Cooke makes his triumphant return at Crown's new seafood star
One of Australia’s finest chef imports has returned to our shores and set anchor at The Atlantic, the newest A-list eatery addition to Crown Casino. It’s a homecoming for UK chef Donovan Cooke, who cut his teeth with Michelin-starred masters Marco Pierre-White and Michel Roux, and built his Melbourne renown at Mietta’s Fitzroy, Ondine and Est Est Est.
As the name suggests, the star ingredient is seafood. Cooke changes the menu daily, encouraging a minimalist approach intended to let natural flavours reign supreme.
Highlights include classic dishes elevated to rare heights of skill and quality. Take the beer-battered King George whiting with hand-cut potato chips, served in a paper cone with housemade tartar sauce. “If we’re going to do fish and chips, they’re going to be the best in Melbourne,” boasts general manager John Gray. Quite possibly, they are.
The same could be said for the excellent seafood cocktail, a reworking of that retro ’70s favourite, featuring prawn, bug tail, scallop and soft-shredded crab, all topped with grated apple, prosciutto and a cantaloupe jelly.
Despite its sheer size, the 300-seater creates dining pockets that feel intimate and exclusive. Its interior is all black wood-panelled walls, with hints of a nautical theme – in a good way. Thick black ropes entwine around chandeliers, a curtain is weaved of fine netting, depth markers adorn water glasses.
For festive nibbling, visit the oyster bar for bubbly and a changing selection of fresh bivalves, best served natural (of course). When they’re on the menu, the fat, creamy oysters from Bruny Island are a must.
After dinner, slip downstairs to moody basement bar, The Den, for a Cognac or a cocktail in a rocking chair by the fireplace. Yes, this is one restaurant we’d call a great catch.
Where: Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank
Phone: (03) 9698 8888