Magic comes to life at Dubai’s Atlantis The Royal, where artistry, alchemy and ambiance combine to push culinary experiences – and tastebuds – to the next level.
Words: Lauren Romano
The flourish of a gold leaf garnish placed with painstaking precision; the fiery spectacle of chefs flambéing in an open kitchen; the hot glow of a sunset from the 19th-storey window that momentarily distracts you from what’s on your plate; the maître d’ who welcomes you by name on arrival: the recipe for a memorable meal can encompass many elements.
At Atlantis The Royal’s 17 restaurants – eight of which are helmed by celebrity chefs – exceptional food is a given, but it’s only the start. That’s because dining here goes beyond the everyday. Much like the legend of Atlantis – the utopia civilisation that sunk into the sea without a trace – Atlantis The Royal in Palm Jumeirah is a place where the imagination knows no bounds.
Rising 43 storeys high from the Arabian Sea to meet the sky, Atlantis The Royal's gravity-defying exterior – blocks symmetrically stacked like a work of art – sets the scene for what awaits inside. Step into the lobby and you’ll be greeted by the sight of more than 4,000 jellyfish gliding hypnotically through the world’s largest tank.
But untethered creativity is most evident when you sit down to eat. It’s no surprise that Atlantis The Royal is where the world’s most decorative chefs – culinary alchemists like Heston Blumenthal OBE – come to experiment.
Swap the sunny shores of Dubai for 12th century England at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. One for the most serious gastronomes, put your senses to the test with trompe-l’oeil creations such as meat fruit, a playful and puzzlingly real-looking mandarin that masquerades as a sphere of chicken liver parfait. Additional theatrics come courtesy of nitrogen ice cream, conjured up tableside in a puff of smoke and served with sugar-coated fennel seeds or apple popping candy.
At Estiatorio Milos, by acclaimed chef Costas Spiliadis, wild oysters plucked from the Greek isles and whole fish tartare are artfully arranged over ice at the raw bar. You’ll feel unable to resist the conviviality of sharing as you reach for your first taste of the sea. The sprinkle of Aegean rock salt and generous drizzles of olive oil from centuries-old koroneiki trees accentuate the fresh marine flavours.
Seafood takes centre stage at La Mar by Gastón Acurio, too, where you’ll find yourself transported to Peru with bites of fresh-from-the-sea ceviche and sashimi style tiraditos. These are best enjoyed with a glass of pisco while drinking in the views on the outdoor terrace.
Next up? José Andrés, the only chef to have a two Michelin-star restaurant, four Bib Gourmands and a Nobel Peace Prize. At Jaleo, he has recreated his favourite childhood dishes from his native Spain. Sip on a large glass of summery sangria and watch as hearty paellas are cooked in front of you on an open flame. It’s this human touch and secrets from family recipes that have also inspired Persian Kitchen, the debut restaurant from award-winning TV chef and cookbook author Ariana Bundy. Caspian-style filet kebabs and rose-scented sea bass are studded and jewelled with nuts, fruits and subtle spices, reflecting the palatial and exotic setting, with its ornate Arabian archways and chandeliers.
For something sweet, there’s Mich Turner’s Little Venice Cake Company, which has baked indulgent creations, layered in icing, for the likes of the late Queen Elizabeth II and (the notoriously hard to please) Gordon Ramsay. Or disappear into a realm of nostalgia, as you’re served a pot of Darjeeling, finger sandwiches and scones at The Royal Tearoom. Once again, feel yourself slipping into a place and pace of life that’s metaphorically miles away from your surroundings.
If one cuisine isn’t enough, you can take a tour of the whole globe in one sitting at Gastronomy, a buffet restaurant, styled on a food market. Watch as the chefs sizzle, shuck and season, while you savour the sights, sounds and scents of the world’s most celebrated cuisines being prepared. A place to expect the unexpected, Atlantis The Royal might be a creative playground for culinary greats, but it’s you that will have the most fun.
In a city that has become rapidly synonymous with the finer things in life, Atlantis The Royal came to the table with the intention to be the most talked about around town. There’s no shyness; it aims to be the biggest and best, to shock and awe, and to surprise at every turn.
This might just be Dubai’s most soaring and extravagant venture yet…