When my beet and watermelon salad appeared in the form of a single, long cube of watermelon with a generous amount of perfectly cooked beets and beautiful slivers of rainbow radishes tumbled on top, I couldn’t figure out why Bradley’s Fine Diner was so empty on a Friday night.
Actually, I was puzzled as to why the year-and-a-half old restaurant wasn’t more full from the moment I walked in the door—the sleek open room with quirky touches like a tree branch-like chandelier and arrays of naked lightbulbs over plaid-patterned booths manages to evoke a true reflection of a traditional diner turned finer dining. It’s a gorgeous space.
This stunning opener—which came with a swoosh of crushed pistachio, grapefruit segments and frisee—seemed a worthy contender against salads from some of the more touted restaurants in the city. So did the thickly breaded oysters nestled in ruffly bibb lettuce cups (using the same batter as Funky Chicken—owned by the same group—down the street) accompanied by an apple tartar sauce. So did the incredibly moist cut of smoked salmon laid atop a bed of cilantro lime rice pilaf.
Okay, if we’re getting technical, I would have preferred a lighter hand dressing the small pile of frisee fanned over the watermelon salad and an omission of the beautiful, but bitter rainbow radish shavings that were jarring against the sweetness of the rest of the salad. While salmon was perhaps one of the simplest, most delicious renditions I’ve had of late, it left the rice pilaf to pale in unremarkable comparison. The brussels sprouts, which were undeniably tasty, swam in an excess of grease.
Still, the service is extraordinarily warm and the ambiance undeniably lovely—a great spot for a date or a night out with friends. My complaints about the food are minimal, which leads me to suspect that perhaps it is the location—with potential diners already saturated by a plethora of other options—or the elevated price range—appetizers range from $8-$19 and entrees range from $14-$34—that resulted in the semi-empty dining room. Or perhaps it was the impending storm and bad weather that kept patrons away the particular night I visited. Either way, I’ll be doing my part to fill up their seats in the future.