Restaurant review: The Atlantic, Souk Al Bahar is an ideal spot for fine dining in Downtown Dubai
Two of Dubai’s beloved restaurants, The Rivington Grill and The Mango Tree, closed last summer. Given their prime locations in Souk Al Bahar, whatever replaced them was always going to be a significant addition to the dining scene.
Speculation about what Rivington Grill’s replacement will be continues – word is it will be a Rivi clone.
The Mango Tree, however, was always little more than a slightly above-average restaurant in a prime location, so its replacement by a branch of Melbourne’s celebrated seafood restaurant The Atlantic is a clear upgrade.
It comes from chef Donovan Cooke, who has overseen a menu here that differs somewhat from the original outlet. It still retains their “ocean to plate philosophy”, but in Dubai, most of the main ingredients are, as we know, flown in from all over the world.
The menu does, however, include a promise from the owners that they only source their seafood from “specialist suppliers, who pride themselves on providing a superior product of wild and sustainable seafood”. So, thankfully, there is no hammour on offer.
It is also a relief to discover there is no sharing concept here. Food is brought out in the right order and served to the person who ordered it – if they want to share some with others at the table, that is left up to them.
The menu covers Dubai standards but also offers new things done differently.
Oysters, lobster and caviar are all present and, yes, they also serve a 300-gram Wagyu sirloin with a marble score of 9+, if you want to dig deep into your wallet for the Dh559 asking price. But, there is a fresher feel about The Atlantic.
It is the type of modern place that offers sautéed kale as a side, and wood-fired zucchini. It is the kind of restaurant Dubai is starting to see more frequently as global trends finally start to reach these shores.
The light and airy decor helps, and although the views of the Dubai Fountain from the balcony instantly make it a fine place to take visitors, those who can’t bear the thought of hearing another aquatically-accompanied rendition of Time to Say Goodbye, have a beautifully designed interior to escape to.
A starter of Yellowtail King Fish ceviche with citrus fruit, pickled ginger and shaved fennel salad was something that could hold its own in any pan-Asian restaurant in town.
The more traditional crab bisque, with crème fraîche and crab ravioli, was a rich update of an old standard.
The olive oil confit Loch Duart salmon with heirloom vegetable, one of the signature dishes, is a simple plate that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. It was impeccable, full of flavour and well balanced – though at Dh159, this does not come cheap.
The sea bass with garlic and chilli olive oil is a big affair – with the 700g fish presented with the head still on. It looks like something you’d serve to a wealthy grizzly bear, but was again faultless in flavour and texture. It went well with side orders of thrice-cooked potato with rosemary, garlic and sea salt, creating a homely flavour reminiscent of the best roast dinners. Again, it is a great example of simple things done really well.
Desserts consisted of the simplicity of a homemade strawberry ice cream (Dh29) on one hand, and a Valrhona chocolate and hazelnut tart with hazelnut custard, chocolate ganache and Earl Grey sorbet (Dh39) on the other.
The ice cream was a light, refreshing end, while the tart was a fine combination of rich ganache and lightly nutty custard, with a sharp sorbet to balance it. It was, again, a lovely, modern dish that would work in any top restaurant.
As Dubai welcomes new restaurants on a near weekly basis, people tend to pick and choose where they spend their money more cautiously, but The Atlantic is a notable addition worth splashing out for.
It might not have as much to offer as the original parent venue, and is unlikely to achieve such beloved status, but it is an upgrade to what was in the space before. For long lunches in light and classy surroundings, it is a welcome addition to the Downtown Dubai dining scene.
• Our meal for two at The Atlantic, Souk Al Bahar, cost Dh672 without drinks. To book, call 04 442 5662. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito.
Updated: April 19, 2017 04:00 AM