Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Atlantic


The Atlantic
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9698-8888

My birthday celebrations started a week early this year!  Yes, I am having a little party next weekend, but last night we had a fabulous family dinner at Donovan Cooke's new restaurant, The Atlantic.


The Atlantic is yet another new high-end restaurant in Crown, taking up an enormous space on the river between Nobu and Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons.  I must admit I was a little nervous visiting a relatively new restaurant for a birthday meal - special occasions always carry a big weight of expectation, and I'd had some not-so-positive experiences from other high-end restaurants in Crown.  (Interestingly, I've always had good experiences at the in-house Crown restaurants - Number 8, JJ's etc., and it's only been the independently-run restaurants that have ever let me down).  However, The Atlantic came strongly, strongly recommended by a couple we know who are incredibly well-traveled and love high-end food.

The menu, which changes daily, is almost exclusively seafood based, with only three mains that don't include seafood.  The rest of the menu is divided into: Oysters, Caviar, Cold and Hot Starters, Premium Fish Selection (both on and off the bone), as well as Salads and Sides.  They follow an "ocean to plate" philosophy, with seafood being sourced "from quota driven areas as set by the authorities".

In keeping with the menu, the restaurant is styled with nautical touches.  I love these water glasses!



From where we sat - "The Cabins" - I had a great view straight into the open kitchen.

Open Kitchen
The whole restaurant is a very slick operation, despite only being open for a short amount of time.  From the staff handling our reservation, to the concierge (I'm never sure if the correct term is maître d, captain, or simply manager), to our waiter and the sommelier, we were treated in a very professional and friendly manner.  Small touches, like having staff greet you as you walk through the restaurant, contributed to the lovely atmosphere.  Our waiter and sommelier were very much across the intricacies of the menu, and were skilled in judging what we needed - whether it was more time, a helpful suggestion, or even a place to hang our coats.  Food and drinks were brought out impressively quickly, and we were never left waiting or struggling to catch the attention of waitstaff.

We started with a round of cocktails.  (Y'all know I can never resist a cocktail!)  The Atlantic has a very impressive drinks list, with custom cocktails and a good selection of (pricey) wines by the bottle, by the glass and by the half bottle (yay!).  (You may remember my previous post about Moortangi Estate - their Old Vine Shiraz is also on the wine list.)

The cocktails are designed to go with different items on the menu, but we just drank them as aperitifs.  
The Sparkling Oyster Cocktail - a Peychards soaked sugar cube sunken in a sea of sparkling wine with a float of Grand Marnier. $20

Port Phillip Punch - Makers Mark bourbon, port, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup. $18

Fisherman's Margarita - Herradura blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, sea salt. $18
All the cocktails we chose had clean, sharp flavours, and worked really well as aperitifs. The margarita sure packed a punch!  We didn't visit The Den bar downstairs, but based on these cocktails, I'd really like to try it out!

With our mains, we ordered a half-bottle of Beauroy 2008 Chablis on the recommendation of the sommelier. With only two of us drinking, we were originally going to order by the glass, but then the sommelier pointed us in the direction of the half-bottle page, where we could get a similar amount of wine, but of better quality.  The wine had that oaky aroma I love in white wines, with a crisp finish - it complemented the food well.  At $58 for the half-bottle, it was quite expensive, but not more so than if we'd ordered three separate glasses.

And now, the food.  For her entrée, my mother ordered the trio of crudo - a refreshing, light dish with incredibly fresh fish.
Trio of Crudo - kingfish, yellowfin tuna, New Zealand king salmon, pickled cucumber, diakon (sik), horseradish, lime. $32
Both my father and I went for the famous seafood cocktail.
Atlantic Seafood Cocktail - crayfish, scallop, crab, prawn, iceberg, rockmelon, green apple, basil, soft boiled quail eggs. $35
In the seafood cocktail were generous pieces of scallop, crayfish, prawn and crab, with teeny-tiny cubes of fresh fruit in a lightly creamy sauce.  The cubes of fruit provided a nice touch of sweetness - absolutely delicious.

For her main, Sandra ordered the Pure Black Angus Sirloin, and declared it the best steak she'd ever had in Australia!

300g 200 Day Grain Fed Dry Aged Pure Black Angus Sirloin. Sea salt, olive oil, lemon.  $48
My parents and I each chose from the "on the bone" section of the menu - whole fish available wood fired, roasted or steamed with a choice of sauces.  The fish were presented very simply - just placed on the plate with a wedge of lemon and a bowl of the sauce.  It is a very confident move by Cooke, to prepare such a simple dish, and let the quality of the produce speak for itself.

Roasted Garfish (Port Albert, VIC) with salsa verde. $44

Roasted Rock Flathead (Mornington Peninsula, VIC) with buerre blanc.  $39
Dad ordered his flathead with buerre blanc, and they brought out the antiboise sauce by mistake - no matter though, as it was almost immediately replaced when we informed them.

And my baby snapper!  Recommended by our waiter as his favourite of all the fish on-the-bone.
Wood-fired Baby Snapper (Queenscliff, VIC) with buerre blanc.  $44 
Each fish was amazing, and I absolutely loved the buerre blanc.  It was a little tricky eating around the bones (especially the garfish!), and despite eating fish on the bone since I was little, it still took a bit of work and time to actually get the flesh.

Aah... there we go.
As for sides, we got a simple green salad, and the creamiest mashed potatoes I've had in a long time.  (I shudder to think how much butter and cream there was in the mash!)  Both sides were very strongly seasoned, so I'm glad that our mains were delicately flavoured.
Mixed young leaves - French dressing, tarragon, chives, shallots. $10

Mashed Bintje Potatoes - butter, cream, nutmeg. $10
The dessert menu doesn't appear on the website, so I was excited to see what would be on offer.  Desserts range in price from $19 - $25, and are based on classic, unchallenging combinations, with a hint of fun - exactly what we were in the mood for.  (I am not sure if the dessert menu is constant or changes regularly).

Strawberries & Cream - layered shortbread, lemon mascarpone, strawberry salad. $19
My dessert comprised three very thin shortbread discs, sandwiching a creamy lemon mascarpone with a dash of strawberry sauce on the inside.  On the edges of the plate were little piles of diced strawberries, cubes of strawberry jelly and dehydrated slices of strawberry too.  Wonderfully fresh, and I loved the different gradients of strawberry flavours and textures.


Rum & Raisin Sandwich - valrhona mousse, cookie, chocolate croquant. $20
My parents shared the rum-and-raisin sandwich - two chewy dark chocolate cookies sandwiching creamy ice-cream, with a quenelle of rich chocolate mousse and some rum-soaked raising to the side.  I had a taste, and found it too strongly alcoholic, but it would have been perfect for lovers of the rum & raisin flavour combination.

Vanilla Panna Cotta - quince, pear, nougat, fairy floss. $19
The panna cotta layer in Sandra's dessert was well executed, but when combined with the fruit and fairy floss, the overall effect was a little too sweet.

Finishing off the meal were coffees and a little sweetmeat...

In the below jar was a delicious chocolate-and-peanut-covered crunchy caramel.  It was kind of like a dime bar, but better.  So addictive!


And that was our meal at The Atlantic!  We had a fantastic night, and really couldn't fault anything.  I can't wait to come back and try more from the menu!

The Atlantic on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Sinead said...

Oooo everything looks so so yummy! Jealous!

Michelle Chin said...

Wow, and I thought that atlantic was just another seafood restaurant. :) Indeed, it is not.

susan said...

Looks like a great place for a birthday dinner! I wish wine was less expensive in these high end restaurants though :(

msihua said...

OO.. I'm so glad you enjoyed this place! There's been such negativity clouding the wonderful food here :)
But I have to admit, it is incredibly pricey !