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Reviews and Such Restaurants

Atrium on Albert – 48 Albert Street

The Atrium is located in the Albert hotel, in the space that was occupied by Alycia’s.

I heard awhile ago, that the Underground Cafe has reopened. It has, as The Atrium on Albert. The Atrium is located in the Albert hotel, in the space that was occupied by Alycia’s.

original review

Atrium on Albert menu cover
The front cover of the menu for The Atrium on Albert Street.

The Atrium is only open from Wednesday to Saturday, beginning at 11 am. So, it took a couple of tries before I was able to make a visit. I am pleased to say, that although there is a location and a name change to the restaurant, the food is still really good. 

One thing worth noting is that, although the food is much the same, the menu is still be developed, so it may be a while before the menu is expanded to the size it was at the Undeground Cafe.

The Atrium on Albert at Lunchtime

I arrived for lunch at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. At my arrival time, The Atrium was almost empty. I hope this is not a sign of things to come, because this is a great little restaurant. I am glad it has returned, new name or not. It is possible that I had just missed the lunch rush. 

A mug of black coffee
A mug of strong, black coffee.

I grabbed a table, there are plenty of two-seaters along with several four-seaters, and one or two larger tables. If you go down to the original review, you will see a couple fo great pictures from the Underground Cafe. However, the walls and windows are a little sparse at the moment. There do appear to plans for decoration in the near future

Looking through the menu, I decided I wanted to order something I haven’t tried before. I went with what The Atrium calls, their “Big Sandwich,” which is essentially a club sandwich, served on marble rye. 

This Big Sandwich is served with potato chips. I also added a side Greek Salad. For beverage I had coffee and water.

The Atrium on Albert Street Big Sandwich.
One of the sandwiches from the Atrium on Albert Street, simply called The Big Sandwich.

I realize the sandwich showed above, might give a sense of perspective that is a little askew. However, it does quite capture quite nicely how big the sandwich actually is. The fillings are thick, and flavourful. Lots of crispy bacon, that you get in pretty much every mouthful. Also, well dressed, so that it is moist, but not sloppy.

There is also a good sized serving, both of potato chips and of salad. The total for this meal, including the coffee, came to just a touch over $20.00, taxes included. This is a very hearty and satisfying lunch.

I look forward to The Atrium getting to the point where they can expand their opening hours and their menu offerings. Yes, the Sunburger is still on the menu.

I especially like, that as in the Underground Cafe days, they are nearby Old Market Square, and Fringe Festival sites. I hope to experience both again this coming summer. 

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Original Review

It’s been a while since I’ve posted much of a food related nature That’s because I’ve attended and reviewed a few Fringe plays. Of course, one gets hungry visiting the Fringe. So, I decided to visit the Underground Cafe. The Underground Cafe is located on Arthur Street not far from Old Market Square.

Underground Cafe Wall Art
One small sample of the wall art at the Underground Cafe.
Underground Cafe Violinist
Violinist among flowers at the Underground Cafe.

Underground Cafe is located in the basement of 70 Arthur Street.The building operated as a warehouse for many years. The cafe is a nice, cool relief from hot days at the Fringe. It can however, be easy to miss. Fortunately there’s usually a sign placed in the middle of the sidewalk to catch your eye.

Underground Cafe sandwich board
A sandwich board directing you to a place where you won’t be sandwich bored.

The first thing that catches your eye as you descend are murals all along the walls. These depict pop culture figures. The murals are in bright colours against the black walls. They give the cafe a cool vibe to go with the cool temperatures.

Dining Underground

The first time I visited, the cafe was just finishing lunch service. Even at that, about half the tables were still occupied. I got my seat and my server told me that the daily special was a dollar off of the Sun Burger. Reading through the menu, it’s clear that the Sun Burger is the specialty of the house. I ordered that and added a Greek Salad and French Onion soup to make it a platter.

The Sun Burger is just one of many vegetarian and vegan offerings on the menu. Underground Cafe is a good place to visit if you are in a group where both vegetarians/vegans and meat eaters are together.

I requested my soup before the rest of the order. It was quite flavourful with plenty of onion. What I really liked were the croutons. They were larger than usual. This meant that while the got soft, they didn’t get soggy.

The Greek Salad and Sunburger arrived together. The Greek Salad was slightly disappointing as it had only one olive. Olives are my favourite part of any Greek Salad. The Sun Burger is quite large. It’s also a vegetarian burger. You can go to the cafe menu to find all the ingredients. I found the texture to be good and meaty.

The flavour was quite good. The one thing drawback is that it is a little on the dry side. All in all though it makes for a substantial sandwich. With the salad and soup it makes for a quite filling lunch.

Back to the Underground Cafe

The cafe is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. When I went the second time, I arrived a little closer to closing time. I went for a platter again. This time I ordered The Wendy (an egg salad sandwich), a Caesar Salad and the last bit of the soup of the day, a Tomato Vegetable. On top of that, I decided I’d give one their coffee beverages a try.

I really enjoyed both the soup and the sandwich. I particularly liked the soft marble rye bread used for the sandwich. The soup was also really good. I was fortunate to get the last serving and there were lots of good vegetable bits in it. The Caesar salad was rather run of the mill.

Wendy Sandwich
The Wendy from the Underground Cafe. Along with the sandwich I had a Caesar Salad.
Soup
A very hearty tomato and vegetable soup.

As for the Americano, I think after spending so much time in specialty coffee shops, I find my expectations are very high. This one didn’t quite do it for me.

Underground Cafe Mug
The Americano itself is rather ordinary, but I found the mug to be quite extraordinary.

 

ginger cookie
A pleasing, soft, and giant ginger cookie from the Underground Cafe. A good snack to take on the road.

I did however, enjoy the giant ginger cookie I took with me.

Underground Cafe Wrap-Up

One thing that will bring me back here is that it is good value. Both times I walked away with a full stomach without a real serious hit to the wallet. Also, you can taste the care that has gone into most of the food. The staff is pleasant. They took my orders efficiently, brought my food promptly, and checked on items such as water refills.

There is a sign in the cafe saying good food takes time. However, the ordering proceeds at a leisurely pace. I didn’t find that I waited too long at all on either occasion.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.