With gluttonous husband away on a male-bonding golf trip, it was an opportunity for Greedy Girl to have a girls’ night out. Dressing up, she and pescetarian friend Ms Divine hit the town.

After a delightful bottle of champagne at the Lui Bar on level 55 of Melbourne’s Rialto tower, tottering on heels they toddled off to the Crown precinct on the banks of the Yarra River and The Atlantic.

Greedy Girl had high expectations. The head chef here is Donovan Cooke, a British-born chef with a serious fine-dining pedigree both in England and since he arrived in Melbourne in the mid-90s. Several of Melbourne’s outstanding restaurants, such as Est Est Est and the late but very lamented Ondine came to life under his leadership.

When The Atlantic opened, a number of previous cafes at Crown needed to make way. It’s a big restaurant, with lots of smallish spaces created by partitioning. Having said that, on a Saturday night, it’s bustling and noisy with more than a few large tables.

Shown to a table for two by the floor-to-ceiling windows, we looked out over the alfresco tables, the river, and the decidedly eerie (in Greedy Girl’s opinion) gas-fired columns that erupt in great fiery ‘wooshing’ flames at the top of the hour. The interior is dark and moody; sort of fisherman-chic with lots of ropes looped around the light fittings.

Having already nibbled a little with our champagne, we opted to have mains only with a side of chips (can one really enjoy a feed of fish without chips?), ordered a couple of glasses of a delightful Dalrymple pinot noir from Tasmania and chatted.

First up was an offer of rye or white rolls, served with olive oil. We’d barely broken the crust when the food arrived.

Greedy Girl plumped for the cepe-crusted hapuka, a firm white-fleshed fish, served with ‘mixed autumn mushrooms’, fine herbs and a noilly prat foam (pictured at the top of this post). Cepe mushrooms, or porcini if you’re Italian, are dried and imported to Australia. Along with morels, they’re Greedy Girl’s favourites and this dish didn’t disappoint. The cepe crust was delightful, the fish cooked perfectly and the little medley of fresh mushrooms underneath, moistened by the vermouth sauce was plate-lickingly good.

Ms Divine contemplated her dish. This was a false step. Before her was the olive oil confit Ora king salmon from New Zealand. This is a particular species farmed sustainably and much prized by fish lovers. It was served with heirloom carrots, asparagus and a basil, saffron and mussel broth. It was an attractive description and when the dish arrived it looked quite nice, if a bit overwhelmingly orange. Two bites in, though, the cutlery was put down and the dish pronounced oily. Ms Divine said it was crying out for some acidity and there was no appreciable mussel flavour in the broth. Even a sprinkling of the rock salt provided at the table couldn’t bring out any other flavours.

The Atlantic

Confit Ora king salmon

The hovering waiter, to his eternal credit, picked up on the problem straight away and offered to immediately replace the dish with something else. After a little gentle persuasion, she agreed and a fillet of wood-fired grilled snapper soon appeared, presented simply with some dressed greens and a lemon half.

The Atlantic

Wood-fired grilled snapper

Ms Divine pronounced this dish more than acceptable, cooked perfectly and a nice taste of simplicity that banished the oily memories from the salmon. A slight disappointment was that the skin was not crisp. It arrived, however, in a flash and avoided the indignity of two girls eating their dinners at different times.

However, we weren’t done with the glitches. A side of russet burbank chips was ordered but didn’t arrive. When the first dishes were placed on the table, we reminded the server of the order. When they still hadn’t arrived by the time Ms Divine’s replacement dish landed, we were a little bemused. They did eventually turn up, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Greedy Girl and the comment that it was unfortunate she’d already finished her dish. Our gracious waiter soon arrived, apologetic, and offered to take the cost of the chips off the bill.

This wasn’t perfect dining by any means. While we thoroughly enjoyed what we ended up with, it took a bit of getting there. On a busy Saturday night, the speed of the food preparation (apart from the tardy chips) was very impressive and there was certainly enough wait staff around to respond to every request. They’re obviously very well trained too. The way they dealt with adversity was excellent.

The Atlantic offers very good quality seafood – and that’s reflected in the prices, which ensure this isn’t a particularly inexpensive experience. The restaurant seems to cater well for large groups rather than a quiet table for two. Certainly in terms of location/view it’s a great spot.

The Atlantic

Crown Promenade, Southbank
The Atlantic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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