Atami’s seductive Wallpaper*-esque design – all dim lighting and low-slung, pan-Asian influences – attracts Westminster’s political crowd and, in the evenings, the odd trysting couple seeking the dark corners, away from the sweeping glass walls. The menu is a mix of traditional Japanese dishes, newfangled fusion ideas, and a few meaty grills (ribeye steak, marinated lamb chop) that are seemingly there to satisfy meat-and-two-veg types unfamiliar with the Japanese menu. We steered a course for traditional Japanese and weren’t disappointed in our tender, delicate yellowtail maki or tempura onion and sweet potato (although the tempura batter was slightly on the thick side). A more modish dish of deep-fried soft-shell crab and spinach wrapped up, nigiri-style, in a thin slice of cucumber and served with a citrus sauce studded with green peppercorns, was an unexpected delight: simultaneously hot, crisp, cool and sharp. ‘New-style’ sea bass sashimi wasn’t served au naturel, as is traditional ‘old style’, but instead drizzled with a vibrant, fresh-tasting shiso vinaigrette of which Nobu would have been proud. Prices reflect Westminster expense accounts and service can be dozy, but the standard of cooking generally warrants the wallet damage.
37 Monck Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-2.30pm Mon-Fri. Dinner served 5.30-10.30pm Mon-Sat.|
|Transport:||Tube: St James's Park tube|
|Price:||Main courses £12.50-£21.50. Set lunch £8.50-£18.|