Monday, 5 August 2013

Atmosphere Cafe

24 Carden Street
Guelph, ON


In her opinion:
We were serenaded by Juno Award nominated Canadian band Hollerado as we enjoyed our lunch at Atmosphere Cafe! Not too many people can actually say that...but we can!

I should start at the beginning. Wanting to try something new in the area led me to check out Urbanspoon's Guelph restaurant listings. It had been a while since we had been to Guelph and knowing that their restaurants had never disappointed me, I wanted to go for lunch. I loved Baker Street Station (read post here) and I enjoyed Salsateria before as well (read that post here), so I thought it was time to try a new place in the Royal City.

After a little research, I choose Atmosphere Cafe. I loved the look of the building, I liked what I saw on their menu and I knew that they had a patio which we might be able to enjoy. Unfortunately, what I didn't know was that it sits right in front of Market Square and that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (who happen to be waiting for a new replacement venue for Ivor Wynne Stadium and are using Alumni Stadium in Guelph) would also have their home opener celebrations there. That meant that there wasn't one open patio table available. No biggie, we took our plans inside instead. 

Atmosphere Cafe is a long narrow space with the bar and kitchen against one side of the wall and seating down the other. It has natural exposed stone walls and a great vibe to it. Unfortunately, do to the CFL activities going on outside, the wait staff were overwhelmed. This meant we didn't get the best service in the world but at least they kept apologizing for it during our stay.

After checking out the drinks menu and the drinks blackboard, I settled for the drink of choice at Atmosphere for this day...a pint of Hoegaarden

Hoegaarden is a Belgian-style witbier. It's very similar to our Rickard's White here in Canada (I actually prefer Rickard's White). It's a wheat beer and has the characteristic hints of coriander and orange/citrus flavour to it. It was my first time having a Hoegaarden and I enjoyed this beer quite a lot.

We decided to order a few things off the menu and share instead of ordering full meals. We opted for a "Wellington County Platter" consisting of "Pate en Terrine, made from locally sourced Veal, Pork and Chicken, Trio of Deviled Eggs, Housemade Grainy Mustard, French Baguette and Organic Greens", "Smoked Salmon Crisps" which were "Canadian Smoked Salmon, Homemade Potato Crisps, Green Onion with Lemon-Dill Aioli" and the "Pulled Pork Pizza" which is described on the menu as "Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Carmelized Onion, Feta and Mozzarella".

I must say that this was the perfect food to enjoy with our Hoegaardens (I think I like saying that name)! The pizza was exceptional...really really good. Cheesy and flavourful. The Smoked Salmon Crisps were refined. I think the subtle flavours of the lemon-dill ailoi worked perfectly with the crisp potato and delicious smoked salmon. I was most excited about the Wellington County Platter but I was most disappointed by it to be honest. The pate terrine was okay...not fabulous...just okay. The trio of deviled eggs turned out to be two pieces of one type of deviled eggs. The organic greens were fabulous though. The dressing was flavourful and delicious. I must say that the French baguette was thoroughly enjoyed by our son who devoured it when our waitress brought us some requested butter!

The drinks were good. The food for the most part was excellent. The fact that I could hear Hollerado from where I was sitting in the restaurant playing their award winning music was priceless. 

You see, Hollerado was hired to play at the Tiger-Cats home opener celebration. They played a few of their hits and sounded perfect. Unfortunately, they were playing on a uncovered stage which meant that when the rains began to fall heavily on Market Square, Hollerado had to end their gig for fear of electrocution. Can't say I blame them. But it was awesome to have them play while we ate.

I liked Atmosphere Cafe very much. If you are in Guelph, you should check them out!

In his opinion:
Guelph has had a re-resurgence in the culinary realm lately. Many new exciting restaurants are opening in this university town and many of the staple restaurants are scrambling to stay current. All this translates to more choices and better food for everyone in the city and those visiting.

We, as nearby visitors were cashing in on just that. Visiting a relatively new restaurant that had opened on Carden Street, with a interesting menu and a little buzz roaming around on its approval. We. unfortunately picked the wrong day for the patio because the Ti-Cats Festivities had taken over the whole street, including the patio at Atmosphere, which was our initial target.

We sat inside instead and decided to make the most out of the air conditioned room that helped cool us all down on this hot day. The restaurant itself is long and narrow with a bar on the right hand side as you walk in. It seemed to be a favourite for university students and the place was literally filled with them.

On this hot summer day, service started out nothing short of abysmal  I'm not sure if it was the inexperience of the the staff of 2 or just the sheer volume of a "Football Sunday" that had the waitresses scrambling around to keep the tables happy. Food took a while to get to our table but when it did, it was worth the wait, I suppose.

I ordered a Hoegaarden beer which I found refreshing for this muggy, hot day. It is a Rickard's white like beer, orange slice included and all.
As far as food is concerned, we decided to just get a few items and share them, very much in the "Football" party style that surrounded us. 

I'll start with the "Pulled Pork Pizza" which was one of my favourite parts of the meal. This pizza is topped with slow roasted pork shoulder, caramelized onions, feta and mozzarella. As many of you might know, I'm not usually a caramelized onions type of guy but these were thinly sliced and not overcooked so that the "crunchiness" was still there at every bite. The pizza was very good and the combination of the 2 cheeses worked very well together.

The "Smoked Salmon Crisps" were next and they felt almost like a miniature hard shell taco with salmon. They are packed with flavour at every bite and a very refreshing dish for a summer day. Perfect for sharing...

Lastly, was the "Wellington County Platter" which in my view was the disappointing part of the meal. It consisted of pate en terrine from veal, pork and chicken and frankly had a bit of an identity crisis. Felt and tasted a lot like what we used to call as kids "Random Meat" and not refined at all. The trio of deviled eggs turned out to be just one egg cut into two, not sure what that was about. Literally the best part of this dish turned out to be the organic greens and its flavourful dressing. 

The Good: Great new little restaurant, perfectly located with an adventurous menu and decor to match.
The Bad: Service was lackluster to say the least and needs some looking into. Also when you say trio on a dish please ensure there are 3.
The Verdict: Overall, the food was good, you can see a touch of higher thinking on the menu choices and the possibility of it becoming something more than it actually is. One of the barriers will be matching the available items to the customer base as the university students besides us looked like they were at an advanced math class when browsing the menu.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating

Atmosphere Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

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