First Look at Bradley's Fine Diner
Photo by Mai Pham Oak-grilled center cut wagyu ribeye makes a fine main course at Bradley's Fine Diner.
It's clear when you walk into Bradley's Fine Diner, the new concept by James Beard award-winning chef Bradley Ogden, that his team -- helmed by Bryan Ogden, Bradley's son -- know what they are doing. It doesn't matter that the restaurant occupies the corner of an unassuming strip mall just south of Interstate 10. The location relieves some of the pretension that might be associated with a big-name chef like Ogden, so that the focus is on the important things, like food and service.
That's not to say that the space isn't attractive, because it is -- very much so. Though the facade is nondescript, the interior is very much a design space. I loved the blue-gray and yellow palette of the decor, which gave the place a preppy-country feel, and the unique elements that gave it personality, like the chandelier of inverted tree branches in the anterior area of the restaurant. A pale yellow glow from the word "FINE" -- emblazoned on the back wall -- is tasteful rather than distracting, a modern interpretation of the bright red neon signs one might find at an old-school diner.
Photo by Mai Pham The dining room is definitely designer, but it's comfortably casual.
The vibe is upscale casual. Servers wear a loose uniform of plaid shirts. There are no tablecloths. There are standalone tables or booths, a banquette for lounging, and seating for couples and larger groups. An attractive back-lit bar spans the left wall, offering a crafted cocktail list if you want to start the evening with pre-dinner drinks, and an accessible, mostly American wine list by sommelier Rob Ortiz.
And the food -- the most important part -- was good to excellent, starting with their bread service, which came in the form of blue corn grit muffins served with creamy, soft butter. The smallish gray domes were remarkable in flavor and texture. I've been trying to minimize my carb intake lately, and had planned on taking only a bite to taste, but couldn't help finishing off the whole thing, which was very moist and obviously house-made and displayed a pleasant grittiness.
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