Atomic Cafe drink recipe: Lexington bar, restaurant closed
Dinner with the past
Sometimes local bars and restaurants come out of nowhere, change our palates and leave far too soon.
Such was the case with Atomic Cafe, the latest restaurant to be part of our ongoing “Cooking with the Past” recipe series where we dig up favorite menu items from closed restaurants.
Unlike DeSha’s cornbread or Brooking’s chili, Atomic Cafe brought something new: Caribbean cuisine.
And Lexington fell in love. Virtually since opening at 265 N. Limestone in January 1992, the North Lime pioneer has been a hit.
Menu favorites included island flavors such as coconut shrimp, jerk chicken, conch fritters, mahi-mahi in banana leaves, fish fritters, ceviche, ropa vieja, black beans and rice and spicy cornbread.
For a while, there was no happier place than the patio behind the popular restaurant, sipping a fruity drink while munching on sweet potato chips and salsa (such a revelation for the times!) .
And then there were their signature drinks.
These are the recipes we want to highlight this time: The Rum Runner and Champagne Caribe.
Whether you sat on the covered terrace or inside the bar with its tropical flair, Atomic Cafe was fun. It was in an old building, renovated by Tim Mellin in the late 1980s for an elegant French restaurant called Acajou. After the French chef left to open his own restaurant, Mellin, Linda Hoff and Dale Holland opened the Atomic Cafe with colorful murals and reggae music.
Mellin remembered that the first few days were so fun, with the restaurant packed every night. “Mahogany was just a few years too early. Atomic Cafe was a better fit,” he said. “It was great energy.”
The Atomic Cafe closed over Labor Day weekend in 2015 after a tough rainy summer. Mellin hoped someone would resurrect him, but that didn’t happen. Still. Mellin said recently that there has been interest in bringing him back.
Today, the building is empty and for rent, after the upscale Grillfish closed in 2019.
This story was originally published April 14, 2022 06:00.