As I had walked past The Atlantic multiple times as I would frequently use the Crown Casino as a thoroughfare to avoid inclimate weather, I would frequently stop outside of the restaurant and view the fish that they have on offer in the window. They advertise an oyster and champagne bar that is open late and of course "The Den" where one can drink if you feel obliged. Of all of the restaurants in The Crown that can suck you in just by looking pleasant and attractive, this one is it.
When I presented myself to the hostess, I stated that we did not have a reservation sadly and I hoped that she would accommodate us and assign us to the best table in the house. We were promptly seated in what I thought was one of the best places to sit outside. Service was quick to bring us some water (this is the first time I have ordered tap water on purpose at a restaurant as after buying a large supply of San Pelligrino at Costco the previous day, I decided that it is time to be a bit smarter with my spending) and also provide us with a hefty wine list.
I started off with an oyster from each of the regions that they had on the menu. It didn't matter if the oyster was from Cloudy or Cowell Bay, it was plump and delectable. My favourite was what was on offer from Franklin Harbour though. The oysters that I had at The Atlantic are some of best that I have had in Melbourne since relocating here with the ones at Cumulus being a runner up. The Atlantic being primarily a seafood restaurant thus succeeded in providing a great seafood product.
The sense of bliss did not end with the oysters. I moved on to the "Trio of Crudo" and then followed it up with the Moreton Bay Bug Spaghettini. Both the cold and hot starters were delicious and being a seafood enthusiast, I wanted to keep hammering the options on both of these menus but I was also equally intrigued by the mains. One way that I judge service is by the way they handle my erratic dining. After I sit down and review the menu, I tend to order something like oysters and then annouce that I will order additional items later after some wine is consumed. This same routine is followed after every course. The one little thing that I detest is when service continually follows up and asks if you are ready to order something else especially when you haven't received your outstanding dish, have a full mouth or are engaged in pleasant conversation. This faux-pas never happened at The Atlantic. They honoured my instructions and never followed up or quizzed me about additional food that we wanted to order until the lovely server came over after our eyes met in passing. It was a very professional experience.
I ordered the Baby Barramundi for my main and began to pick the flesh off the bone. As this is quite a time consuming task, another bottle of wine was ordered and an afternoon was made eating, picking, drinking, laughing and telling tale tales. The service remained professional and attended to our minor needs like filling up water glasses and pouring wine. I wondered what the champagne and oyster bar would be like late at night and pondered if "The Den" would be worth a visit. Two additional things to do which are on a list that seemingly only gets longer in this great city.
Thinking about what polarises people about this restaurant is both the cost and seemingly what is on offer that is not considered seafood. When I paid the bill, I did not think that the experience was expensive or not good value for money. It did cost a fair amount but the quality of the seafood, service and even location if it matters to you, makes it worth it. I was easily able to enjoy myself for four hours at this restaurant and when time can manage to get away from me, I know it is a successful time out. I would return to The Atlantic for either lunch or dinner with no prodding and I also look forward to checking out the Oyster Bar and The Den on one of my next wanders through the Crown complex.
Update on 05/08/12 - A further post has been made about the Atlantic Oyster Bar and The Den, which can be found here.
Link to review
Crown Towers, Southbank VIC 3006
My Rating: 15.5/20
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Freshest seafood around
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) southbank (dot) com
At the time of this post, only 63% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked this polarising restaurant. I hope the ones that did not will give it another chance.