L’Atlier chef/owner Radek Cerney is known for experimenting. His menus often feature unusual preparations. His latest experiment, Radex Bistro—formerly known as Full Belly—is a comfortably priced foray into his signature hybrid fare. Dishes are unpretentious yet pleasantly complex, but the overall package still has a few rough edges.
On entering Radex Bistro, we were immediately seated at a table by the large picture windows overlooking the parking lot. Looking around, the décor didn’t seem to all go together. Between the art and the actual space—windows more suited to displaying retail items to the outside than diners on the inside and a low, acoustic-tiled ceiling—Radex Bistro never really evoked the bistro atmosphere to which it seems to aspire.
The service here can be hit or miss—and unfortunately, we had a miss. Our server was prompt and cordial at the beginning of our visit, taking our drink and dinner orders without a problem, but then she disappeared, not returning until long after we had finished our meals. We ordered dessert from someone else. I was doubly disappointed when I overheard another server telling the table next to us about specials we never heard. (We called to speak with a manager about this, but were never able to connect.)
Fortunately, the food itself is very good.
Our first course, a crisp, whole-leaf Caesar salad for my husband and the night’s special salad with blueberries, fresh goat cheese and toasted pecans for me, happily tempted us for our dinners; my baby greens and blueberries put me in mind of spring, and the creamy goat cheese was a pleasant foil for the toasted nuts.
For a main course, my husband ordered the penne gamberetti, a light pasta dish with shrimp and spinach in a fine lemon sauce. Light and simple, the flavors were allowed to dazzle without any one overwhelming the others.
My Radex wienerschnitzel was flavorful and delicious, expertly prepared and dredged with panko breadcrumbs. The meat was tender and extremely flavorful and the breading was delightfully crispy and light. It was served with a side of tartar sauce rather than another, more traditional sauce. I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of tartar sauce in the best of circumstances, and with my veal, it just seemed—ahem—a little fishy. I ignored it in favor of the excellent accompanying potatoes au gratin and roasted green beans and Brussels sprouts.
After waiting a long time to order dessert, our gusto for the meal had waned, and the cranberry apple bread pudding we ordered didn’t impress. I was expecting something different and unusual when the menu mentioned that it was made with French croissants, but in taste and texture it resembled pretty much any other bread pudding I’ve ever had; fine, but hardly revolutionary.
Overall, the food was good enough that I would be willing to give this quirky little bistro a second chance; it seems like a good option for those who don’t want to invest in a meal at L’Atlier. But in order to really shine, Radex Bistro needs to make sure to take the full experience into account.
(formerly Full Belly)
2779 Iris Ave., Boulder
Bottom line: Tasty food, but overall experience needs polish.