Bradley’s Fine Diner is the second of three local concepts from California-based celebrity chef Bradley Ogden. It opened just south of the Heights in March and shares a strip center with the Funky Chicken, his fast-casual concept dedicated to fried chicken, a concept with which I have been thoroughly nonplussed with over the course of several visits. I, however, have taken a shine to Bradley’s Fine Diner or BFD, as is most prominently displayed on its signage.
Bradley’s Fine Diner might be described as a fine dining restaurant with a very approachable bent serving quality American fare. And, it is American, not Houstonian nor southeast Texan. Bradley’s Fine Diner has a menu that would not be out of place in almost anywhere in the country. Though a few items sport regional designations – such as the Maryland Blue Crab Cake, Spring Vegetable Carolina Rice – its offerings could even serve as a model menu for an “American” restaurant overseas. Steaks, a pork chop, Caesar salad, grilled asparagus, roasted beet salad, pan-roasted red snapper, a grilled burger; there is something for nearly everyone, maybe especially those with a meat-and-potatoes mien. The wine list, very unusually these days, also takes an all-American approach. According the wine director, with whom I talked with during a media event, they are attempting to highlight the more balanced and food-friendly wines from California, Washington and Oregon, less of the big, fruit-centric versions.
A few of those wines worked well enough during the media dinner I attended in April (much better than the cocktails or the oddly chosen draft beers – no Karbach or Saint Arnold? – at the bar beforehand). That dinner, overall, featuring excellent ingredients, obviously well-honed technique and great sense for creating flavors and textures was terrific, though some of the more interesting items we enjoyed like a cold pea soup, frog’s legs, of version of pierogies, a black cod preparation and scallops served in their shells are no longer on the menu. I was happy to learn that Bradley’s Fine Diner is open for lunch and offers affordable options.
Including the daily blue plate special, there are eight items priced between $13 and $17 on the lunch menu, hot sandwiches plus salads that can be buttressed with a choice of proteins. These items are joined by a couple of steaks and swordfish that are in the $20s along with several starters and about a half-dozen sides. The blue plate special on Monday was an excellent meatloaf sandwich and fries, well worth the $12.95 price tag. The thick meatloaf slice was specked with bits of red pepper and seemed to have been well-dressed with a tomato sauce well before serving. Soft and flavorful, it was topped with thick pieces of crispy bacon and very thin strands of fried onions. The textural contrast and flavor of the onions and bacons made a nice complement to the soft meatloaf and equally soft fresh bun. The very crisp and perfectly seasoned fries were almost as enjoyable. It made for an excellent daytime meal. That meatloaf sandwich seemed to find its way on many of the other diners during a languid Monday lunch service that certainly quite civilized and enjoyable.
The meatloaf sandwich seems to be the blue plate special each Monday. Meatloaf itself is served on another day and a version of Philly cheesesteak on third. My affable waiter did not really know what else was served for the other days. If Monday’s meatloaf sandwich was any indication, the other days’ blue plate specials might be very rewarding, too, whatever those preparations might be. I am also sure to try a few dishes on the regular lunch menu like the fish and chips and oak-grilled burger with caramelized onions on future visits. The restaurant seems to be a certain winner both at dinner and lunch.
Bradley’s Fine Diner
191 Heights (south of I-10), 77007, (832) 831-5939