Review: Escale at Ossiano, Atlantis, The Palm
Same incredible setting, new innovative menu…
It would be easy for Ossiano to rely solely on its jaw-dropping backdrop – an aquarium of 65,000 colourful marine life – to draw guests. But the man behind the menu at this mesmerising underwater restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm, isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Chef Gregoire Berger is now three chapters into his second stint as Chef de Cuisine at Ossiano, and his newest menu is a presentation of 11 waves, titled Escale.
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If you’re new to chef Gregoire Berger’s work, the culinary leader at Ossiano has been presenting a multi-course tasting menu since returning to his position post-pandemic. Each season, he switches up the menu, inspired by a period of his past. This time around, Berger takes diners across the world on a culinary voyage to some of his most memorable trips, from childhood visits to Japan with his father, to his life in Morocco where Berger opened his first restaurant aged just 23.
The restaurant setting remains as dazzling as ever. Ossiano has always felt like an underwater kingdom, with its sparkling chandeliers, royal blue carpet and white marble tables that look like shimmering pearls against the backdrop of The Lagoon, Atlantis The Palm’s aquarium. Tables are carefully arranged to ensure every table gets a front row seat to the 65,000 marine life swimming by.
The culinary experience has been expanded to also involve the bar, which is where our experience begins with a pre-dinner drink, a fragrant, alcohol-free mix of distilled herbs, elderflower, tonic and ginger foam before moving into the dining room. It comes with a stop along the way in a mysteriously curtained-off private dining table, which we soon learn is so that we can enjoy the full effect of our next canapé, an obulato (potato starch) cushion filled with sea fennel, dill oil, plankton powder and sea lettuce that’s served with table-side theatrics of bioluminescent plankton swirling in a bowl. Designed to look like a plastic bag in the ocean, it’s a small bite with big impact both in terms of flavour and in recognition of the sustainable focus at Ossiano. Where possible, ingredients are sourced locally, and where it’s not, they’re sourced responsibly, and many of the top ingredients are presented to guests at the start of the tasting menu, another indication of the attention-to-detail that’s set to follow.
Once seated, we tear ourselves away from gazing at the fish, sharks and rays that swim by to consult the menu, a neat bookmark presented with a magnifying glass so you can follow along as each course is served. There’s been an evolution from the first menu, which centred almost solely around Berger’s childhood in Brittany, with more global influence inspired by his travels.
Some of the waves we enjoy most include ‘Made of land and memories,’ an oyster with a pearl of icy sea fennel that we slurp down with a seawater foam; the sphere of salmon and caviar that’s poured over with a sauce of plankton in ‘Kissing the sea on the lips’; and a unique chef Gregoire twist on the classic hot dog inspired by his time in the US and Canada, which places a hot dog of lobster in a fluffy matcha roll.
The flavours are unique and inventive, challenging your perception of what should – and shouldn’t – go together. Chocolates designed to look like olives that are dipped in olive oil and sea salt blur sweet and savoury in a way that shouldn’t work, but does. And our minds are truly blown when we’re served the final course, ‘On the path to nostalgia,’ when a book is set on fire to reveal a bright green waffle with eucalyptus.
Everything about the design of the dishes, to the symbolic plates they’re presented on, to the way the team recite chef Gregoire’s life stories with knowledge and personality, makes this experience one of those bucket list Dubai dining experiences you won’t forget in a while.
Ossiano, Atlantis, The Palm, daily 6pm to 12am, 11-waves tasting menu, Dhs1,250, wine-pairing Dhs845. Tel: (0)4 426 2626. atlantis.com/dubai