Roaming Cuisine with a Permanent Home
Claim to fame: A fresh take on world cuisine every four months
Reason to go: Great wood-fired cooking, wherever the globe happens to stop spinning
To look out for: The next stop on the grand tour
Try not to think about the pho tartare. It’s gone. Let it go. Yes, there was something pretty magical about the way it combined the flavors of everyone’s favorite beef noodle soup with everyone’s favorite way to eat raw meat. Yes, those rounds of charred onion, set among the crisps of rice and the drops of cured egg yolk, were a really nice touch. As was the way the beef was a little smoky, even though it was raw. But it’s gone and it’s not coming back. It’s the Atlas way.
Death is the mother of beauty, Wallace Stevens said, intimating that it’s the knowledge of the inevitability of loss that gives moments of grace on earth their charge. So it is – very broadly speaking – at Atlas Dining. The name isn’t a reference to Chef Charlie Carrington’s interest in the works of Ayn Rand, rather it denotes his global outlook. Though Carrington isn’t interested in the remix so much as the deep dive: every four months, Atlas changes cuisine. And everything from the previous menu – no matter how good it was – gets remorselessly consigned to history. (And, given the stellar presentation work, to Instagram as well.)
So if you didn’t get in for the Vietnamese season, the first stop on the restaurant’s itinerary, which ran from September to December 2016, you missed the boat. And by the time you read these words there’s a very good chance you’ll have missed out on the Israeli one as well. Which is a pity, because even compared to the bright-burning culinary constellations of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Atlas’s take on the cuisine of the region stands out, whether it’s in the choice of black cardamom and brussels sprouts as a complement to exquisitely grilled lamb, or in the sinful lushness of sweetbreads, tomato and chickpeas served with house-made challah.
There are some constants: wine is consistently impressive, and so is the service. And then there’s the centrality of the grill: Carrington spent time in the kitchen at Firedoor in Sydney, and the brilliance of the fire-driven cooking there clearly rubbed off on him.
The next stop after Israel is Korea. All aboard!