I just got home from a lovely date night/(belated) birthday dinner at The Atlantic. My friends and I have been meaning to go to for quite some time. We actually tried when we first saw BlogTO’s post about the restaurants million dollar review. That’s where we learnt of the premise of the restaurant. There is no set menu. Nathan Isberg buys fresh ingredients daily and cooks you what he feels like. There also is no bill. You pay literally what you think the meal is worth. You can even barter other goods and services.
We had a reservation at 7pm (opening time). We wandered around the area until a little after 7 because you can’t really tell the restaurant is open from the outside. We strolled in after 7 and chef Nathan Isberg came out of the kitchen in the back to greet us. As far as we could tell tonight, he was the only employee: the chef, the server, and the greeter. We were seated and told the premise of the restaurant.
The first thing we were brought was a drink. Nathan had recently made the decision to eliminate alcohol from the menu (except for bottles of wine on special occasions). Our first drink was some sort of warm apple cider with spice and bitters. It was delicious and warmed us up from the cold weather outside.
A soup was also brought out at the same time (pictured above). It was an Austrian squash soup with rose, lentils and a kick of spice. Though the cider also had a spice, it served also to cool down from the heat of the soup.
Our second course was a salad that consisted of a beautiful poached duck egg on a bed of greens with roasted cauliflower, goat cheese and beets. The combination was delicious. We were especially in love with the goat cheese.
It was served with a cherry shrub drink with a hint of elderflower. Shrub was a splendid complement to the salad as it provided more acidity. It was almost like a second salad dressing when you sipped it after a bite of salad.
The main course was a Striped Bass with mushrooms, noodle-like turnips, kimchi in an yuzu broth. The fish was perfectly cooked and we wanted to lick all the components off the plate (including the yuzu).
It was paired with a matcha tea, yuzu, honey and jasmine drink. It didn’t work on it’s own as well as the other drinks but when sipped with the main course it was superb.
The dessert was fried apple with brown sugar topped with fried apple peel surrounded by a delightful whipped cream. Our plates were cleared within minutes. Nathan jokingly asked if we wanted seconds and we legitimately thought about it for a second.
The whole experience was very delightful. I call it “experience” because it really was that. It’s a night you have to plan for because it will take a few hours. But I actually didn’t mind waiting for my meal (and neither did anybody else there). We had plenty of time to chat with each other at the table and anticipate with excitement at each course.
When it was all over, we didn’t know if we should pay and leave or what was the protocol so we waited for Nathan to come around and retell us the barter system. There was no pressure whatsoever to leave any kind of amount. We had all the freedom to decide for ourselves and I feel we left a fair amount. I decided not to publish the amount as I feel like it’s based on the whole experience of the evening, and every person would have their own set of opinions and experiences.
This is seriously one of the best and most memorable meals I’ve had in my life and we can’t wait to go back already!
2 thoughts on “Pay What You Can Meal @ The Atlantic”
Have been meaning to check this place out. Cool concept but I feel like it would stress me out trying to figure out how much to leave… But maybe that’s just me. Food sounds amazing!
There was no pressure to leave any minimal amount! We loved the entire experience