Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Atlantic

After a whirlwind work trip overseas, and arriving into work after a flight landing at 930 am, the last thing I felt like doing was to go out for dinner. However, my mother was in town (a rare occurrence as she lives interstate) so there was really no choice. 

As I'd planned to take her to The Atlantic last time she was here and didn't get around to it due to cancelled flights and short time-frames, it was a fairly easy decision to make a booking at The Atlantic for the Friday night. 

The Atlantic
I dragged M along too as I'd missed him while overseas. And he likes seafood...a lot. Lucky for him, the philosophy at The Atlantic is 'Ocean to Plate' so the menu is predominantly seafood. Starting with half a dozen Coffin Bay oysters seemed like the perfect start. 

Coffin Bay Oysters
Fresh and with a silky texture, these were delicious. Quality makes all the difference when you're eating things raw and while these weren't the most stunning ones I've had, they were pretty darn good. 

We had a hard time deciding which entrees we wanted but finally settled on some non-fish dishes as we intended to order fish for mains. 

Wood Fire Grilled Calamari with Wilted Cucumber, Harissa, Dukkah, Coriander
Tempura Soft Shell Crab with Jalapeno, Ponzu 

I did say non-fish, not non-seafood after all. The Middle-Eastern inspired calamari was lightly cooked with the cucumber providing a nice fresh contrast. It could have perhaps done with a touch more flavour, but it was good never the less.

The crab was fried goodness with sweet crab meat, a crispy salty exterior and jalapenos providing a soft spicy hit. 

So while the entrees were good, one of the mains we ordered was arguably the star of the night. The Atlantic have two types of fish dishes on offer: on the bone and off the bone. On the bone dishes consist of whole fish either wood fired, roasted, or steamed. Off the bone dishes are more complex and are closer to your 'typical' restaurant dishes with fillets of fish. 

Wood-fired Tiger Flathead 

I can't feasibly wood-fire anything at home, so wood-fired Tiger Flathead from Lakes Entrance was my pick. Barramundi, Snapper, John Dory, Flounder and King George Whiting at all available if they take your fancy instead. 

The very fresh flathead had firm flesh that was lightly seasoned. You can't ask for much more than that as it's perfect just the way it is. While one main dish was simple, the other main dish was complex and mouth-watering-ly astonishing.
Olive Oil ConfitOra King Salmon with Soya Bean Ragout, Radish, Pickled Ginger and Carrot Salad, Blood  Orange Reduction, Coriander Oil

The olive oil salmon dish (as seen on Masterchef no less) was an absolute stunner. Salmon that melting on the tongue and carried the faintest hint of olive oil on top of a delicate salad. I have to start poaching some salmon in olive oil myself! Never-mind the cost of good quality fish and olive oil. 

Of course, one can't live off seafood alone, so we added a few other accompaniments. The sides we ordered were of good quality but couldn't compare to the mains.

Cos Lettuce Salad of Avocado, Shaved Egg, Pine Nuts, Yoghurt and Mint Dressing
Thrice Cooked Russet Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic, Sea Salt
I do wonder if seafood + dessert constitutes an entire meal though. I'd certainly have been happy with that. The theme of great quality food was maintained by the dessert options we had. 

Another Masterchef dish made an appearance

Marco Pierre White’s Valrhona Chocolate Tart with Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream 

How could you see that on a menu and not order it. Rich with dark chocolate, the small slice of this dessert was more than enough to satisfy the three of us. The taste was strong, the the tart itself was far from cloying and was instead sinfully luxurious yet light. The ice cream cut through the chocolate well to refresh the palate. 

While our second dessert was good, but not quite good enough. 

Peach Melba Cheesecake Trifle of Raspberries, Cream Cheese Ice Cream, Almond Cookies, Cheesecake Foam

Ok, it was more than just good, with an interesting contrast in textures and flavours. It just wasn't even close to matching the quality of the tart. High expectations were set after all.

I can't believe it took me this long to get to The Atlantic. The food is simply spectacular, especially if you order the salmon. The prices are reasonable for Southbank, but quality more than justifies the cost. Service is fast and efficient, but the atmosphere can feel overly busy at times. We saw Donovan Cook looking seriously from docket to dish to docket to dish though, so that helped make for a perfect night.

The Atlantic
Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank
Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm

The Atlantic on Urbanspoon