It has been in development for so long that the very idea of it had become abstract. We’d sit on the patio of Atomic Liquors, staring unfocusedly at the unfinished former Doc's Automotive space next door, and we’d say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a gastropub in there?” Amzaingly, this week, that atom finally split in two: The Kitchen at Atomic is now open, and it’s worth every moment spent waiting and wondering. With a solid food menu created by chef Joshua Horton, an ocean-deep beverage menu that includes everything from craft beers to single malts to grappa, and an unfussy vibe that is at once sophisticated and welcoming, the Kitchen has hit the ground running. Few new-school Fremont Street establishments have folded themselves into the fabric of the neighborhood this quickly.
A proper Weekly review of the Kitchen at Atomic is forthcoming. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you stop by and try a few things, beginning with my new favorite Downtown cocktail, the Chasing Basil—aquavit, elderflower, lime, a pepper medley and basil leaf mixed into a perfect summer evening. I imagine I'll put away a lot of these over the next few months, breaking up the streak with intermittent forays into a splendid beer list featuring such offbeat options as a barrel-aged Avery Apricot Sour, a Cloudwater Rum Ba Tripel and Pizza Port's Smoked Chronic amber. The food menu is every bit as eclectic, from its shared plates (poached lobster mac and cheese bites, steak tartare with caper remoulade) to its main dishes (a prime rib dip with horsey cheddar, a BLT with three kinds of bacon and more). And the veggie burger, a black bean patty on a brioche bun stacked high with avocado, onion sprouts, red pepper hummus (and, for the non-vegans, your choice of cheese), is perfect fuel for a late night in Fremont East ... and when you factor in the crispy waffle fries, an absolute steal at $10.
I haven't said much about the look of the place, but honestly there's not much to say—and I mean that in a good way. The walls are painted white and hung with vintage Vegas photos; the booths and chairs are muted shades of gray and orange respectively. Twin glass-faced garage doors open the bar up completely to the Kitchen's two patios (the one it shares with Atomic Liquors and a walled-off, more intimate side patio), and to the nighttime energy of Fremont East. Like its neighboring bar, the Kitchen at Atomic doesn't wholly trust to gimmicks to provide vibe; it counts on its crowd, and on its friendly and talented staff, to provide a good feel. This is the puzzle piece that Downtown has long needed, and it's great to finally see it in place.
The Kitchen at Atomic 927 Fremont St., 702-534-3223.