The Kitchen at Atomic
Spritz Carlton – Rose Wine, Aperol, Peach, Lemon, Grapefruit Soda
Percussion Gun – Tequila, Mezcal, Lemongrass, Lime, Vanilla
Life’s a Beach – Pineapple Rum, Lime, Fassionola Syrup, Cinnamon, Amaro Underberg Float
Spring Pea Salad – Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas, Asparagus, Watercress, Yogurt & Herb Vinaigrette
Heirloom Carrots – Cumin, Coriander, Cress
Grilled Long Beans – Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Greek Feta, Lemon Caesar Dressing
Bone Marrow – Roasted Beets, Rhubarb, Red Onions, Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Grilled Halloumi Cheese – Heirloom Tomatoes, Summer Herb Salad, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil
Cauliflower Steak – Pan Seared Cauliflower, Cauliflower Puree, Shaved Cauliflower & Caper Salad, Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
Hanger Steak – Grilled Fennel, Grilled Radicchio, Burnt Orange Vinaigrette
Porterhouse Pork Chop – Rum Brine, Grilled Broccoli Rabe, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Rum Jus
Stout Chocolate Cake – Dark Chocolate Ganache, Cherries, Cocoa Nib, Sea Salt
Fried Apple Pie – Cinnamon Whipped Cream, Pecan Dust
Although Atomic Liquors has existed since 1952 it is far more recently that The Kitchen at Atomic has emerged as a downtown destination, its migration from Bar Food to creative American Cuisine begun by Justin Kingsley Hall and now carried on by Chef Jackson Stamper since February.
Only open for two years, the debut of Carson Kitchen in June of 2014 expanding DTLV’s idea of what dining could be and giving Atomic owner Lance Johns an idea to open his own eatery, it is alongside the famous dive-bar where guests used to watch nuclear testing from the roof that The Kitchen is located, a 21+ age-limit noteworthy for both spaces as a result of the adjoining patio.
Devoid of televisions and instead entertaining diners with music ranging from The Beach Boys to Aerosmith, a widely-spaced interior nicely designed with big booths and tables, it is by pleasant hostesses and an educated staff that diners are welcomed from Wednesday to Sunday, the all-new menu concisely divided into four sections plus Dessert tucked in the back of an extensive Cocktail and Spirit list.
Best classified as “market-driven” in its inspiration, Stamper’s five years as Executive Chef at New York’s Employees Only gifting him with an idea of how to introduce a Bar or Speakeasy crowd to boldly flavored Food with a focus on ingredients, it is after selecting one of several Cocktails including a smoky “Percussion Gun” or Tiki-inspired “Life’s a Beach” that ordering ensues, nearly half the items Vegetable focused and several able to be made Vegan.
Combining “Small Plates” and “For The Table” as Appetizers, though “Sides” such as Heirloom Carrots charred with Spices also may qualify, it was alongside those Carrots that three dishes started things off, both Sugar Snap and English Peas singing of Spring atop tangy Yogurt Dressing while grilled Beans greater than a foot in length performed beautifully as a base to medium-potency Feta and Tomatoes roasted to concentrate their sweetness.
Only getting to Meat after three plates, melting nuggets of Marrow liberated from the Bone and offered alongside shades of red both sweet and earthy, it was returning to Produce that two additional plates arrived, squeaky Halloumi unfortunately a bit overwhelmed by Mint but Chef Stamper’s Cauliflower Steak absolutely brilliant in terms of flavor with a bevy of textures equally prone to please Vegetarians and Carnivores.
Already celebrating a 14oz Bone-in Pork Chop as something of a signature, the use of Rum in Brine as well as Sauce adding depth to both tender Flesh and grilled Rabe, those seeking Steak can consider Creekstone Ribeye sold at $3.50 per ounce if dining as a group, or the 10oz Hanger cooked expertly and served atop bitter Vegetables brightened by Burnt Orange Vinaigrette.
Hoping to eventually differentiate the Restaurant from its famous Bar, a work in progress that may become further muddled as Jackson and Mr. Johns plan to debut a separate menu of patio plates this summer, those seeking a bit of whimsy right now should not pass on Desserts including Chocolate Cake enriched by Beer and boozy Cherries or a Fried Apple Pie that eats light like Funnel Cake but with lots of subtle nuances thanks to aromatic Whipped Cream and ground Pecans.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Although Justin Kingsley Hall deserves thanks for helping to elevate The Kitchen at Atomic beyond Burgers and Wings, it is from new Chef Jackson Stamper that the menu has transitioned to produce-focused seasonal plates that equally warrant the attention of not just downtown denizens but diners across the Valley.
RECOMMENDED: Life’s a Beach, Spring Pea Salad, Grilled Long Beans, Bone Marrow, Cauliflower Steak, Porterhouse Pork Chop, Fried Apple Pie.
AVOID: Grilled Halloumi Cheese needs less Mint, though it can be avoided by picking around it by those who know their Herbs.
TIP: Wednesday – 5 PM to 11 PM, Thursday – 5 PM to 11 PM, Friday – 5 PM to 12 AM, Saturday – 5 PM to 12 AM. Sunday – 5 PM to 11 PM.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.