When you sit down at Atrium, a massive restaurant in Los Feliz, one of the first things the waitstaff tells you is that the dishes on the menu represent different neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It’s a slightly ridiculous concept, but just like your eccentric friend who insists on designing every room of their apartment in a different style, it could definitely work. The problem is that, at Atrium, it doesn’t work. Each dish feels disconnected from the next and therefore everything feels like it was cooked at completely different restaurants.
To be clear, the food at Atrium tastes fine. The octopus tostada is soft and spicy and the focaccia with kimchi butter is the only bread and butter we want from now on. The desserts are also really good. But as a meal here goes on, and cacio e pepe, cauliflower shawarma, and orange chicken oyster mushrooms hit the table one after another, it all becomes a bit too much. And it’s not like we left here feeling like we tasted what Mid-City, San Pedro, or East Hollywood feel like. There’s a place for broad menus, but no one wants to feel like they spent an afternoon walking around Epcot to get it.
One element that does work is the space. Los Feliz is a small neighborhood, and massive new restaurants don’t exactly fall from the sky - except Atrium, which landed in a warehouse off Vermont that previously served as storage for a local theater. There’s a string-lit entrance, a huge wrap-around bar, and enough exposed wooden beams to build a Colorado ski resort. The space is objectively impressive, and in an area dominated by sleepy sidewalk cafes and ice cream shops, it fills a void.
You don’t need to plan a full meal at Atrium, but if you live in the neighborhood and want to grab a drink and a snack or two, you’ll have a perfectly solid experience. And one that doesn’t involve any geography lessons.
Focaccia With Kimchi Butter
This is the best thing at Atrium, which is a bummer because it’s also the first thing you’ll eat here. The bread itself is thick, chewy, and covered in the perfect amount of honey. Combine that with the sourness of the kimchi butter and you’ve got a combo from the gods.
These look great when they hit the table, but are basically just cold shrimp and cocktail sauce. Which, unless we’re waiting around for a wedding reception to start, we’ll pass on.
Octopus “Al Pastor” Tostada
We like this dish. It’s well-balanced and has a nice kick to it. That said, it’s around this point in the meal where you begin to realize that none of the dishes here have anything to do with each other.
If you order this dish, it’s solely because you saw the words “whipped burrata ranch” in the description. Don’t make the same mistake we did. The whipped burrata ranch is actually pretty tasteless, at which point you’re left with a plate of cold vegetables.
Crispy Oyster Mushrooms
As a solo dish, this play on orange chicken is decent. But when placed in the middle of a meal with completely different flavors, the aggressive eel sauce glaze on each mushroom becomes unbearably overpowering.
Passion Fruit Custard
The desserts at Atrium are all very good, but the custard is our favorite. Lined with candied walnuts, this bowl of passion fruit innards is sweet, refreshing, and you most certainly will not want to share it with anyone else.