Napa: Redd Restaurant
During my day in Napa Valley, I started out with lunch at Morimoto and managed to tour 3 wineries before heading over to Yountville to check out our options for dinner. I had seen there was availability for Redd but we didn’t want to make reservations until I had a look-see at our other potential dining options. Yountville has a main stretch that if you blink, you’ll miss some of the area’s (the country’s? the world’s?) most important restaurants (cough, French Laundry). After hearing the daily menu at Ad Hoc, we headed next door to Redd.
I asked Carina what had she heard about Redd and she admitted truthfully the only thing she heard was it was a cougar hang-out. Oh great. Having recently had a birthday, I didn’t need another reminder I’m much closer to 40 than 21. But the reality is, we were still much younger than most people in the restaurant. Especially since we rolled up at 5 p.m.
We started with the two whiskey cocktails on the list; Thick and Thin (Bulliet bourbon, cranberry, lime, orange simple syrup) and Carina had the Stone Fruit Cooler (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Grand Marnier, peach, mint, bitter lemon soda). I didn’t think much of the cocktail list actually. Our cocktails were okay but nothing to write home about. Then about 30 minutes went by and the kitchen opened. There was a change in shifts and the bar manager came on with a new cocktail list.
I had watched the bar manager carefully separate egg yolks from the whites and portion out the whites into little containers. He said he actually learned that trick from Morimoto. He gives the yolks to the kitchen so there’s no waste. The whites were to be used for sour drinks but in particular a cocktail named the Wild Man after a patron who frequents Redd. I wasn’t quite ready for a sour-type cocktail. I like those frothy things towards the end of my meal so I went with the Money Maker (Makers Mark 46, sweet vermouth, Yellow Chartreuse, Regan’s orange bitters). I had also considered the Casa Nova (spice rum, Amaro Nonino, orange, lime, ginger ale). Carina had Stonewall (209 gin, Berentzen’s apple liquor, Canton ginger, bitter lemon soda). She was slightly disappointed she didn’t get much apple flavor out of it. I was a bit amazed to watch the other bartender free-pour the ingredients for my cocktail.
We got the tasting menu and despite the fact we were inundated with a bunch of menus (bar, 2 cocktail lists, wine, dinner menu), there is no printed tasting menu. For our first course, two raw fish appetizers were sent out- the yellowfin tuna and yellowtail sashimi. Since Carina and I were sharing, we figured the 5-course menu was really more like 10-courses since we were getting different things each course. I really liked both the yellowtail sashimi with seaweed and yellowfin tuna with the avocado and fried rice (more like puffed rice).
The next courses were the carnaroli risotto with Maine lobster and a diver scallop with cauliflower puree. I’ve been on a lobster kick lately and heartily enjoyed the sweet flesh of the Maine lobster. Carina loves savory foods with fruit so this scallop with raisins was a perfect dish to her.
We were now four for four on spot-on dishes and the halibut and skate were also fantastic. I was into the skate with hazelnut brown butter and onion fondue just a tiny bit more but if you like a firm white fish, the Alaskan halibut was great. Also, the corn pudding was delicious.
Our next two courses didn’t seem to be on the regular menu- the squab and pork belly. The squab came with a gnocchi that was pretty much perfect. Normally I really enjoy pork belly but this had a slightly too sweet sauce for me. It had a vaguely Asian flavor profile– and considering I don’t like Chinese BBQ pork, it’s probably no surprise this wasn’t my fave.
I was now ready for the Wild Man (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Benedictine, citrus, egg white, Angostura bitters “mustache”). I joked that the “mustache” really looked more like boobs but I was admonished by the bartender that at least he didn’t put dots on the boobs, I mean mustache…
Then he announced we were getting an extra course (really, 2) because they rarely see anyone getting the tasting menu at the bar. All right! All this bar-stalking was working!
We got some lovely meaty entrees. I couldn’t decide if I liked the lamb or beef more but decided the lamb had my heart with the excellent tapenade. If I ever go back to Redd, I know I will be getting the tasting menu again but maybe I’ll also get the duck confit with the foie gras meatballs and spaetzle. That just sounds amazing to me.
But we are not done yet. Next up, dessert!
Carina went straight towards the wine dessert with figs. While I dove into the doughnut with the banana and ice cream. I can pretty much go for that combo anytime.
Overall, I had a great time at Redd. I was bemused to find a budding craft cocktail list and seafood dishes to rival my fave Providence back in LA. Coincidentally, Chef Richard Reddington of Redd recently cooked in LA at Providence as part of the first LA Food and Wine fest but I couldn’t make it. I would have loved to have had more of his food. Redd was definitely my favorite meal of this SF/Napa trip.