|Chef Donovan Cooke|
The Atlantic in Crown is one of my favourite restaurants. You may remember I went there for my birthday in 2011, and since then it's become one of the default destinations for special occasion dinners with my friends. I was recently invited to a complimentary bloggers' dinner there, and thought it would be a good excuse to blog about it again! This post will include selected photos from three different visits: my friend An's birthday in October 2012, my friend Adri's birthday in May 2014, and the bloggers' dinner in June this year.
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank, VIC 3006
Ph: (03) 9698-8888
So, we took my friend An for his birthday back in October 2012. We started with drinks in The Den bar downstairs - I love the bar for its cosy atmosphere, plush couches, occasional live piano music and fab cocktails. The Bluegrass Blazer we tried that night tasted like Christmas, and was served ON FIRE!
|Bluegrass Blazer - Woodford Reserve bourbon, Grand Marnier, cinnamon syrup, bitters and fire - $24|
I know The Atlantic is famous for its seafood offering, but I've always been impressed by their desserts (especially their different flavoured ice-creams). This particular dessert isn't on the menu any more, but gives you an idea of the type and standard of desserts that are on offer. It was their "peanut butter and jelly sandwich" - raspberry jelly, salted peanuts, Valrhona chocolate fudge and croissant ice-cream. Croissant ice-cream! (I grilled the waiter and he said they make it by infusing cream with stale croissants and using the croissant-flavoured cream as the base for the ice-cream.) Woah.
|Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich - raspberry jelly, salty peanut and Valrhona chocolate fudge, croissant ice-cream - $21|
When we visited in May this year for my friend Adri's birthday, The Den was closed for a private function, so we just had a drink in The Oyster Bar (more casual than the restaurant) before heading to our table in the restaurant.
|Pianist - Tanqueray gin, raspberry pure, sparkling wine - $19; Glass of sherry|
On this occasion, we were in a group of four people - we each had an entree, and then shared The Atlantic Seafood Platter (for two!) between three of us. (N.B. Non-seafood eater Sandra ordered off the "From the Land" section of the menu, as she always does - they do great non-seafood dishes too!)
It was a good thing we shared the platter for two between three of us - it was a huge amount of food, and we struggled to finish it! In addition to this two-tiered stand of seafood, a dozen oysters were included.
|The Atlantic Seafood Platter (for two)- Served chilled with condiments. Selection of freshly shucked oysters, whole prawns, Moreton bay bugs, scallops in the shell, Alaskan King crab leg, spring bay mussels - $105 per person, $210 in total|
|Oysters Kilpatrick (included in the seafood platter)|
I'm not a fan of oysters Kilpatrick, preferring my oysters natural, but the birthday girl likes them, and the birthday girl gets what she wants! She really enjoyed the oysters, so I was glad! I have to be honest though and say we weren't really wowed by the Seafood Platter overall - whilst most of the items were very fresh (the prawns were a standout!), on this occasion the crab legs were a little mushy, and we found some of the other items a little overcooked for our liking. I think we might have been better off ordering individual dishes - not only would that have been cheaper than the platter, but based on previous experience, they've also always been excellent.
As I mentioned above, I've always greatly enjoyed the ice-creams at The Atlantic, and we ordered a few different ones to try on this night. The "selection of seasonal sorbets" included blackcurrant, white peach and apricot, and they were all very impressive. The fruit flavours were all very strong and pure. Gorgeous!
|Selection of Seasonal Sorbets - blackcurrant, white peach and apricot - $16|
One of the desserts on the menu came with cheesecake ice-cream, and we were all really wanted to try the ice-cream, but weren't interested in the dessert itself, haha. We asked our waiter, and he kindly checked with the kitchen and said we could order a single scoop of the cheesecake ice-cream! Yay. From memory, I think they charged about $5 for it, similar to the per-scoop price of the selection of sorbets on the menu. It was beautifully smooth and had a nice prominent cream cheese flavour.
|Single scoop of cheesecake ice-cream|
And now onto the bloggers' dinner in June! We began with champagne and cocktails in The Den...
|Red Blush Julep - Maker’s Mark infused with strawberry & vanilla, Orange Bitters, Mint|
NV Laurent-Perrier Brut - Tours-sur-Marne
... before moving upstairs for dinner.
|From the Field - Plymouth Gin infused with Lavender, Honey, Lemon, served over ice|
2012 Kooyong Pinot Gris - Beurrot Mornington Peninsula
There was quite a big group of us, and we were split up over a few tables and were free to order from the menu. Between the five of us at my table, we managed to cover a good selection of the menu, starting with oysters! We got them natural (yay), and they were super fresh, briney and creamy. Love!
|Smoky Bay SA; Wallis Lake from NSW; Moulting Bay from Tasmania|
I ordered the Alaskan King Crab for my entree - and it was so, so pretty! Look at that perfect rectangle! I loved the combination of fresh crab meat against the creamy mascarpone and slightly spicy red capsicum coulis.
|Alaskan King Crab - red capsicum coulis, crab mascarpone, balsamic gel, smoked paprika - $26|
Thanh graciously shared some of his scallops and calamari with me - they were cooked perfectly, slightly charred on the outside and quiveringly soft on the inside, and without even a hint of rubberiness.
|Pan Seared Scallops and Calamari - celeriac and apple remoulade, squid ink mascarpone, salmon roe - $26|
I'm glad I-Hua ordered the seafood cocktail, so I could get a photo of it. It's one of my favourite dishes at The Atlantic, and I've ordered it on pretty much all of my visits (except this one as I felt like trying something new!) As I've had it so many times before, I declined I-Hua's generous offer to try some, but I can tell you I love the generous amount and variety of seafood in it - scallop, crayfish, prawn and crab - as well as the refreshing cubes of fresh fruit and the lightly creamy sauce.
|Atlantic Seafood Cocktail - crab meat, scallop, Moreton bay bug, prawn, iceberg, rockmelon, apple, basil, soft boiled quail egg - $30|
I didn't taste the Moreton Bay bug spaghettini, but wanted to share the photo with you because it looked great, and it smelled fantastic when they brought it to the table!
|Moreton Bay Bug Spaghettini - olive oil, garlic, chilli, parsley - $29|
For our mains I ordered the lightly smoked confit Ora King salmon, which I totally loved! The salmon was incredibly tender and melting, and I enjoyed the rather wintry addition of grilled smoked bacon and braised baby savoy cabbage. It was quite intense, with all the smoky salty flavours, and the fattiness of the salmon and bacon, but I'm really into that.
|Lightly Smoked Confit Ora King Salmon (NZ) - braised baby savoy cabbage, grilled smoked bacon, baby carrot and jus gras - $40|
The Boy (from The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua and The Boy) ordered the pan-fried hapuka, which came with an aromatic pile of prawn-scented risoni and shellfish foam. He said it was very good, and I loved the sunny yellow colours.
|Pan-Fried Hapuka (Portland, VIC) - risoni scented with prawns and aromatic vegetables, fennel salad, shellfish foam - $44|
Two in our group ordered simple grilled fish - one baby snapper on the bone, another the wood-fired grilled barramundi off the bone. Both were done very well, but I personally prefer the cheffier dishes (like the confit salmon or hapuka above) - they're at a similar price point, but with the cheffier dishes you get to try something a bit more interesting and creative, with lots of different elements. Obviously the simple grilled fish dishes are great if you really want to appreciate the fish itself!
|Baby Snapper (Port Phillip Bay, VIC) - delicate, soft textured, white fleshed fish with chilli and anchovy sauce - $41|
|Wood Fire Grilled Barramundi (WA) - mixed leaf salad, lemon - $39|
One person on our table got a steak - I told you they do non-seafood dishes well too!
|250g Sher Wagyu Sirloin Marble Score 8+ - sea salt, olive oil, lemon - $58 with Bordelaise sauce - $3|
We also got a couple of sides to share - the thrice-cooked russet potatoes were quite nice, although I felt they could have been more crisp (especially with the "thrice-cooked" name).
|Thrice Cooked Russet Potatoes - rosemary, garlic, sea salt - $11|
The potatoes were quite nice, but the cauliflower was amazing! I love cauliflower in general, but here it was roasted in brown butter for extra deliciousness, and had capers, chopped hardboiled eggs, onion and garlic. I totally want the recipe!
|Brown Butter Roast Cauliflower - chopped egg, capers, onion, garlic - $12|
And then it was time for dessert. First up was a chocolate delice, which had a hint of spice from the chilli chocolate soup, and the tangy flavour of passionfruit. It was both rich and refreshing.
|Valrhona Chocolate Delice - passionfruit centre, coconut foam, chilli chocolate soup - $23|
The next two desserts are ones I'd already tried on Adri's birthday, so I knew I'd like them. The champagne and strawberry parfait was very summery, and I liked the savoury, herbaceous, addition of the basil and orange ice-cream.
|Champagne and Strawberry Parfait - basil and orange ice-cream, strawberry salad - $22|
The pistachio cassonade was a rich pistachio cream, topped with pistachio praline and a scoop of wonderfully dark and bitter chocolate sorbet, and with crisp espresso crackers on the side. I'm usually wary of pistachio desserts - I hate that artificial pistachio essence taste - but this one was beautiful and had a very mild, natural pistachio flavour.
|Pistachio Cassonade - Valrhona bitter chocolate sorbet, pistachio praline, coffee chocolate crackers - $20|
Wow, writing up this post has made me really want to visit The Atlantic again. Ok, whose birthday is next???
Sarah visited The Atlantic twice as an anonymous paying customer, and once on a bloggers' dinner as a non-paying guest.