Full Belly Doesn't Live Up To Expectations

March 27 2009, 11:28 AM
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