Saturday, July 4, 2009
1530 Dekalb Avenue, Atlanta http://www.radial.us/
I petsit for my friends Kathy and Amy about half a mile from Radial, and I pass the restaurant every time I drive to their wonderful old home near Little 5 Points. I have been curious about Radial for a while but haven't had a chance to drop in until today, when Kyle and I decided to go there for lunch.
Radial is housed in a brick building on Dekalb Avenue. The interior features high ceilings, plain wooden booths will metal chairs and some "interesting" artwork by a presumably local artist. If you like it, you're in luck because it's for sale. The waitstaff is casually dressed and seem relaxed and sufficiently attentive. There is a dining room and an outdoor patio with umbrellas providing some shade. Radial is the kind of place where you can show up in your pyjama pants with your hair wet and your children in their Halloween costumes and no one will think anything about it. It's definitely reflective of the "anything goes" general atmosphere of Little 5 Points.
In honor of Independence Day the restaurant offered several themed specials, and Kyle and I both selected items from this small but interesting menu. He chose the red, white and blueberry pancakes along with a cup of the organic mocha coffee and I chose the Mama's Apple Pie French Toast with the plain organic coffee. As far as coffee goes, I must admit that I never really take notice of this beverage unless it is really good or really bad, and in this case it was neither. (Kyle commented that he thought the mocha coffee was better than Starbucks.) However, I am always happy to see a menu with the words "organic" or "free-trade" included, and Radial's menu has plenty of that. I also noticed that some of the omelettes were made of "cage-free" eggs.
The red, white and blueberry pancakes were composed of very blue blueberry buttermilk pancakes, whipped cream and strawberry syrup. The pancakes themselves were huge, and were a good buy at $7.75. The special French toast was made of challah, and as far as I'm concerned all French toast should only ever be challah or brioche, and cinnamon-syrup coated Granny Smith's apples with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was disappointed that my ice cream was completely melted by the time our waitress brought it to the table, but the flavor of the dish was very good. Again, a good value for under $8. Both selections were standard American comfort foods, great for the occasion.
Although our entrees were affordable enough, our drink prices packed a wallop. A Coke is $1.99. Contrary to the prices shown on the restaurant's website, my coffee was $2.65 and Kyle's mocha was $3.75. Guess all that fair-trade dealing isn't cheap.
If all of this sounds pretty high carb and sugary to you, please be aware that Radial offers many more healthful options. The regular menu features buckwheat pancakes, veggie sausage links, a Vegan hash with marinated tofu and fresh veggies, hummus and salads. I can't comment on any of these dishes though, as Kyle and I chose to exercise our right of freedom to choose decadent, sweet breakfasts today.
My friend Heidi, who lives much nearer to Radial than I and has eaten there fairly regularly, feels that the quality of the food has dropped a notch or two lately, and I wonder if the patriotic menu was a conscious step on the chef's part to raise it back up to its previously good status. I am looking forward to dining here again within the next couple of months and ordering items off the regular menu, at which time I will update this post for a more well-rounded and thorough review.
Verdict: An easy, casual environment for brunch, with good service, a socially-conscious menu with a nice combination of sweet comfort foods and healthful dishes.