Atlas Restaurant is one of those establishments that has quietly built a loyal following over the years while staying a bit under the popular radar. The restaurant was founded by Jean Donnelly and Michael Roberts, and changed hands a couple of years ago when it was taken over by Diane and Bryan Carr, who also own Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Cafe & Wine Bar.
Nestled as it is on a tree-lined, largely residential stretch of Pershing Avenue, Atlas has a bit of the feel of a European sidewalk cafe. Inside, we found the restaurant shared a similar classic, understated vibe with its sister establishments, but without the hustle and bustle of downtown Clayton. The pace of the neighborhood during our visit seemed a lot slower and more amenable to relaxing and enjoying a leisurely meal.
We always like seeing what local bartenders come up with when left to their own devices, so we ordered a Bartender’s Special ($9) to sip on while deciding on dinner. The drink changes bi-weekly, and during our visit, it was an effervescent concoction of sparkling wine and St. Germain, served in a Champagne flute with a lemon peel garnish. Very simple, elegant and refreshing. The Atlas wine list provided plenty of fine bottle choices, as well as a good selection by-the-glass. We chose a crisp Chilean sauvignon blanc from Amayna ($8) to help us in our decision-making process.
We started off dinner with the Sauteed Shrimp ($9), which had mushrooms and tomatoes and was served with garlic crostini. Good thing we saved some bread, because we didn’t want to waste a single drop of the delicious broth. We also sampled the Soup of the Day ($7), which was a hearty cream of mushroom.
As we’ve said before, a diner can tell a lot about a restaurant from the care the kitchen takes with the house salad. The Mixed Lettuces with Radishes ($8) at Atlas was a delectable indicator of what we would experience in later courses. The tarragon vinaigrette it was dressed with provided a subtly sweet counterpoint to the greens and radishes.
For our mains, we had the Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli ($19) and the Linguini ($20). The raviolis were perfectly formed and tender. The flavor combo of spinach and goat cheese is one of our personal favorites, and the delicate pasta really let these tastes shine through. The dish was accented with toasted walnuts, which provided a nice contrasting crunch, as well as wild mushrooms and parma reggiano. The fresh linguini came with a generous portion of wild mushrooms as well, along with asparagus, tomato and fresh mozzarella. The presentation was colorful and fairly rustic.
Atlas also had a small outdoor dining area in front of the restaurant, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine or dining al fresco, and the restaurant recently introduced a weekend brunch service, which we hope to graze through soon!
Atlas Restaurant, 5513 Pershing Ave., 367-6800, atlasrestaurantstl.com