Hey Lovelies, how are we all?
Today I’m starting a new series on the blog, cleverly entitled (IMO), ‘Alphabet Soup’, talking about the wide range of eateries we have in and around Chester.
I’ve lived in Chester for 4 years now, after moving to study at the University. Even though I’ve only been here for a relatively short period of time, I’ve seen so much change in the city for better and worse, but the main thing I’ve noticed (being a chunky girl and all), is the AMAZING food Chester has to offer.
It’s fast becoming an inside joke amongst residents that Chester is essentially one big coffee/pound/charity shop, but in actual fact Chester is easily the biggest advert for independent cafes and restaurants for miles around.
That’s if you can drag yourself away from the plethora of Costa Coffees (we even have one in PRIMARK for christ sake – why?!).
My plan for this series is to basically eat my way through Chester with friends and family (maybe, who knows), starting with A and ending with Z.
I’m going to keep it as independent as possible, although I realise it’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially when it comes to certain letters, e.g. Z = Zizi’s.
So, true to the Alphabet, let’s crack on with today’s review!
A = Atina Kitchen
It is customary to leave the best until last, but as Atina Kitchen starts with an ‘A’, and this is an alphabetical food series, I’m forced to fly in the face of tradition.
I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only started visiting this amazing place this year, after so long of walking past it to go to Wetherspoons or Revolution…*cringe*
The first time I checked Atina Kitchen out was the day I went to see Coldplay, I needed to make sure I’d eaten before heading to Manchester and my friend had spotted them on Twitter, so we decided to give it a try.
THANK GOD WE DID.
I love it when you find a place that is consistently amazing in EVERY aspect. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been to places that look cute, the food LOOKS good but the eating, the service and the price just isn’t that great. All fur coat and no knickers, so to speak.
This place though, this place has it all!
Atina Kitchen is a family run restaurant, drawing upon their Italian heritage and mixing it with British/Worldly influences. ‘Classic British mains sit alongside Italian pastas and modern burger dishes to create a contemporary menu fit for individuals of all ages and tastes.’
They really do have something to suit everyone, you want breakfast at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday, sure no problem! You’re craving a pulled pork ‘manwich’ with jalapeño coleslaw and beautifully cooked chips? *drools a little* They’ve got you covered! You’re bored of pulled pork and want something different? Pulled Lamb anyone? You want some nibbles to share with friends over a good bottle of wine? Sorted! You’re looking for quality seasonal ingredients in all the dishes? Duh, of course!
You get the idea.
They say a large part of our experience with food is with how it looks. I would say that not only is the food carefully put together with care and attention, but the surroundings, well, they’re basically a bloggers dream.
As soon as you walk in, you can just FEEL the quality and attention to detail. With the black and white photographs in mis-matched photo frames and thick velvet curtains draped in the entrance, all waiting to reveal the hidden treasure behind it (a little cliche, but it’s worth it). You walk inside and are greeted by friendly staff, a beautiful combination of dark wood furniture and cozy cushions and a visual feast in tiny details/decorations.
Recipe books scattered on bookcases, necklaces act as artwork (also for sale, I believe) in addition to actual artwork and beautiful pastel teacups and saucers are laid out in alcoves, straight from one of your of your favourite Pinterest boards.
When I walked in the first time I thought it a little small. I’d been into little cafes before and it didn’t bother me, but Atina was at that point quite full and I didn’t relish the idea of sitting on someone’s knee while I ate my lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to find Atina extends down a corridor, into a ‘back room’ next to the kitchen and out onto what I believe to be the sweetest garden terrace in Chester.
What I love about this little terrace is that you just wouldn’t expect it to be there. Looking at the outside of Atina, you wouldn’t expect it to have so much space and yet there I was nestled between two red-brick buildings enjoying the sunshine eating a pulled pork feast from heaven!
The terrace is decorated with ample shrubbery, plant pots, hanging baskets and fairy lights, you don’t feel like you’re just sat out the back by the bins in some cheap cafe (VERY far from it!). Every time I visit I ask to sit outside, weather permitting of course!
It’s fair to say I probably haven’t done as much taste-testing as I would have liked in the run up to writing this post (jk, I’m just greedy), BUT I have tried out enough to know it’s worth going back to (again, and again and again…).
Like I said, my first visit was the day I saw Coldplay. My friend and I called in for lunch and we sat outside. We were handed old copies of the National Geographic magazine and nestled inside was the Atina Kitchen menu. It took us a while to figure out what the hell we wanted, everything sounded AMAZING, but eventually we both decided on the same thing, ‘the Atina ‘manwich’ and chips’.
It sounds kind of basic, but the prep (and my cravings) made it an irresistible choice. The meat is from the neck of the pig, marinaded for 48 hours and cooked slowly on a low heat, locking in the flavour of the meat AND the marinade.
The food arrived after a short time, carefully arranged on a large wooden slab with a mound of hand-cut seasoned chips, a neatly spooned dollop of jalapeño coleslaw and a ciabatta stuffed with pulled pork and cheddar that couldn’t help oozing onto the slab of wood and boasting about it’s deliciousness.
To say the portions were generous is an understatement, I got half-way through and seriously started to struggle. It was too good to leave though, so I forced myself to carry on and rolled out of Atina a happy woman.
The second time I visited I ordered the regular Atina breakfast. The regular breakfast featured everything you could wish for on a traditional English fry-up. Bacon, sausage, egg, beans and a giant slice of toast, I added an extra hash-brown for a few pence more because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t have at least ONE potato product a day…
The eggs were cooked how we wanted, I asked for poached and my friend ordered scrambled, both came out completely perfect.Tea was served traditionally, in a beautifully decorated teacup and saucer with a strainer and everything – none of that tea-bag rubbish!
Once again everything was beautifully laid out and we couldn’t have wanted for anything, which nicely brings me onto my final point.
Each time I have visited, I’ve been served by a different member of staff, but none of them have ever been less than funny, interesting, attentive, cheerful and enthusiastic about their products. As I said, we’ve never wanted for anything while being there, the staff have always been attentive to our needs and able/willing to strike up an interesting conversation and inject their personality into the general experience.
In terms of prices, yes it’s a little more expensive than your standard Weatherspoons, but I suppose if you’re planning on trying Atina Kitchen, you’re not looking for the lovely Weatherspoons experience!
I would say for breakfast you’re looking at about £15-£20 for two people (depending on what you choose and discounting any extras of course) and for lunch around £25-£30 for two, again subject to the dishes you go for. You may think it a little steep, but you could quite easily go up the road and spend as much in a Bella Italia or a Nando’s and not have as good an experience!
Atina Kitchen is the perfect balance between modern and contemporary, while also having a deep respect for the past and tradition. The care, love and attention to detail permeates through the building, you’d be a fool to walk past this place again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post, let me know if you try/have tried Atina Kitchen in the comments below. Similarly, if you think of any good places to try in Chester for my Alphabet Soup series, dont be shy, I want to know!
Till next time,