In Vientiane, we're unnaturally blessed with many French restaurants. Trying them all is a burden, as you can imagine. But it is nice to find one that ticks lots of boxes, and that's the new and revamped ATMO.
Known to many by its former nom de plume, L'Atmosphere was popular bar and live music venue near the French Clinic for many years. Now, it's has dropped some letters and moved downtown into a 2-storey building near Lao Kitchen.
ATMO is a restaurant/bar for the office lunch crowd who also like to partake in a glass of wine. Then of the evening, the Gen Y bar hoppers arrive en masse for cocktails and cool tunes.
Rollershutters replace the front wall and when they're up, the restaurant is flooded in natural light. It's a great space. The exposed brick walls are sparsely decorated with blackboard drink menus. A polished cement floor finishes the grungy look and padded chairs keep everyone comfortable. It's a place to linger in.
There's a good selection of French wine by the glass and lots of European beers to choose from too. And they lay claim to 40 different cocktails. Yum.
The menu is nice and short with a handful of options for entrees, mains and desserts. There's also a changing blackboard of specials. We found the veggie samosas and sesame-encrusted salmon particularly good as starters.
ATMO's daily specials also include a selection of lunch only options. They tend to be more of an entree size, like this duck and vegetable tart below, so you may want to get a couple.
Speaking of duck, we tried it as a main for lunch and it was excellent. It's not the easiest meat to cook to perfection so it's always a sign of a good restaurant, I think.
And as well, we really enjoyed the veggie burger which reprised the veggie samosas wedged into a seeded bun with salad. Nice idea.
By the time dessert arrived, I was well and truly stuffed. But in the interests of journalism, and because I can never go past chocolate on a menu, I managed the chocolate mousse. In a word, yum. But with at least 5 other options on ATMO's dessert menu beckoning me, I'll just have to return.
ATMO is also opening its upstairs area soon so it will great to see what they have in store there. Watch this space!
Dining tip: Arrive and order early; when it's busy, you may have to wait a while for your main. Pick a table at the front; smoking is allowed inside which may be unpleasant for non-smoking diners.
ATMO is also a dog friendly restaurant! So, if you happen to have your well mannered pooch with you, bring it along. There's a fat and fluffy cat in residence but he won't bat an eye.
ATMO is open Monday-Saturday lunchtime to late, and closed on Sunday. It's downtown between Lao Kitchen and the Cultural Hall. Street parking.