Less Than Stellar Moment

Last night we went to Radio Maria to celebrate our anniversary. Radio Maria has been my favorite local restaurant for several years, but last night was not their brightest moment. Earlier this year we enjoyed our first visit to the new tapas bar, but the restaurant side does seem to have suffered. Hopefully it was just an off night, we all have them, but from the comments of other recent visitors I’m afraid it isn’t.

Rather than following the typical seating style of staggering new arrivals throughout the dining area so diners don’t feel packed in, our greeter seemed to be filling the dining room from the front to rear. Although the dining room was somewhat loud, our server spoke so rapidly neither of us could clearly understand him. One of my favorite things about Radio Maria is the variety and the frequently updated menu, but we decided not to order a starter, in part because nothing sounded amazing and our favorite quinoa filled avocados off the menu. Still, we had to wait a very long time for our meal to arrive.

With no crab on the menu this time, I chose the “Grilled Atlantic salmon with a Jamaican jerk rub topped with spicy mango, pineapple, and papaya chutney with plantain tostones” (17.75). My small salmon portion had only the edges fully cooked, the middle remained raw and cool. The Husband wasn’t bothered by that and finished my fish. The plantain had a lot of cracked pepper on top, but lacked the flavorful depth and complement to the main entree I’ve come to expect from a Radio Maria side. The Husband ordered the “Pato Tacos! Seared duck breast served with a fresh gingered plum sauce, julienned vegetables, black beans, jasmine rice, and corn tortillas” ($22). He was quite pleased with his entree.

We decided to have dessert and I chose the Peach, Apricot, and Pistachio Tres Leches Cake, served with a caramel sauce. It was an excellent cake, dense and flavorful. The Husband ordered the pumpkin cheesecake, which was about half the thickness and half the width of a typical cheesecake slice, a scrawny serving for the $6 dessert. I didn’t taste it, but he said it was good.

Overall our visit to Radio Maria was mediocre this time and doesn’t leave me wanting to rush back soon.

/Radio Maria
119 N. Walnut St.
Champaign, IL
217.398.7729

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4 Responses

  1. have you tried luna? we had their tapas, and it was amazing! πŸ™‚ they have a $45/person where it’s the chef’s choice of 8-12 tapas. πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve been hearing that Radio Maria has declined. 😦

    Alice and I have been to Luna only once, I think it was sometime in their first year. We weren’t impressed. I usually give a place a second chance if the first visit was in the first year, but they’re kinda pricey to risk a mediocre meal and they’ve been in the business long enough that they should have been able to hit the ground running.

    But hey, maybe as the tastiness of RM has waned, CL has waxed?

  3. its sad but not surprising to hear about your experience. the general manager of radio maria left a few weeks ago and they havent replaced him nor do they have any plans to do so in the near future. thus the assistant managers are running their own areas. problem is, he was kind of the mastermind.

  4. I haven’t been to Luna yet, although I know Champaign Taste gives it good reviews.

    It’s good to know when a manager leaves because so often, particular in restaurants, a business is defined by the manager. I’d be curious to know where he went . . .

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