and three more for your “crew.” That’s just a bar brawl waiting to happen.
Stick with a Cosmo, you sexy thang, and save the mojitos for your pool-side Havana cabana.
1413 Fifth Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401