Early one Sunday evening, I rummaged through my closet trying to find the perfect dress. We had a 9:15pm reservation at At.mosphere, a restaurant located in Burj Khalifa stationed 122 floors high, so I wanted to find an outfit that would match its extravagance. Dressed for the occasion, my husband and I entered through the Armani Hotel lobby that leads up to the restaurant, walking past the subtle refinement of the hotel’s elegant monochrome palette. Two elevator changes and the inevitable ear popping later, we reached the 123rd floor and were told to make our way down a sumptuous helical staircase that took us straight into At.mosphere.
This is the highest restaurant in the world (let that sink in) with floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking, 360-degree views of the Dubai skyline – one of the restaurant’s most appealing aspects. But it’s not the least bit intimidating – the Adam Tihany interior design ensures a refined yet relaxed ambiance, while the dining room’s intimate crimson and black palette and plush leather upholstery are illuminated by lacquered mahogany wood beams and wall panels.
An interior view of At.mosphere Burj Khalifa
Just as we seated ourselves at the table overlooking the Dubai Fountain, we glanced at the city around us from an unusual height, its glistening high-rises and sea stretching as far as the eye can see. The staff, attentive but not intrusive, served us with At.mosphere’s signature sparkling apple juice with edible gold, fittingly opulent for an evening spent in the world’s tallest building with views equally surreal. Then came a selection of breads, French baguette, olive bread and cheese croissant, served with herb and plain butters. We lingered over the puffy, cheesy croissant, so fresh out of the oven it crumbled as I gently split it, revealing a perfectly layered, pillowy inside.
Among mocktails, we ordered Red Dragon, a refreshing citrusy drink mixing beetroot and grapefruit juice with litchis and raspberry purée, and Passionata, my personal favourite, with a great blend of passion fruit, orange and pineapple. Tropical Smile was At.mosphere’s take on the timeless piña colada – coconut purée mixed with passion fruit and mango.
Foie Gras Parfait
We indulged in the At.mosphere Signature Experience menu, a decadent seven-course meal, with dishes all reasonably portioned and brought out at regular intervals. Executive Chef Christopher Graham creates an unfussy, vibrant seasonal menu with an evident lean towards seafood, inherently European in flavour with strong nods to French and Spanish cuisines. The British chef makes no concessions on the quality of the produce and among his greatest strengths is harmonisation of various flavours.
First, we were served a delicious Salmon Tartare, packed with flavour and varied textures, an impressive preview of Chef Graham’s technical skill. Chūtoro Tuna brought a dash of Japanese flair to the table – this fusion dish featured the fish’s belly resting on silky, luscious minestrone, a signature Italian soup, served with a scoop of avocado ice cream. The dish offered an intensely flavourful blend of salty and sour, the avocado ice cream was a perfect summery addition that cleansed the palate. Foie Gras Parfait with cherry and Szechuan pepper was beautifully plated with goose liver as the clear star of the dish. As advised by the server, we had every bite with lightly toasted bread, a crispy and fresh accompaniment to the dainty and smooth delicacy that is foie gras.
Dry Aged Beef Tenderloin
One of my favourites from the evening were the Hand Dived Scallops. Seared to perfection, their sweetness was paired with the saltiness of crunchy goose bacon bits and baby gem lettuce, all rounded off with a silky, unassuming pea purée. The Slow Cooked Organic Egg with Parmesan, truffle and asparagus packed a punch – the egg’s velvet consistency intact even after being cooked for 60 minutes. The server recommended to mix all the ingredients together in order to enjoy the dish’s choir of flavours, and rightly so.
For dessert, we devoured Malt Cremeux – a delicious, silky caramel mousse between layers of chocolate that crackled with a tap of a spoon, with the addition of swirls of tangy kumquat syrup and a dash of tonka beans. Then, we received a surprise treasure chest with dark and white chocolates, tidily placed on pebbles amid smoke that emitted as we opened the box – it seemed like the chocolates were afloat on clouds – a literal analogy to our very presence at At.mosphere – we were seated amidst the skies.
There’s great attention to detail at At.mosphere: steak knives are branded ‘122’ (the restaurant’s floor), the dinnerware is thoughtfully selected, and the sea bass was served on a speckled blue plate, almost as if it was resting on a seabed itself. At.mosphere offers a multisensory experience at an altitude of 442 metres, fine-tuning the traditional gastronomic experience that will linger long in your memory. Like its astounding height, dinner at At.mosphere is out of this world.
The Degustation Menu at At.mosphere starts from Dhs880 per person. For more information visit Atmosphereburjkhalifa.com