Ossiano swims across to Mumbai

Executive Chef Gregoire Berger of one Michelin star restaurant, Ossiano at Atlantis – The Palm, Dubai

Gauri Devidayal meets visiting chef, Gregoire Berger from Dubai’s Ossiano restaurant and enjoys a memorable meal with an aquatic theme at San Qi at the Four Seasons in Mumbai.

In an age when satire abounds, extensive tasting menus and a more casual approach is the flavour of the day, Chef Gregoire Berger, Executive Chef of one Michelin star Ossiano, is unapologetically embracing progressive fine dining. The restaurant located at Atlantis – The Palm, in Dubai, is a truly immersive experience. Guests can enjoy a menu inspired by the ocean and seas, in a dining room that is surrounded by a 40 ft aquarium filled with stingrays, sharks and fish.

Amuse Bouche – Illusion of a cherry tomato, Hamachi fish and bell pepper taco.

The Ossiano experience was transported in part to San Qi at the Four Seasons in Mumbai in March 2023, in collaboration with Culinary Culture and American Express. To recreate the aquatic ambience, large screens surrounded the dining room streaming live footage of the aquarium in Dubai. Guests were welcomed with a glass of Villa Sandi Il Fresco Prosecco Treviso Brut DOC.

The eleven-course tasting menu, titled Wanderlust, kicked off with a trio of amuse bouche: an illusion of a cherry tomato, a Hamachi and bell pepper taco, and crab stuffed in a miniature rice paper crab. It was recommended to enjoy each of these in one bite. The unexpected burst of flavours that followed was a sign of the adventure that lay ahead and the course lived up to its name “Euphoria of a New Departure”.

Ossiano has a formidable wine list and while this was one part that couldn’t be replicated in Mumbai, diners had the pleasure of interacting with its sommelier Danijela Tesic, proud winner of the title of Michelin Star Sommelier 2022. The meal was paired with Metal Label The Vermentino and Borgo Conventi Cabernet Franc Isonzo del Friuli DOC. For those preferring something stronger, there was Hayman’s London Dry Gin.

The menu continued to surprise and delight. The next course — “Kissing the Sea on the Lips” — was a light, airy foam of cauliflower over a bed of trout sashimi and seawater caviar. This was followed by sweet shrimp swimming in a clear broth, peppered with yuzu and dry miso. What was intriguing through the meal was Chef’s bold choices to introduce sweet flavours midway. The next course, an early palate cleanser of sorts, was his version of a tequila shot, served with a citrus sorbet, aptly titled, “Bittersweet Sunset”.

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A trio of olives.

Berger unabashedly explained to me at the end of the meal that his menu is all about storytelling, presentation and gimmicks. The next course on the menu lived up to this reputation and was by far the table’s favourite: sea urchin served in a box dramatically clouded in smoke, followed by a mini campfire moment of apple marshmallows, a live fire, and a roscoff onion. While the menu
highlighted more delicious seafood, ironically the highlight of the meal was a roasted chicken served in a triple bouillon — “Late afternoon filled with laughter and love” — the title of the dish
capturing the mood perfectly. A second palate cleanser of olives (or were they?) was followed by the pièce de resistance – a pear ginger yogurt dessert. Chef Gregoire mentions earlier in the meal that pastry was his strength. There is no doubt.

Still, only in his 30’s, Berger, a native of Brittany, has already made waves on the global culinary stage with his cutting edge, unconventional dishes refined with traditional French techniques that
has become his signature. He is the youngest and only chef in the UAE to be featured in the top 100 in the Best Chef Awards for five consecutive years, so it must have come as no surprise when
Ossiano catapulted straight to number 4 on the Middle East & North Africa — MENA 50 Best Restaurants 2023.

While the menu in Mumbai was only a glimpse of what the restaurant offers in its home base, this was a meal which won’t be forgotten anytime soon.