Smooth Dining at Atelier M
Atelier M at Pier 7 certainly knows how to set the mood. The French-inspired restaurant, which occupies the top three levels of the building, is split into a dining room, a lounge and a rooftop terrace. As I get off the elevator, I’m greeted by the smooth notes and sultry voice of a musical duo performing in the main restaurant, which is like a scene from The Great Gatsby.
The art deco interiors are bathed in tones of gold and silver, with chandeliers and glittering mirrored columns. There is an open kitchen, but it comes across as more of a background element. I find myself more focused on the live music, the energy from the diners around me and the gorgeous view of the Marina than anything that’s happening in there.
The menu isn’t very heavy on vegetarian options, but there’s enough for a decent meal. A bread basket is brought over after I place my order, along with some deliciously creamy butter that’s made in-house. I find it odd that two pieces of bread were randomly put onto my plate without any sort of description of the breads or even a choice of what to pick. In a lavishly designed restaurant, small details like that tend to stick out. That being said, it’s the only hitch in service I experience during the evening.
My first appetizer is Creamy Sauteed Spinach, served with a poached egg and wafer thin rounds of crisp garlic toast. The spinach tastes good but is fairly standard overall. The egg lends the dish a little more substance, but while it’s described on the menu as ‘truffled’, I don’t get any truffle flavor. My favorite part is the garlic toast, and I’m disappointed there’s not more of it. In fact, I would have preferred a plateful of garlic crisps with a spinach dip served on the side.
The second appetizer, Truffled Asparagus, is a pleasant surprise. The richness of the truffle is nicely infused in the asparagus, which has a slightly softer texture than usual. Small pieces of sun-dried tomato and violet potato crisps add complementing color and flavor element, resulting in a fairly solid dish.
For main courses, I try the Slow Roasted Eggplant, which is something of a signature vegetarian dish, and Burrata Tortelli, which is a bit of a surprise, as I’m used to seeing burrata in the appetizer section. In terms of presentation, the eggplant looks a bit drab. It’s a dull looking slab surrounded by dark brown sauce, but don’t let that fool you. Eggplant slices are layered on top of each other along with parmesan and herbs, which is reminiscent of moussaka. The sauce is a shimeji mushroom and soy ‘caramel’, with the sweetness and acidity of balsamic vinegar. All the flavors are quite robust and complement each other perfectly.
The tortelli are served in a truffle butter sauce, along with shaved black truffle, cherry tomato halves and micro herbs. It looks like a fairly standard pasta dish at first, but when I bite into the tortelli, I notice the burst of creaminess from the burrata, which helps to even out the sharper flavor of the truffle and the tartness of the tomatoes.
There are some interesting looking dessert options, but I finally settle on the passion fruit mascarpone cheesecake, served with a ‘chocolate marble’. I have a bit of a weakness for cheesecakes and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint, with a mix of rich mascarpone and floral passion fruit jelly. The ‘chocolate marble’ turns out to be a sphere of milk chocolate ice cream served on a bed of biscuit crumbs. It also tastes good, though the two elements seem more like separate dishes rather than components of a unified dessert. There’s also a smear of blueberry compote dividing them on the plate that doesn’t add much to either of them.
The vegetarian fare at Atelier M has some good flavors for the most part, but is a bit limited in terms of options. If they choose to expand that in the future, it would be worth a repeat visit for sure. Until then, it’s better suited for having a small bite over drinks while enjoying a glittering view and some smooth tunes.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Good flavors, live music creates a vibrant atmosphere, great view of the Marina
Cons: Limited vegetarian main course options, dessert had a disjointed feel to it
Price: $$ (50 - 200 AED)
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