As a control freak, taking a risk on one of Atina’s themed nights, where the drinks and food are only revealed when you arrive, is real progress for me. Having eaten there numerous non-themed times, however, I knew the odds of delicious delights were high.
A £10 deposit pp secures the booking (£32 per ticket – you pay the rest after eating) and all the food and drink for the evening are included. For the New Orleans, Mardi Gras night, this turns out to include six cocktails and five courses.
We’re welcomed warmly and shown to our table, sitting opposite one another in the middle of a table of six. Initially, our innate Britishness wins and we make self-conscious conversation, wishing we’d been sat by ourselves. But it’s not long before the first Southern Comfort based cocktails kick in and we’re all excitedly discussing the menu.
It’s Roast Beef Po Boy’s to start, with deep-fried okra chips. We eagerly tuck in, enjoying the live band and exchanging notes on the best veggie burger in Chester – the couple next to us are adamant it’s Atina’s.
Then it’s onto the Shrimp Boil – the star of the show for me. The shrimp are beautifully cooked and the platters are huge. We can’t get through the whole thing, knowing how many scrumptious sounding courses still await us (but I put in a stellar effort).
I’m getting pretty full but then the Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo arrives with cornbread and it’s heaven – we all hand back empty bowls, rub our happy, bloated bellies and await dessert. There’s always somehow room when the food is this good.
The cocktails just keep coming too – better yet we’re asked if we want to double up when they’ve accidentally made too much. The answer of course, is yes. I’m chuffed to be sipping on two Mint Juleps. A nice chap from Southern Comfort pops up whenever we get a new drink, talks us through the ingredients and how it should complement the course.
I haven’t had SoCo since being a student and didn’t think I was a fan, but you know what, five drinks in, I like it, I like it a lot.
We all mutually agree that this concept is wonderful; no mulling over a menu or queuing at the bar, just a regular influx of tasty treats. I start thinking over cutbacks I can make so I can afford to do this every month.
It’s Bananas Foster time, hurray! The couple next to us have left early due to needing to get back to their puppy. It’s sad because we really like them, but we feel better after eating their desserts. I no longer know where all the food I’m eating is going, but I’m on a boozy-sugar high and it feels great.
I’m not sure what’s going on anymore – but now there’s cream and pastry on top of a green drink. It works for me:
It’s late, we’re all full and flushed and the volume of chatter is loud. It feels like an exclusive lock-in. Everyone’s obviously had a tremendous night – how could they not? Staff have made every effort to create a seamless event for a packed out venue and delivered course after exceptional course. And it’s only £32 – incredible value for money.
There’s just time for quick gin at The Coach House on the way home, and a peek online to see when the next themed night is (4th Sep by the way – looks Scottish and gin-tastic). Keep abreast of future nights here. Trust me, give yourself a gift; Tuesday’s don’t taste any better than this.