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Posted by Staff / Reviewed on November 16, 2010 / review policy

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoThe Atlantic on Dundas West is dissimulated among a string of old school Portuguese sports bars. On a Thursday night it's completely full but myself and four friends manage to squeeze into a tiny booth to take in the sights and order some wine.

The decor is fisherman kitsch, if that's a genre, with scavenged paintings of ships and wooden everything.

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoOur server is friendly and helps us match wine with the menu's small selection of dishes. As we agree on our food choices, our group is moved to a larger table. We're thankful for the extra space when our dishes start to arrive - tapas-style shared dishes means an abundance of elbow room is required.

The menu is printed on strips of paper and refreshed daily. We order most of the day's offerings including the 3MF salad which comprises crickets and grub aioli. Dishes come one by one, accumulating rapidly in front of us.

First out is the boa bread ($4), three slices of grilled bread served with a velvety white bean spread and a soft bulb of roasted garlic. The winter salad ($6) follows with a subtle but tasty mix of crispy cabbage, buttery walnuts and sweet beets.

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoNext up is the salmon belly on creamy Dungeness crab risotto ($14). I'm not usually a fan of this fatty cut of salmon, but in this case the taste and texture are fitting. The risotto is deliciously chewy with generous morsels of crab meat smothered in rich sea urchin veloute.

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoThe 3MF salad ($6) arrives inconspicuously, looking like any other beautifully-presented salad. Given the restaurant's dim lighting, the crickets are not immediately obvious. While some at our table are too intimidated to try, those of us who dare are smitten - the dish has an earthy taste, with fresh greens, lemony aioli and crispy crickets.

The chanterelle ragout ($10) is a crowd pleaser and disappears almost instantly. A comforting combination of bouncy fregola pasta and creamy gruyere, it's sprinkled with chewy wild mushrooms and topped with freshly grated cheese.

The seared Qualicum Bay scallops ($14 - top photo) are another favourite. The scallops are meaty and their smoky taste lends itself well to the accompanying Riesling-braised sauerkraut.

The haddock meuniere ($14) is not as well received. A rather bland filet served atop mashed potatoes, some mention that a variety of textures could have made this dish more exciting. The caramelized cauliflower soup ($6) also fails to impress. It's beautifully presented and relatively tasty, but pales in comparison to the other menu items.

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoAs a finishing touch, we order both available desserts - a pumpkin mousse ($5 - photo above) and a dolce de leche crème brûlée ($7). Both are sweet, creamy concoctions that have us scraping the bowls with our spoons.

A combination of the small space and animated conversations have led us to interact with the restaurant's other diners. As we leave, both the patrons and the serving staff bid us farewell, a perfect ending to a memorable gastronomic experience.

Atlantic Restaurant TorontoThe Atlantic is open from 7 p.m. 'til late, every day except for Sunday.

Writing and photos by Brigitte Noel.



rick mcginnis / November 17, 2010 at 09:19 am
Had crickets once at an "insect tasting" in Montreal; stir-fried with Moroccan spices. Very tasty. A word of advice, though: Stay away from the black ant maki rolls. (cough cough carapace caught in throat.)
yum / November 17, 2010 at 07:27 pm
I had an awesome dinner here. Unfortunately, I too was unimpressed with the fish plate which was the last served. But, everything else made up for it.
bullring / November 17, 2010 at 08:00 pm
Looking at the outside I would never guess food like that was served there.
W / November 14, 2011 at 11:33 am
I was there last week, and even though the restaurant wasn't full it took nearly an hour and a half from the time we sat down to get our first appetizer, with no explanation. The service was condescending and infrequent, and the food was only so-so. A shame, since the place appeared to have a lot of potential.
jim / March 13, 2012 at 04:10 pm
i've been about 10 times and the service is always friendly and timely. the atlantic is a great spot for dinner with friends or your lover. great music, great atmosphere, always tasty food. the food is well sourced and always interesting.
Scott / May 16, 2013 at 01:05 pm
As this is just around the corner from me, it is a frequent date-night spot for my wife and I. I've never had a bad dish here, let alone a bad meal. The service is always friendly, attentive and makes the experience that much better. I love this place and take every opportunity to introduce it to people I can.
wigwag / August 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm
This is my favourite restaurant in the city. The most amazing flowery salads, ash gnocchi, tobacco brulée (the latter two bliss to the smoker in me) – so many tastes I've never tasted anywhere else. Only fish, fowl (and insects) on the menu... nothing on four legs, which is fine by me. Plus, "We make what we want, you pay what you want Mondays", and just a really good neighbourly feeling.
The wine list is tiny but everything is so thought out. Love it, even without having ordered the crickets.
Me / July 13, 2014 at 03:00 pm
So so good! Went here for a birthday dinner with 12 friends and it was outstanding! Great wine, cool ambiance and fantastic food. I'll definitely be back.

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