L’Atmosphere does not look like the kind of place where one can have a delicious, home cooked (and in some cases even elegant) meal. It is a bit scruffy around the edges, has a curious combination of street art and eclectic furnishings and resembles more of a student hang out than the place to have a gourmet meal. However after the glowing recommendation of a local, I knew I had to try it out.
One metro stop outside the official Paris boundary, and a short walk from the Maire des Lilas metro station is really not that much to sacrifice for this banlieue (Paris suburbs) detour, and if anything adds to the unique charm of the evening. This is certainly not a place where you are liable to encounter tourists. But do not fear if your French is substandard, the waitress is fluent in English too. And get there early, as it gets packed later on (even on a week night!).
The menu is not extensive, and I get the feeling that it probably changes quite often too as strawberries featured heavily when I went. For starters we had the choice between a strawberry carpaccio with honey, lime, peppers and mozzarella (and plenty of parmesan) for €13.50, or a tartare of shrimps with mascarpone and vegetable compote (€12.50).
The main courses included several burgers, a duck dish in cognac, a beef tartare, among others. I chose to share the shrimp tartare and had the duck for my main (€18.50), whilst my friend chose the XXL burger (€16.50).
The starter was an unusual combination of strawberries, and delicately flavoured shrimps in mascarpone, which alone would be a bit bland but topped with the tangy vegetable compote, made for a wonderful starter. Not only was it visually quite attractive but a surprise in flavours too. The portion was quite big so my advice is to share, especially seeing as the mains were quite large too.
The main dihes took a while to come, but this was almost certainly because they were being cooked whilst we waited. It is not often I say this but I loved it. The duck was perfection and the cognac sauce was a perfect complement (and somewhat reminded me of the classier Seb’On in Montmartre), and the ratatouille style vegetables went well.
My only criticism was that it needed something to make the most of the sauce, which I solved by helping my friend eat the huge portion of potatoes that arrived with his truly XXL burger, which went down a treat too.
We gave the desserts a miss as they did not seem that exciting (but who knows given the quality of the food we sampled), but also because we struggled to finish our food as it was.
L’Atmosphere should certainly go on your list to check out, don’t dress up make sure you dress down and enjoy the relaxed environment. We will be going back to check out lunch at some point (you can get the works for €15 at midday), or to join in with the locals and have a beer and a dish of their popular potatoes. Definitely worth the trip.
Address: 1 Rue Romain Rolland, 93260 Les Lilas
Metro: M11, Maire des Les Lilas
Phone: 01 79 64 32 89
Hours: 08:00 to 24:00 Monday to Saturday