The space is laid out so that most interior seats provide at least a glimpse of any foodie's dream open kitchen, while not being pretentious the way a lot of open kitchen restos are in New York and elsewhere. The double-story dining room is almost entirely lit to not compete with candlelight, and the outdoor patio area has the feel of Paris street cafes that have largely disappeared since the 1990's.
Initially I was slightly confused by the number of individuals that assisted my dining companion and myself because I am accustomed to the New York City standard of a host/busboy/server combination.
The management at Atrium seem to have informed their staffing model after European and a small percentage of New York institutions where the staff is composed of many fluidly communicating individuals to make sure that each diner is given ample service, but only as needed to benefit the experience.
The staff were some of the first properly seasoned, or properly educated, in fine dining service that I have come across in a new restaurant in a great while. As with the general attitude of the space, the menu, and the kitchen, there is a lack of pretense which is charming. When the products are as good as those utilized in Atrium's kitchen, it is possible to be casually confident instead of pretentious.
We had the butter lettuce salad and the farm-raised Sasso chicken for two. A salad is a salad, but the right touches of dressing (in the right amount), and a handful of ingredients not typically seen to keep company were added to this favorite to make it an ideal light start to a meal.
I am on the fence when it comes to eating meat, and not far from falling off on the side of being a vegetarian because meat in the United States is often poorly/cruelly raised, handled in a way that is both disrespectful and unhealthy, expensive, lacking in flavor, and far from the highlight of any meal. I was informed that the farm-raised Sasso chicken for two at Atrium had lived a better life that most people. Might've listened to Jazz, even. It showed.
The chicken is presented as a duo: First, a pot pie featuring the dark meat of a very happy bird with root vegetables, and a creamy gravy liberally flecked with black truffle and sealed into it's baking dish with a pastry that hits the right balance of buttery, crunchy crust and chewy crumb. It's like a membrane of croissant, and when we punctured it, the pie gently sighed truffle over the table.
Second, he white meat is boned, left in it's skin, and roasted to seal in juices while nicely caramelizing the meat in its own fat. This portion is served with grilled trumpet mushrooms, crispy wedge cut potatoes, and a dill creme fraiche. This chicken tasted chicken. It's the chicken that made Julia Child horny.
The bar at Atrium offers unique craft cocktails as well as house spins of classic favorites. The dessert menu is properly tempting without being overwhelming, and I am very pleased to say that it also includes a good selection of cheeses for dessert as is consistent with the French sensibilities of Atrium's food philosophy.
This is an ideal spot to commemorate a special occasion, host a food-aware business colleague, or simply treat yourself to the kind of meal that isn't possible for most to prepare at home. Even if you could cook on this level, you'll want to experience this food in the comfortable dimness of this thoughtfully designed venue where the chef is hot in a way only the French seem able to pull off, the staff is friendly in a way Americans expect but cannot explain, and the food reminds diners what real food tastes like.