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Full Belly Doesn’t Live Up To Expectations

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When I visited Full Belly, Radek Cerny’s month-old Boulder restaurant, I expected to find a mini L’Atelier. I hoped to crack the lunch menu and find iconic Cerny dishes, along the lines of his Thai-inspired moules rustica and coriander-flavored gamberetti Asiatique. Instead, there wasn’t a single item I felt like eating.

Sure, the pork yellow curry sounded tasty, as did the wienerschnitzel, but I didn’t see anything that made me feel like I was in a Cerny restaurant. L’Atelier’s dishes (and Papillon’s and Radex’s, before that) always have flair, a creative and artistic touch that makes the food–and the dining experience–thrilling. Full Belly didn’t have that.

Granted, the new restaurant is Cerny’s answer to the economy: bistro food at affordable prices. And while I can respect that (the average lunch dish hovers between $8 and $12), I still crave the quirky and inventive food on which this chef has made his name. That day at lunch, I finally settled on the soup of the day–a velvety tomato bisque–and the grilled ham and cheese on country bread.

Lunch was fine, but other than enormous portions and excellent service, it was unremarkable. And that’s something I never thought I’d say about a Radek Cerny establishment.

Before leaving, I did scan the breakfast and dinner menus, both of which had more inspired dishes: peanut butter-and-jelly pancakes in the a.m. and lamb shank “forever braised in root vegetables and beans” in the p.m. Perhaps I just picked the wrong meal to try Full Belly.

2779 Iris Ave., Boulder, 720-242-6266

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