'Let's just go to Atomica'. It's the inevitable sentence spoken in my household every couple of weeks. Atomica, sitting just below Johnston Street on Brunswick Street, is a heaving den of coffee iniquity that is always packed but almost always has room for just one more.
Toast and jam made luxurious by home-made preserves.
Or maybe a tableful. Atomica sees me dragging my sorry carcass in most weekends with my inevitable breakfast companions. We slouch into the corner booth, for preference, or somewhere in the back where the mid-morning light isn't likely to upset our delicate constitutions. Our desperate cries for coffee are fielded by whatever staff member happens to be swooping by and we sit in silence until that first ambrosial cup lands on our table.
Ah. There should be a word for the feeling that floods the system after that first, perfect sip of coffee of a morning. Possibly a German word. Kaffeehimmel? Whatever it is, that feeling is absolutely guaranteed at Atomica. Although the barista changes with each shift, these are guys who know what they're doing.
Although it's the coffee I'm enamoured of, the food at Atomica is worth a mention. Their breakfast menu offers the usual suspects, but there's always something with a difference. Take their El Gringo eggs, featuring initially as a special and then migrating to the permanent menu. The poached eggs sit on top of a hash brown with spicy hollandaise and somehow it adds up to heaven. You only need to google El Gringo eggs to see how popular this particular dish is.
Most days I stand firm against this temptation and order toast. Not because I'm particularly saintly, but because the jams that accompany toast in this place are so damn good. The raspberry jam has that level of tartness and sugar that it seems to turn to molten sweetness in your mouth. The lemon curd is both lemony and curdy. The apple jam is some kind of miracle meeting of apples and rosewater that just about brings me to my knees in worship. All of these sweet condiments are made in house and I am more than a little bit in love with them.
Atomica is hands-down the best café on the street and with luck always will be. On that thought, why am I telling all of you this? Stay away, it's mine!