Toronto Star

Million-dollar chef more creative now than ever

The Atlantic restaurant focuses on subtlety after Times of London review


Toronto chef Nathan Isberg was anointed earlier this year with a Million Dollar Review by a hotshot Times of London restaurant critic.

Has it swelled his head? Made him change his ethos? A resounding no. But Isberg, known for his experiment­al ingredient­s, and the unorthodox remunerati­on system at the Atlantic, his Dundas St. W. restaurant, has started taking more risks. So to speak. If you know Isberg, that doesn’t mean getting aggressive with ingredient­s, too kicky with flavours or creating food for the sake of art (he’s been lauded for using exotic ingredient­s, such as cricket, appropriat­ely and to sublime results).

This “Philosophe­r Chef,” as named by critic Giles Coren, is taking his dishes to an even more cerebral level. A subtler level.

“It’s about doing things differentl­y but doing it very delicately,” he says. “The idea is almost sort of like ghost flavours.”

You’ll sense and taste the sturgeon marrow and cedar oils in what Isberg sets on your plate, but, he says, you probably won’t be able to pinpoint the object of your pleasure. That’s exactly what he’s going for. With customers and high-profile clients practicall­y banging down his doors with requests for tables, Isberg has been nervous customers would be expecting more of a show.

Instead, the internatio­nal acclaim has given him freedom, he says “to be more creative” — his way.

“Before, there was a certain sense of ‘this is a restaurant,’ a place where people expect something in particular,” he says. “But I’ve started to see people coming in who are into an experience that’s not typical. That does give me a lot of licence.”

 ?? MICHELE HENRY/TORONTO STAR ?? Chef Nathan Isberg of the Atlantic restaurant on Dundas St. W.
MICHELE HENRY/TORONTO STAR Chef Nathan Isberg of the Atlantic restaurant on Dundas St. W.
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