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It's all going swimmingly.

Byline: Natalie Long, Deputy tabloid! Editor

Rostang is the place to go for an outdoor seafood brunch with French oysters and a magical fish soup.

For a city with miles and miles of coastline and year-round alfresco eating weather, Dubai has a shocking lack of restaurants serving great seafood outdoors.

You know the places: rustic beach shacks (read: no toilets) run by gnarled fishermen who'll serve you a snapper that's freshly popped out of the water, slammed on a charcoal grill and dished up with something frosty on the side.

In any other warm-weather seaside town in the world, you'll get the equivalent: New Orleans has its oyster po'boys, in Mexico you'll get a fish taco, and in Spain, Italy and Greece you'll find plenty little restaurants cracking out gambas a la plancha on the dockside. In southern France, you'll find soups and stews like bouillaibasse - because their fish are ugly as hell, but full of flavour - served in cafes lining the seafront.

Dubai really has no excuse. Do we have hideous fish? Muddy beaches? No and no. (Gonu bar, at the Le Meridien Al Aqqa in Fujairah is the closest I've found to the real thing: waves lapping at your toes while you tuck into a simple barbecued hammour.)

Michel Rostang, at his Brasserie Rostang at Atlantis, is hopefully the first of many to remedy the issue.

The Brasserie serves a French-style seafood brunch - with outdoor seating, although it does overlook the rather unfortunate monorail that now runs along the Palm. What sets it apart from other seafood buffets around town? To begin with, the excellent bread - a sourdough loaf that's got the right amount of tang to counteract the heady iodine rush of the oysters. Pile on some of that salty French butter, too.

There's a wide variety of French oysters, which the man at the raw bar will arrange on a tray for you, along with snow crab legs, which I always find too dry and stringy, as I did here.

Instead, try the creative new takes on seafood tapas, like the duck liver layered with raw tuna and seaweed, a winning combination of fatty, smoky mackerel with lentils or the smoked hammour teamed with briny-popping capers and waxy potato in a cold salad. Do not - please, do not - skip the magic of a French fish soup, a boatload of fish and shellfish blended and sieved into a grainy bowlful of sunshine, topped with rusty garlic-saffron mayo.

Mains bring Riviera classics like cod with garlic mayonnaise (aioli) and whelks, a nod to the east with a brothy salmon and lemongrass, or a comforting roast chicken with green peas, for those who want to take a step away from the sea.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 17, 2009
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