I always associate Atomic Espresso with garish lycra.
The South Perth cafe used to be overflowing with the stuff on a Saturday morning when bikies – not the scary ones, the annoying middle-class ones – would rendezvous there for breakfast after zooming around the river on their fancy push bikes.
That was many moons ago, but I still can’t shake the image of middle-aged accountants and lawyers in fluorescent green shorts, munching quinoa.
Thankfully there wasn’t a hint of lycra when I visited Atomic for lunch on Tuesday.
Situated on Mends Street, just up from the ferry and almost opposite The Windsor Hotel, it’s part of a swish little strip of cafes, shops and luxury apartments.
Since my last visit umpteen years ago, Atomic has undergone a serious makeover and the alfresco has now been upgraded with a towering ceiling and the insides decked out with wood panelling and chic light fittings.
It’s a stylish and demure facelift – think Nicole Kidman not Joan Rivers.
The menu was a large affair and had a massive range of breakfast and lunch dishes.
I eventually plumped for the mushroom bruschetta ($19.90).
After ordering at the counter, I sat in the alfresco and enjoyed a cold pressed juice ($9.90). A nice medley of flavours including beetroot and ginger. It was pleasant, if a little on the watery side.
On a cold, wet winter’s day, the sheltered alfresco was nice and cosy and the cafe was teeming with retired wealthy people, business folk and randoms like me.
It wasn’t long before the waitress was back with my meal.
There was so much rocket on my plate I could have travelled to Alpha Centauri and back, so I dived straight in, mixing a fork-full with egg, mushroom and toasted ciabatta.
The mushrooms were nicely cooked with a strong meaty punch and there was plenty of them, but I would have liked my egg a bit runny.
You didn’t get that satisfying ooze as you pierced the yolk, but the toasted ciabatta was lovely with a satisfying crunch.
And what about the rocket? A bit too much for me; it needed some other greens on the plate to mix things up.
In hindsight I would have probably gone for another poached egg to bulk things out, but at under $20 it was good value as a lot of breakfast dishes are $25-plus.
I rounded off my meal with a cappuccino ($5.90) which was piping hot and well made, but a bit on the strong side for my tastes (I like them milder).
There was nothing wrong with my lunch at Atomic, but nothing particularly exciting either and it sat firmly in the middle of the road – like one of those annoying cyclists who deliberately stray out from the cycle path.
By STEPHEN POLLOCK
1/21 Mends Street, South Perth