I had a great dinner at the Atlantic tonight. The place is definitely a bit off the beaten track (Dundas way west of Dufferin) and has what I presume is an intentionally shabby although comfortable decor (to me it feels a bit like Rosebud when it first opened). The menu is all small plates (order of service selelcted by the kitchen) and includes some excellent classic and modern cocktails. The wine list is short and smart with a very affordable and well priced selection. One thing I should point out is that the menu on the website is completely different from what we were offered.
Our party of three had the following, all in a tapas (shared) style:
Strawberry cucumber gazpacho - they nicely split this into three small servings even tough we didn't ask. Very interesting and well seasoned soup with a good dose of pepper, which I love with strawberries
Duck tartare with duck egg and black fish roe - I've never had duck tartare but this was great - served with thin grilled toasts. The duck egg was hard boiled (I personally would have done raw or at least soft) but the roe was an interesting salty touch. Highly seasoned but not too salty
Asparagus with romesco sauce - loved this - grilled asparagus with a fantastic romesco - lots of red pepper, almond and garlic (but creamy)
Endive and octopus salad - the only dish we didn't love - the octopus was overly chewy and we felt the whole thing just didn't work (but it was far from bad)
Spot prawns with cocktail sauce - these were poached and served whole with heads on and a house made sauce that seemed as if it was made with avocado. Simple, sweet and delicious
Charred and raw salmon belly with shaved asparagus - one of our favourite dishes - simple amazing salmon dish - great quality cut - seared on the outside and raw on the inside, again beautifully seasoned.
Mackerel on kimchee - interesting battle between the two principle ingredients. Tasty though
Strozzapretti pasta with cheese and chilli - a nice counterpoint to the other dishes (one of 2 pastas on the menu) - lovely cheese (can't recall the name)
Cheese plate - house made bread crackers with 3 selections - Morbiere, a cendriers goat cheese and a dryish blue whose name escapes me. Served with confit figs
The menu had a few other interesting items and often a touch of whimsy - one of the dishes was a "Jesus Bowl" - proceeds donated to charity - that was comprised of bread, small fishes and a small glass of wine. There were a few other dishes that we didn't try (I think we sampled maybe 50% of the menu) but everything looked interesting. It was definitely fish heavy (there is at the very least a halibut dish, a sardine dish and an oyster dish we didn't try).
Service was warm and friendly. We did wait a while after we ordered for the food to start coming but once it started it didn't stop - no awkward pauses. You can make reservations (a huge plus in my view). It wasn't very busy even though it was a Saturday night, but I assume this is gong to change - fast. All in price pp including a cocktail, one bottle of wine with dinner shared among 3, food, taxes and tip was 62 dollars and we left full. Highly recommended.
Second attempt, first was thwarted by them being closed even though I called and v/m indicated they would be open on a Sunday. Then notice on door listed they would be closed on the first Sunday of every month........
This was on Sat, 1/1, so of course I called to make sure I wouldn't be burned again. Surprised to find they're open, so I went and ordered....
Warm salsify and wild mushroom salad
Forest flavors and onsen egg (v-) $9
- egg cooked well and looked the bizness. Yolk oozed out to integrate w/ the sweet dressing. Needs salt to cut the sweet + richness of dressing & egg. Chantrelles charred silghtly but could've used more.
Pound of PEI rope-farmed mussels
Steamed with tarragon, vinho verde and lemon oil $9
- Tasted fine, balanced. It's a decent mussel dish, but nothing you wouldn't find at most reputable restaurants. No bread served with mussels, which is a cardinal sin in my book. The nectar of the gods instead gets tossed away.
Honey and quatre epice glazed quail cooked over hay
Brussel sprouts, black carrot jus $12
- Under-seasoned, heavy on the hay smoke flavour, which I at least found interesting. Quail cooked well.
Smoked scallops and mackerel
With Cherry stone clam chowder $14
- so can you guess what I'm going to say? Under-seasoned again. Scallops seared well......on one side only, which I found perplexing.
Service was friendly.
4 dishes for 2 equates to an intermediate snack. I was still hungry and expected to be so after ordering. Just wanted to see how good the dishes were first before delving further. I guess I found my answer. I don't think I'll be returning.
we went a while ago based on chow-review. very underwhelmed.
walked in and was excited by the hole in the wall appearance...so like a great restaurant that hasn't been noticed yet. service was friendly, but if you're going to put "out-there" ingredients on the menu, inform your stafff about them. food came sporadically which we didn't really mind as we were chatting and picking but there were too many slips. "toasted" things were closer to burnt, seasonings were all over the map, garlic was used aggressively in a lot of dishes (often in a bitter, charred way)
it was a fun night, but that had more to do with us taking advantage of their cheap prosecco and very affordable corkage.
i would not return
Ate dinner at The Atlantic last night. One of the best meals I've had in 2010. Maybe the best. Unreal.
If you don't like fish, it's not for you, 90% of the menu is seafood - you won't find a burger or steak frites here, that's for sure. And definitely the space is pretty shabby in a cool way, those of you with allergies to hipster stay away. But man oh man was the food ever good. Nathan Isberg is back there cooking by himself and just hitting home runs left and right. I didn't ask for the off-menu crickets (the wife is not down with eating bugs) and the grilled fish head was also not happening, but we ate just about everything else. Here's what we had:
We started with St. Simon oysters ($13 for 6) and they were perfect. I liked the touch of crusting half the lemon wedge with fleur de sel, I dropped a grain or two of salt in each oysters and didn't even need the accompanying mignonette.
Next was a green bean, octopus, and almond salad ($8). Crisp french green beans, tender octopus, and perhaps not enough almond all dusted with pimenton. Delcious.
We also had an order of grilled asparagus with walnut romesco sauce ($5), which was simple and addictive. I don't know why we don't see more romesco sauce around town. I would put it on everything.
Then we each had the snap pea soup with BC clams ($5). Really the essence of early summer distilled into a soup, it tasted intensely sweet-green, with the clams providing a nice briny chewy counterpoint. I could have had another bowl.
My wife's favourite dish of the night was next, the mackerel ceviche ($5). The oily delicate mackerel had had its skin blowtorched before going into its brief citrus bath, a great little trick. It was served on a bed of kimchee which was an awesome Momofuku-style touch that worked perfectly.
A pair of grilled sardines ($6) followed, just simple and perfectly prepared, with the skin crispy but the flesh almost rare, and having clearly benefited from a nice long cure in salt.
We had ordered salt cod croquettes with pimenton allioli ($5) but those had been forgotten, really the only service hiccup of the night from the one waitress who was efficiently working the whole small room. She was great, and we had clearly over-ordered as usual so I didn't bother reminding her about the croquettes as the cuitlacoche (corn fungus) and chanterelle coca ($7) arrived. It was very tasty, many of you will remember this from Nathan Isberg's time at Coca.
Then we had a wild mushroom, dried blueberry and duck bacon empanada ($5), which was one of my favourites. My wife thought the filling could have been more saucy, but agreed with me that that might have spoiled the delicate pastry, which was beautiful. I could also eat duck bacon all day long, so that helped.
Next up (I know, I know) was the Nizzarda pasta with tapenade, cherry tomatoes and white tuna $10). This wasn't exactly mindblowing but was very well-executed, and I appreciated the light touch with the tapenade as it let the tuna shine through.
Finally we had the rare seared trout with sauteed greens and dashi, again like the sardines a perfect balance between crispy skin and rare sweet flesh, which was resting in a pool of dashi that brought out the fish's flavour without imposing itself.
Oh, and did I say "finally"? Because we shared a dessert, peaches and polenta cake. I'm not the biggest polenta fan but this was light, barely sweet, but with a lovely faintly honeyed taste. Loved it.
So that's what, 11 dishes? Our waitress said most couples order like 6 dishes so I guess we must have had our snouts in the trough again. I would say most people on this board could probably polish off 8 dishes no problem. She comped us a couple of glasses of light porto at the end, and during the meal we shared a 500 ml carafe of the Daniel Lenko unoaked chardonnay ($28). Total bill before tip was $120 which is just unreal value. One could easily go in there and spend $70-$80 for a couple and have one of the best meals in town.
The Atlantic really reminded me of some of my dining adventures in Brooklyn, a small room put together on a shoestring with a young solo chef cooking from the heart. I don't know why this board isn't all over this place, certainly the location on way west Dundas, and ambience (think of a dive bar down by the wharf, inexplicably populated by people in skinny jeans), will make it impossible for some. But if you love seafood, and you appreciate passionate cuisine at a bargain price, heading to The Atlantic should be a priority. I can't wait to go back.
I tried going, but they're closed in the first Mon/Tues/Wed of each month. It's annoying that they didn't post that on their website.
Anyway, I do want to go, but it's annoying to make the effort to go out there and not be able to go - especially when you've bothered to check on hours...!
I did call, right before I left, and the answering machine also stated that they are open daily from 7pm. It wasn't strange to me that no one answered the phone during dinner service, so we went.
It's just me ranting. I really dislike it when restaurants do not post correct (regular) hours. I would rather they not say anything at all if that's the case. At least then it's on me to call and ask when they are open!
Yeah that's too bad they didn't answer the phone, although seeing the one chef and one waitress in constant motion for two hours, I can understand why.
I wish restaurants would have better websites too. No Flash. No menus as PDFs. No freaking music. Just the menus, the hours, clear directions, etc. And if they are constantly making changes, use Twitter. The Atlantic definitely does not have a regular menu, it changes daily, but hell, fax it to me at 5:30 and I'll Tweet it for you in exchange for a lifetime supply of mackerel ceviche!
I had a huge rant I posted about restaurant websites and especially about flash sites. I don't think they realize that on the iPhone, all you get is a blue [?] icon. And pretty much everyone has one.
I do like twitter for all the minor updates these days, but it's also minimal work to incorporate that into their sites as well.
Anyway, I'll visit Atlantic at some point, but I guess a little later than sooner right now!
http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.
I had an amazing meal at the Atlantic on Saturday night. I had heard good things about the restaurant upon its opening, but was somewhat turned off by reviews mentioning fish-heads and crickets. It took me a while to end up dining there, but I am now sure glad that I did.
1. Nicely charred dense bread with a super smooth white bean dip - $3
2. Six oysters with kimchee - $13 - I love oysters and I love kimchee, so I was sold from the get-go on this one.
3. Winter salad, with cabbage, beets, apples, pecans, etc - $8 - I see versions of this salad often, but the Atlantic's version was by far the best. Well-balanced flavours, good contrast of shapes and textures.
4. Knudel with kuri squash and spruce - $10ish - They ran out of gnuddi, so they gave us these bread dumplings instead. Very nice texture, kind of like small spheres of pizza dough.
5. Smoked scallops with peperonata sauce - $14 - The scallop itself was not very smoky, so perhaps it was the smoked paprika in the sauce that made the dish "smokey"? The scallops were very well cooked.
6. Sous-vide Halibut with.. I can't remember at this point. There was definitely some shoe string potatoes and maybe some gremolata. $15. Perfectly cooked. Decent portion size. Great flavours.
7. Dulce de Leche and Flor de Sel Creme Brulé - $7 - Loved the addition of salt to the crispy caramel. So good!
I had two glasses of wine, plus a small carafe of coffee for $120 with tip. I can't wait to go back!