Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Radial Café

I owe a payoff from our exploratory journeys to Radial Café for brunch. This sprang from a spirited discussion here at C.K.H.W. and the wife’s place about brunch spots in the ‘hood (consensus is that Heaving Bowl now officially sucks; Good News is good unless you’ve suffered food poisoning there.)

So in those discussions, Woodhill Will threw Radial out as one of his favorite spots for eggs and whatnot. Thus the wife and I arranged brunches with Char-lez and Grant Park Tony over a couple of weekends.

Overall I give the place about a 7 out of 10. The eggs are passable, and they seem to do a good job with interesting pancakes (on our second visit the wife got a pumpkin pancake special that was damn good).

But there are a couple of things about Radial that will keep me from making it a regular spot.

First, there’s way too much of a vegan / hippie vibe. My first hint was the menu item “Vegan Biscuits and Gravy.” They make gravy out of rosemary and fennel instead of good old pork sausage. That’s fine, I suppose, but I’ve found that most places that go out of their way to make vegans happy tend to give the shaft to those among us who prefer to eat animals. Which leads into my next point ….

Second, you’d think the place bought just one pig to serve a year’s worth of brunches. On our first trip, the side of bacon that came with my breakfast included two little shriveled bacon shards that wouldn’t have made up a half-piece of proper bacon. Same with the side of bacon Char-lez got on the second trip. The second time around I got sausage as a side. That choice entitled me to one entire quarter-inch-thick sausage patty. Thanks!

Also on the second trip, the wife and I both got their “special” grits dish – Bacon and Cheese Grits. Sounded good, as we enjoy making yummy cheese grits at home. This “special”, however, consisted of a regular bowl of grits with a tablespoon of bacon bits and a slice of American cheese sitting on top of it. That was a big waste of $2.50 each.

So given Radial’s stinginess in the pork department, the abundance of hippies floating around the place, the huge grits disappointment and the fact that they have a really cute waitress but gave us the less-than-cute one both times, it’s not becoming a regular stop.

It’s not going on the banned list (Heaving Bowl at all times, Ria’s on the weekends), and I’d join folks for brunch there if they asked. But it’s not becoming the regular place, either.

Still searching for brunch happiness …

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