- Griffin Swartzell
- The unique linguiça sandwich features broccolini.
Atmosphere Gastropub, co-owned by Back East Bar & Grill owners Mike and Megan Davis, cleaves to the first description more strongly. The space sports an on-the-nose, modern, hip design job built around its central bar. Chef/co-owner Steven Bailey’s menu has a few trendy items like a quality duck poutine with duck confit and peppercorn gravy, and he’s created a few dishes that stand outside of what’s trendy altogether.
Take the linguiça sandwich: It’s simple, highlighting the name-granting Portuguese pork-and-paprika sausage with sautéed broccolini and roasted garlic puree on a roll. Neither my colleague nor I can recall having seen broccolini on a sandwich before, but we agree it works — a little greenness and bitterness, counterpoint to roasted-to-sweetness garlic and the salty, savory punch of that sausage. It’s a good combination assembled independent of familiar constructions. Is it mind-blowing? No. But it’s sound and satisfying, and the side of house kettle chips does good too, especially dipped in a suggested side of rich house blue cheese dressing.
From small-plate options, we try a goat cheese jar and togarashi Brussels sprouts. The former, a layered jar of chevre, pesto and San Marzano tomato jam, comes with crisp crostini, making for a fun, build-your-own caprese analog. The latter sees sprouts fried to roasty-nutty perfection, enhanced by spice and sesame seeds in Japanese shichimi togarashi seasoning, with salt and savoriness bolstered by linguiça bits and a fried egg. We’re happy with a veggie naan flatbread sorta-pizza, too. Its peppery fresh arugula and savory oyster mushrooms balance juicy, sugar-sweet cherry tomatoes and simple tomato sauce.
Location Details Atmosphere Gastropub
Dessert’s also a series of home runs — cinnamon ice cream does wonders with Dazbog-roasted espresso and hazelnuts in a pour-it-yourself affogato. The orange drop doughnuts land fritter-brown and brioche-heavy with Nutella and bourbon vanilla ice cream playing nice with their orange zest subtleties. The strawberry Napoleon ditches traditional puff pastry for almond tuile, which works well with macerated strawberries and basil; bourbon pastry cream adds sweetness and depth.
Ten glorious taps tempt, as does a generous wine list, but bar manager Loren Lee doesn’t miss a trick. We try a cocktail of the day, the Broken Negroni, which swaps gin for prosecco, a fruity compromise between the punchy classic and its Campari-vermouth-soda predecessor, the Americano. The New Old Fashioned pairs Woodford Reserve bourbon with brown sugar and Luxardo cherry syrup, finishing with a caramelized blood orange. It’s sweeter and less boozy than the traditional, but warming and satisfying.
The Porton 1684 combines Peruvian Pisco with lime juice and agave, made powerfully aromatic with rosemary and jalapeño slice garnish, a fine margarita replacement. But our fave’s the Lost at Sea, a Goslings rum and ginger beer Dark and Stormy amped up with habanero-ginger shrub served in a cedar-smoked glass and garnished with slapped mint. Capsaicin spice and an impressive ginger bite pair nice with a subtle tang that erases all hints of saccharine rum-and-soda constructions. It’s an elevation of something familiar, the promise in the gastropub name made real.