The Atlantic – ocean to palate
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman St
See also: Second visit review.
It is quite easy to be sucked into a whirlwind chase of the latest offerings, and doubly hard to be patient in waiting for the hype to plateau out. But as I have learnt, this means you will probably escape the initial teething problems, and have the luxury of checking-out-other-blogs before you tread the water.
Given some of the unenthusiastic reviews early on, there remained a cloud of doubt regarding The Atlantic. People continued to pour into this place, with a string of more reassuring reviews following. I am not sure if it is the scarcity of seafood beacons around Melbourne, or the fact that Chef Donovan Cooke holds the fort here, but there is just something about the restaurant that continues to beckon me, despite the lingering pessimism. Just as well this turned out to be my surprise destination for my birthday celebration a couple of months back (*cough – yes, I am that far behind posting at the moment). A little surprised? Certainly. How did it fair? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out…
In line with its Ocean-to-palate concept, the décor is to say the least nautical – wooden panelling, hues of cool blue and dangling fishnets. Though it is quite gloomy at night with only pockets of light from the jellyfish-like fixtures, the service is laudably warm and attentive.
Slow cooked paprika marinated octopus – provided small tender bites of lightly spiced octopus with a dash of earthy saltiness from the ligurian olives and Ortiz anchovies. A creamy “green” puree, capers and rocket added textural contrast.
I really, really enjoyed the Warm crayfish salad. The juicy Pacific freshness was apparent with each mouthful, accentuated by the subtleties from the grilled artichoke, zucchini, black olive oil and crunchy bits of almonds and crispy shallots.
A completely off topic side note: disproportionately large plates can sometimes make or break the look of a dish, and I remain ambivalent about whether I like it. Your thoughts?
Moreton Bay bug spaghettini – whilst the freshness is apparent, the Moreton Bay bugs were a tad on the dry side. The spaghettini is simply dressed in olive oil, garlic, chilli and parsley, with a few hidden curls of prawn. If not for the flawed bugs, I’d have completed adored this dish.
Wood fire grilled king fish – this dish could have been the breaking point for the dinner, but turned out in clear favour of the restaurant. Let me explain first that the warning from the waiter for this dish was that it would be mostly raw on the inside. My jovial expectation for a juicy sashimi core however, was spoilt by a dry-leathery flesh of overcooked fish. Whilst the wood fired charring was glorious against the sweet-acidity of the leeks and “red-sauce”, one cannot forgive the fish. I am glad that the waiter (in perfect timing) approached us to ask how the dish was – being the food snob, I retorted “it is a little overcooked”. Without much fuss, the waiter whisked the dish away to the kitchen for some examination, and returned apologetically to say a new one will be brought out promptly.
The second round was plain-and-simply worlds apart from the first. It is charred perfectly on the outside, but still raw and juicy in the middle. An impeccable piece of fish with clean but robust flavours and excellent service saved the day.
Hazelnut Parfait with Rhubarb – I am such a fan of rhubarb, so picking this from the dessert menu was a no-brainer. The crisp buttery wafers, the hazelnut parfait, sandwiched together with the soft but slightly sharp (in taste of course) rhubarb are to die for. The strawberry sorbet and dehydrated strawberry chips provides a refreshing backdrop.
Rum & Raisin Sandwich – The crux of this dessert lies between the two chewy chocolate cookies: the creamy ice cream that is intensely rum flavoured. The rich chocolate mousse and rum soaked raisins help soften the alcoholic shrill from the rum. It is strongly alcoholic but very addictive.
Rating: Yummy+1. You will be parting with a fair amount of money when dining here, but the seafood is elegantly executed when done correctly. What it lacks in consistency is made up for in the commendable service.
P.S. please bear with the photos from my obsolete camera from a couple of months ago!
I returned for more of Atlantic … here.