Stepping onto the terrace of Souk Al Bahar’s The Atlantic, diners are met with one of the best views in Dubai. A premium spot for watching the Dubai Fountains and smack bang in front of the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa.
Occupying the space previously occupied by popular Thai eatery, Mango Tree, The Atlantic opens to huge expectations. On first appearance the interiors play it very safe with a formal and almost clinical approach to fine dining. Things feel polished and sleek and aside from an oyster bar and some nautical flourishes in the form of portholes, The Atlantic feels slightly lacking in atmosphere. This may be due to the fact that the restaurant’s completely empty on our Saturday lunchtime visit, not due to a lack of customers but because they’re all outside on the spectacular waterfront terrace.
Founded by celebrity chef Donovan Cooke, this ocean to plate concept has cast its net from Melbourne (Australia) to the shores of the Arabian Gulf, with Chef Cooke overseeing both locations. The Atlantic boasts a firm focus on seafood and, inspired by the spirit of the world’s greatest fish markets, diners are promised the freshest of ingredients and a first class dining experience.
Greeted by restaurant manager James Foster, we’re given a brief run down of the concept alongside a few recommendations. The concise menu covers all bases when it comes to seafood and the only thing not included in the printed documentation are the Oysters, which change regularly to ensure that customers are served the very best produce.
Sipping on a glass of Prosecco from Australia’s King Valley, we’re informed that The Atlantic is the only place outside of Australia where this sparkling wine can be found. Speaking of beverages, bar manager Ryan Fourie has created some wonderful concoctions that stray somewhat from the norm. Take for example the Jolly Rodger, a fine blend of cherry tomatoes, basil, strawberry and Himalayan rock salt that provides a near-perfect balance of sweet and sour. We’re intrigued by The Deep Blue for its key ingredient of pearl dust but unfortunately, it was unavailable on the day we dined. The classic bloody Mary is redesigned as The Nautilus and is given a unique black colouration via the inclusion of squid ink. These drinks may sound extreme, but their characteristics are far more subtle and we appreciated being told the process behind their creation and the flavours that we could expect.
The Atlantic offers an array of seafood platters, oysters and caviar as an introduction to the concept and the menu as a whole. We opt for the Yellowtail King Fish Ceviche and are exceptionally pleased with our choice, topped with a pickled ginger and shaved fennel salad it’s the inclusion of citrus fruit chunks that add the required zest to a dish of this calibre and one that is extremely popular at the Australian location.
The signature Baked Scottish Sea Scallop was our dish of the day. Served encased in its shell, the scallop has been secured via a pastry seal before being baked. The seal is chiseled away at the table and upon opening, the scallop emits a powerful aroma of cinnamon and lemon, representing the most aromatic dish in recent memory. It’s difficult to describe the sheer delight of a dish like this and the delicate flesh of the scallop remains in tact and retains much of the cooking flavours.
Main courses range from a whole baby sea bass to a Wagyu Sirloin steak with a marble rating of 9+. There’s clearly no messing around when it comes to quality produce and this is reflective of the price point of The Atlantic’s dishes, which are comparable with other fine dining restaurants, though the portions here veer more towards the small end of the spectrum.
With seafood being The Atlantics speciality, we skip the salads, steaks and pasta dishes and opt for the Roast Cod ‘Basque’ Style served with Piperade, Mussels, saffron, olive oil and potato Mousseline is a dish of two halves. The cod arrives beautifully cooked with a crisp exterior and flaky flesh beneath that’s complemented rather than overpowered by the accompanying elements. The Mousseline potato however is far from mousse-like in texture, in fact it’s rather ‘gloopy’ in consistency and a disappointment when compared to the quality that preceded it.
The signature Olive Oil Confit Loch Duart Salmon is a dish that Chef Cooke has been perfecting for almost 20 years and it certainly shows. This method of cooking means that the fish is slow cooked in oil at a low temperature (in this case fifty degrees) to bring out the flavours of the salmon and provide it with a specific tenderness. It’s a fantastic dish but one that doesn’t hold its temperature for too long – so eat quickly! The salmon is served with heirloom vegetables and a herb jus, while additional sides of Thrice Cooked Potatoes with rosemary and sea salt and a chilli and garlic Sauteed Kale are highly recommended.
Desserts are good but failed to wow us as much as the savory offerings. Although we enjoyed both of our desserts choices, we found that they played it a little to safe. A Mango Cassonade could be too much of a good thing with passion fruit gel, sour mango and coconut sorbet filling up a glass jar. The flavours are good but the textures became difficult to differentiate and after a few mouthfuls it was all too similar. The Valrhona Chocolate & Hazelnut Tart utilizes a hazelnut custard and chocolate ganache with a delightful earl grey sorbet. Yet, it is the powder of hazelnut oil and starch extract that surprised us the most, dissolving in the mouth to leave a flavour but no texture!
The Atlantic represents a significant shift in the Dubai dining landscape. A refreshing focus on quality and simplicity which makes for a welcome change from the excessive nature of the food and beverage industry in the UAE.
Even the small touches leave a lasting impression, the measurements on the glassware, the bronze cutlery or the smart aprons worn by the Atlantic team. For us, the staff really make a restaurant like this and everyone we encountered was charismatic, respectful, knowledgeable of the menu (a surprising rarity in Dubai) and showed the utmost attention to detail. In fact we can’t recall the last time we experienced such high levels of service and all this from a restaurant that has only recently opened, putting many of the surrounding five star properties to shame.
The Atlantic is a great date spot that sports a lively soundtrack of Motown classics and although the interiors may require an injection of personality, the views of the fountains are likely to be as much of a draw as the impressive food. The Atlantic represents simplicity at its best and is a celebration of seafood in its purest form.
The Atlantic can also be found on the Entertainer, meaning you can buy one get one free on either main courses or their Friday Brunch. Still not got your Entertainer 2017 product? Click here to purchase and you’ll get 10% off with our exclusive promo code, just enter ‘ABOUTUAE’ at checkout.
We were invited to dine at The Atlantic. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.