I’M still recovering from my epic bruiser of a meal at Atomic Diner, formerly known as Atomic Pizza, and sister restaurant to Atomic Burger just up the road.

It was my daughter’s choice, a birthday bash, and where else to venture than a celebration of everything that is frowned upon at home – ice creams loaded with cream, chocolate and sweets, onion rings big enough to strangle you, burgers that require a dislocated jaw to eat, and chips in more shapes and sizes than a carpenter could fathom.

In fact anything to do with sugar, salt and fat, was ushered out defiantly on plate after plate of fast food, which was exactly what we were there for, so bring it on.

Which Atomic restaurant to choose had been a challenge in itself, this diner eventually ticking all the boxes as it sells both burgers and pizzas.

Parking was an absolute nightmare, most clientele presumably walking there from their homes in East Oxford, but we finally found a parking space just before Mr Greedy had a total sense of humour failure, turned around and drove straight home.

All of which was forgotten as we approached the gaudy, eye-catching, unmistakeable exterior.

The kids were entranced by the silver surfer above the door, and as we walked in were fascinated by the strange retro games. They recognised the Darleks but not the VHS cassettes or the Space Invaders. Atomic Diner is now retro retro, which made me feel about 105.

As it was scorching hot, we chose the garden, although it was a bit threadbare out there and needed a lick of paint, some new tables and chairs and a couple of signs to smarten it up a bit.

But of course, once you’ve admired the cartoon paraphernalia, comic book heroes, and small boys bedroom mentality, it was the the food we were here for, and we dived in accordingly, my arteries quaking in fear as I read the menus.

My children had ordered their fruity fruit milkshakes (£8.50) before I had even sat down, presumably so that I couldn’t protest, but even they balked when they saw the thick vanilla and chocolate concoction framed with a large waffle balanced on top, covered in cream and chocolate sauce with spaceship sweets sticking out. I’d say it was vulgar and unhealthy, they’d say it was sick.

By now my arteries were screaming in terror as we ordered the nachos on the ‘While you Wait’ starter section – waiting for what? A heart attack?

We ordered some nice garlic bread which came as a whole pizza and some ‘scooby snacks’ (£5.50) – potato and bacon parcels with parmesan cheese and sriracha hot sauce, rather like pigs in blankets but more filling due to the mash-like consistency.

The nachos were rather disappointing though and lacking the right quantities of toppings. A smear of cheese, a tiny, tiny pot of guacamole and a couple of chillis do not a plate of nachos make. Where were the refried or black beans, sour cream, fresh coriandery salsa? Nachos need to be juicy, fresh and loaded not overcooked and dry. There was a bigger version for £8.50 with pulled pork or meat/veggie chilli, but as I’d ordered the pizza for mains instead, I desisted.

It was a wise move, because having glimpsed the enormous burgers passing out of the kitchen I would never have coped. They are not for the faint hearted.

First up The Dead Elvis (£11) (USA cheese, swiss cheese, fried onion and bacon) which includes a side of your choice, plus all the usual filling of tomato and lettuce. You even get to choose your bun (floured white bap or brioche bun). The Major Tom (£12.50) came with double swiss cheese, mushrooms, sweet chilli sauce, peppadews and Space Raiders (yes the crisps!) and finally a vegetarian Boris Karloff (£12.25) ( with three toppings of our choice which range from the sublime to the ridiculous).

The burgers were splendid to behold, towering on their plates, juice, sauces and cheese oozing down the sides, accompanied by an assortment of hippy fries (garlic and rosemary), sci fries (spicy, Cajun) or skin on, and we tucked in with the best intentions.

This was definitely somewhere to abandon all dignity and get stuck in.

But slowly and surely, the sheer portions and hearty content defeated us, and our over-riding enthusiasm slowly diminished. You need the proportions of a bear and the propensity of a snake who only gets fed once a month to get to the end, but a glorious attempt none-the-less.

No we wouldn’t be having dessert, I attempted to say to our waitress, but only a slur came out. We sent the kids inside to explore, eventually locating them on the Pac-Man machine utterly transfixed.

While Atomic Diner is still fun, dynamic, different, unashamed and out-there, baring it’s teeth at healthy eating, while embracing vegetarians/vegans from day one, it’s now more nostalgic than ground-breaking and, as such, in need of a bit of TLC.

I know exactly how it feels.

Katherine MacAlister