It’s one of those places that so often features in articles highlighting the most extraordinary and special dining locations around the world. You’ve all seen the ones I’m talking about – beautiful stilted dining huts in the middle of an azure sea, high-wire connected tree-houses serving extraordinary dishes amongst the exotic greenery; igloos with and ice sculptured dining tables under the Northern Lights and glamorous diners gazing across the table towards the luminous blue tank which hosts a variety of the ocean’s most spectacular creatures as they dig into a plate of beautiful food. The latter is what this review is about.
On a family holiday to Dubai over Easter, we jumped at the chance to forgo the half board dining options in the hotel (away from the screaming children and buffets) and treat ourselves to dinner at Ossiano. Situated in the Atlantis Hotel on The Palm, Ossiano is a dining experience unlike anything I have ever had before. With stunning views of the Ambassador Lagoon right from the tables, Ossiano is considered the most luxurious dining experience at Atlantis.
It has been awarded many accolades and is considered to be Dubai’s most romantic restaurant. If you’re feeling flush you can arrange for a scuba diver to deliver a romantic message to you and your partner through the 70cm glass that stretches from floor to ceiling across the length of the dining room – that’ll cost you about £400. Needless to say, we chose to communicate with each other by just talking across the table.
What I didn’t realise is that Michelin is yet to award stars to the restaurants of Dubai, however, this will change come September. Speaking with our server Razvan (gosh I hope I got his name right!) he said that Ossiano’s hope is that it will achieve 2 Michelin Star status. The food and service that followed justified this, without a doubt.
Though not included in the half board package of our stay in Atlantis, we did only have to pay a supplement for our three-course meal of 400 AED each (approximately £90 per head) rather than the full a-la-carte pricing (which was substantially more) On top of that came drinks and alcohol in the UAE is notoriously expensive and this was no exception. For a bottle of red wine, we were set back about £100. We had two bottles, because holiday. It was gorgeous wine but you can’t help but feel you are paying a Dubai premium more so than a fine dining premium, but that can’t be helped.
I always think the quality of a restaurant’s bread is a good basis upon which you can judge the overall quality, and the bread served to us as our meal began was out of this world. With a variety to choose from (and a waiter keen to let you have as much as you wanted!) we tried them all, with my favourites being the tomato and olive based. The accompanying butter selection was equally beautiful. I had about 4-5 pieces throughout the meal and we specifically sent our compliments through to the pastry chef for them. Alongside these came the canapes which included a smaller than bite size beetroot macaroon which was elegant and appetising.
We were given a surprise complimentary course of a Northern Irish Kerry Oyster with a pickled cucumber and apple granita. I was the only one around the table who knowingly adores oysters, and had to really coax my dad into having his as his last experience of one didn’t end quite so well. While our waiter suggested we knock it all back in one, I’m a firm believer that to get the most of an oyster it should be chewed and I told my family to follow my lead. The oyster itself was smooth and creamy, shucked to perfection and super fresh, and the accompanying sweet and sour flavours from the apple and cucumber was divine. Though only a mouthful, the flavour was bold enough to be memorable. And it made converts out of everyone at the table (apart from my little sister who declared it utterly vile!)
For our pre-starter, we had “spherification”, which is a super clever culinary process of shaping a liquid into spheres. They burst in your mouth to provide an exciting sensation (a bit similar to bubble tea) – this was a floral based dish that really grew our anticipation of what was to come next.
My starter was a duck breast dish, served a beautful shade of flushed pink which cut effortlessly. The pistacio crumb provided a constrating texture to the soft, supple meat. The sweetness of the cider sauce that was drizzled around the meat was subtle and smooth, and the duck wonton sweet and sticky.
For our main courses, all but two of us chose the signature Black Cod dish which came with homemade tagliatelle and a miso glaze sauce. The ones that didn’t order it (namely my stupid brother) looked on with an all-encompassing veil of jealousy and regret as this was the most divine fish dish I can ever remember eating. Black Cod is my favourite fish and with a beautiful succulence, delicacy and elegant flavour, sweetened by the miso, every mouthful was a dream. The freshly made tagliatelli was soft and almost silky in texture, neatly curled beneath the cod. In classic fine dining form there was a beautiful foam adding a further moistness to each mouthful, while colour was injected into the plate with a smattering of green courgette cylinders.
For dessert the whole table, with the exception of my dad, ordered the Chocolate Fondant, but prior to that arriving we were each presented with the pre-dessert made with pineapple and lemon, topped with a sweet and pallet cleansing foam. It was light, fresh and with a zing of citrus that made the mouth water.
The fondant was expertyly gooey in the centre, as we all expected it to be, with a rich, hot chocolate sauce that oozed across the spiralise decorated plate. On top, a paper thin yet crisp chocolate tuille which snapped with the smallest of efforts. The ice-cream, smooth and cold, decorated with gold leaf allowed for a contrasting spoonful combined with the rich, warm sponge.
My old man was the only one who went for the cheese plate, and every element and variety on the plate was meticulously explained by our waiter, with cheeses made from a variety of milks and with varying intensities, though dad didn’t let any of us try a piece!
As we finished our meals and were offered coffees (a decaff cappuccino for me), our end of the meal petite fours were served, including a bite-size matcha and coffee financier and two sugared jellies. The jellies were so soft they practically melted in the mouth along with the sugar, with a subtle sweetness.
This was such a special dining experience for us all, with outstanding flavours and techniques and some of the best service that alone is worthy of the 2 Michelin stars they’re aiming for. Though it was expensive (due to the price of the drinks) it was a once in a lifetime meal in such a magical and beautiful setting. I will never forget that Black Cod, and never let my brother forget that he missed out on it. And I will forever recommend it to anyone visiting Dubai and looking for a restaurant in which to celebrate a special occasion. You won’t be disappointed.