Sometimes you walk into a restaurant and you can just sense that somebody has put their heart and soul into it. That’s exactly how I felt last Tuesday evening when visiting Atlantik Corner for the first time. From the little details, to the big concept that envelops their entire menu, no aspect of the dining experience had been overlooked; no aspect deemed too trivial.
Atlantik Corner is a Portuguese restaurant, but with a twist. There’s no cliched chicken peri peri on offer here. This is fusion cooking at its best. Unbeknown to me, Portugal has strong historical links with Brazil (that part I knew) but I wasn’t aware of their ties with Africa and India. So with flavours from these foreign lands having been thrown into the mix, the result is a menu that can only be described as a masterclass in uniqueness.
Nuno de Noronha Goucha, the owner of Atlantik Corner, was a fountain of knowledge when it came to wine, decor and all things delicious from Spain’s next-door neighbour. Hailing from Portugal himself, the restaurant is clearly a labour of love and he explained that the concept behind the menu was to encapsulate all things ‘Atlantic’ – rather than the Mediterranean food that’s often held in such high esteem when you mention the south of Europe.
Kicking things off (and naturally, with a story behind it) was a delectable duck pate served with oaty biscuits that Galician sailors used to take on their voyages (for when their bread went bad). Well, I can only attest that they were some lucky lads because the marinheiras were so good that I could’ve snaffled the entire bowl and tipped them into my handbag, you know, to keep my hunger pangs at bay.
This was teamed with an ice cold Alvarinho wine that was perfectly chilled and was able to covert even the most diehard Crianza drinker. Then to really ramp up the ooh’s and aaah’s, a selection of homemade bread appeared, served effortlessly in a tiny cloth bag bestowed to the restaurant by none other than Nuno’s own Mother – a nice touch, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I feel it’s worth a mention at this point that given it being a Portugese restuarant, the tile porn was off the scale. Gorgeous floors partnered the equally gorgeous food – ensuring that all senses were assaulted with loveliness. After the surprise appetiser, we plumped for three dishes, all designed to be shared and all incorporating an electric mix of ingredients.
We tried a ravioli de gambon – the pasta was wafer-thin (my favourite) and the prawns were pink, plump and perfect. This was followed by suprema de vaca, teamed with two spicy sauces, mojo picon and Thai green curry – I told you it was unique. And then came the final showstopper – a carabinero al carbon.
Now until fairly recently, I’m not ashamed to say that I was pretty squeemish when it came to all things ‘under the sea’. I watched the waiter somewhat apprehensively as he squeezed the head of the carabinero with force, resulting in lots of gooey goodness, which laced the cous cous with an almost syrupy flourish. I tried not to think too intently about what it was exactly, but what was undeniable was the taste – I could’ve licked the plate.
Now some peeps after that little lot would be full, but I like to think that when it comes to appetites, I’m not most people. Not a huge dessert fan, once again I took advice from Nuno and went for a torrija de brioche. There are no words to describe how good that pud was so I won’t even attempt it – however, what I will say is that I’d go back for that alone. Not that it’s the only thing that will ensure a repeat performance – the menu del día (priced at a bargainous €14.50 for three courses) should have people flocking in droves.
So with dinner concluding and me being somewhat in awe of the tile/prawn combo, I wondered what was left to conquer in terms of the excitement stakes – well how’s this for beyond cute? You could leave an actual message in a bottle. No I’m not just quoting Sting for fun – the team behind Atlantik Corner urge you to write a wish before you leave, and leave it safely ensconced in a bottle and they’ll do the rest – aka, throw it into the Atlantic Ocean for you.
Wanna know what I wished for? That they could come up with a calorie-free version of the torrija, so that I could tuck in morning, noon and night.