Burlington welcomes radius to its downtown culinary community, a restaurant that defines itself as “urban casual” and prides itself on delivering a unique vibe dining experience, exceptional service, and a menu that blends upscale and approachable cuisine.
Written By Rebecca Dumais • Photos By Amare Studios • Florals By Fairway Florals
The Burlington location, the second under the radius hospitality brand, is led by Managing Partners Chelsea Ladd and Matt Bidwell, but prides itself on being a family-driven enterprise, a family that includes all their team members. The Hamilton location is on Hess Street South. Matt, a key figure in radius Hamilton’s success for over a decade, has been instrumental in shaping the restaurant’s identity.
Chelsea’s background in sales and marketing, and as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, rounds out the team. Their collective passion for people, the team, guests, partners, and the community fuels the restaurant’s success. Chelsea and Matt are also partners with Lisa Mercanti-Ladd, Ian Ladd, Dan Trevisani and Peter Chavez.
Choosing to locate in Downtown Burlington may not have been part of their master plan, as Lisa explains that they’re very entrepreneurial in their thinking and actions, yet they always loved Brant Street. “The radius brand just fits perfectly amongst all of the other special brands on this street. When we saw that this opportunity was available, we acted fast, and when our leadership team walked into the location, we instantly felt that it was the right fit for radius. We love the exposed brick and the large bar.” Chelsea also adds that since Burlington is a neighbouring community to Hamilton, “it was the right time and right place.”
To describe the restaurant to those unfamiliar, it’s a commitment to moody, bold, and beautiful “vibe dining,” which captures an “inviting, upbeat atmosphere and amazing service. We love local and want to celebrate all the greatness in food, wine, spirits, art and entertainment within our radius,” Chelsea says. “We love over-the-top deliciousness and remarkability, combined with traditional, yet humble authenticity. We’re a blend of upscale and approachable. We care deeply about our people, our team, our guests, our partners and our community.”
That passion for food and hospitality stems from a love of travel and exploration. Inspired by their international roots, which encompass Italian, Portuguese, English, German, Ukrainian and Latin American influences, they aim to celebrate diverse culinary traditions. The team at radius is dedicated to bringing inspiration from their travels back to the Hamilton and Burlington communities. “We all love to travel and research and learn from others but bring that inspiration back to the communities we love,” Chelsea says. “Our family of staff just loves food, cocktails, wine and hospitality in general. Sometimes we like traditional items, giving them a radius spin or bringing a few added elements to it.”
Executive Chef Daniel Burcher, with over 20 years of culinary experience, leads the kitchens, focusing on innovation and excellence. Newly promoted from the Hess location is Portuguese-born Chef de Cuisine Jorge Rocha, who brings a passion for global influences and local produce. Jorge is leading the operation in Burlington and credits his love for food and travel as inspired in part by his mother and grandmother. “Their goal is to create a brand known for trust and inclusivity, fostering growth and an uplifting atmosphere,” Dan notes.
Part of their mandate is to support local businesses and engage with local farms, from sourcing farm-fresh eggs and locally baked goods to seasonal vegetables to create beautiful, delicious food each day. The eclectic and inclusive menu is carefully curated with input from the diverse team. Menu changes occur seasonally to meet and exceed guest expectations. Steaks are all Canadian beef, and always fresh, never frozen.
According to Chelsea, the top three signature menu items are the handmade in-house Goat Cheese Spring Rolls, Stacked Sushi and Korean Braised Short Rib. The spring rolls are by far the No. 1 guest favourite and are served with a signature red wine and onion jam. “We challenged our chefs to come up with another item that guests love even more than our Goat Cheese Spring Rolls,” Lisa says. “Jorge came up with our Stacked Sushi, which we do with salmon, crispy rice, unagi sauce, spicy mayo, tobiko, and we can also make vegan with watermelon sashimi.”
The much-praised Korean Braised Short Rib is one of radius’ key dishes. “Our chefs took it off for a season but too many guests complained, so it always ends up on the menu,” she says. Chelsea’s favourite radius By Day menu items include the Poke Bowl and the new Winter Persimmon salad, for which the recipe is shared in this publication.
There are two young pastry chefs on staff, Jessica and Selena, who work out of the Hess location. They also recently established their own small business called the Cake Kitchen Company. “Our desserts are simply delicious,” Lisa says. “Our Salted Caramel Cheesecake is so decadent and rich, and our Chocolate Heaven brownie bar is equally delicious, but gluten-free and dairy-free.”
For a unique beverage, consider Mr. Roboto and Forever Young, each with its distinctive story and flavour profile. “Mr. Roboto is a true favourite at radius,” Chelsea explains. “Inspired by our bar manager in Hess, Matt Lee’s recent trip to South East Asia, it includes rye, peach soju, jasmine tea, shiso, and lemon.” Forever Young was created by Brant Street bar manager Avery and consists of Cîroc peach, St-Germain, lemon, wild berries and Prosecco. “One of our mantras at radius is to stay forever young, challenging the status quo.”
The restaurant’s vibe evolves from lunch to dinner and evening/nightlife. Weekly events, such as Wine + Music Wednesdays with local artists and Vibe Thursdays cater to different preferences. When the weekend hits, it’s time for After Dark Fridays and Saturdays, then a sit-down to Sunday Supper. Experience and special event information is posted on their website.
The By Day menu contributes $1 for every food item sold to support local community organizations. “Charitable giving is integral to radius’ mission,” Chelsea states. In Hamilton, the restaurant supports the local hospitals, YWCA, Bob Kemp Hospice, Charity of Hope and Cancer Assist, while in Halton, they recently supported Food 4 Kids-Halton, Halton Food for Thought and are always there to help others.
radius has joined Taste of Burlington Winter 2024, which runs a fixed-price menu from January 29 to February 11. During Love Month in February, radius will feature special menu items and cocktails.
With the restaurant seating at a cozy capacity of 80 and 14 at the bar, there’s lots to love about radius.