Atrium is hardly the kind of place that draws you in from the street. But in a vast back-alley warehouse that once served as storage space for the Skylight Theatre next-door, the Los Feliz restaurant—opened by the team behind Silver Lake standbys Kettle Black and Sawyer—is hiding an airy interior of soaring beams and exposed brick. The dramatic scene alone (there’s an olive tree amid the tables) is worth the detour off Vermont Avenue.
If the dapper spot was meant to function merely as an inconspicuous hangout for celebs cruising down from the Hollywood Hills, someone forgot to tell chef Hunter Pritchett. After a scattered run of pop-ups, consulting gigs, and a short stint at a wine bar, the 35-year-old former sous chef at Son of a Gun has found room to flex his creative muscles, sharply channeling the city’s global flavors in a tight kitchen behind the room’s curved brass bar.
A bright red smear of kimchi butter lends sharpness when spread on a wedge of Bub and Grandma’s focaccia that’s been charred and painted with buckwheat honey. Coated in a crisp, shaggy batter, fried oyster mushrooms pay cheeky homage to a General Tso’s-style preparation, swapping in a glaze made with sticky eel sauce—the same stuff used at gaudy sushi joints. The decadence is almost too much, but intermittent bites of garlicky pickled cucumbers keep the flavors in check. Pritchett shows more restraint with a beef carpaccio that he seasons like carne asada, translating the zesty flavors you’d find in a marinade into a prickly salsa macha. And while it might be a stretch to label the roasted, spice-rubbed head of cauliflower as shawarma—which the menu does—the pistachio-laced zhug (a herbaceous Yemenite hot sauce) that comes with it is as vibrant as you’d find in the best falafel joint.
Playing against Pritchett’s maximalist hijinks (consider the hulking katsu-style pork chop smothered in shaved cabbage and tangy sauce), pastry chef Gregory Baumgartner, previously of 71Above, offers desserts that are elegant and streamlined even as they reveal intricate layers: tahini sorbet with peanut brittle and yogurt foam, or coconut mousse and sweet-basil vinaigrette with a mound of horchata granita. In step with the rest of Atrium, the surprise finish is a welcome one.
1816 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz
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