West Hollywood: Red Med at the Formosa
The Formosa, the classic Hollywood hangout, has invited Red Medicine into its kitchen. Red Med at the Formosa is being called a semi-permanent pop-up –defying the definition of a “pop up.” Red Med at the Formosa begins its kitchen residency with some familiar Red Medicine dishes including the banh mi and blue crab spring rolls.
Currently the bar program is managed by Billy Ray and doesn’t reflect any influences from the Red Med popup. At least, not yet. I suggested a pickle back where the “back” was a shot of fish sauce. With Tequila Tapatio 110. I do not recommend this at all. Instead, try any of the drinks on the menu including classics like Mai Tai, Singapore Sling or pick a specialty and have Billy Ray tell you the back story.
Formosa Mai Tai – silver rum, Blackbeard spiced rum, amaretto, pineapple, orange
The rock shrimp aguachile is a lovely dish with a tolerable spice level. For those who really love spicy foods, this would be a mere tinge. But I like that I was able to taste how fresh the avocado was and the prawn chips were a great touch.
I started the evening with the Pisco Apricot Tropicale. It a good choice to go with the food if you’re chowing down like we were.
Pisco Apricot Tropicale – Payet pisco quebranta, apricot brandy, pineapple syrup, lemon, Chinese bitters
The blue crab spring rolls are a staple to any Red Med meal.
Named after a regular, the To Cassie with Love, was my favorite of the evening. Despite my old man hard drinkin’ ways, I was into the strawberry in this drink. It’s tropical without being a stuffed Hawaiian shirt.
To Cassie with Love – Atlantico rum, muddled strawberry and sage, lemon, jasmine 5-spice
If you like piquant food like I do, go for the eggplant. It does come covered up in bright red cabbage and herbs so you may have to do a little digging but being an eggplant fiend, I was happy to do so.
Recently I learned what slings are and a Singapore Sling isn’t actually a sling. Americans started calling every mixed drink a cocktail — which is a bittered sling while the Brits called their drinks slings, even if they weren’t slings. And so the Singapore Sling is a misnamed but still great classic drink.
Singapore Sling – Ford’s gin, Benedictine, Cherry Herring, Cointreau, pineapple, lime, grenadine, Angostura bitters
Being a chicken wings nut, Red Med at the Formosa was hitting all the high notes for me when we got the chicken wings. They were confit and had just enough crispy action to be finger-lickin’ good. Could we get another order, please?
The Grounds for Divorce features the new Liquid Alchemy Company‘s apple spice elixir. Nutty bourbon, apple and citrus is brightened up by mint. It was also very food-friendly and I can see this as my dessert replacement.
Grounds for Divorce – Maker’s Mark bourbon, Liquid Alchemy Company apple spice elixir, mint, lemon, yuzu bitters
A good side dish would be the oyster mushrooms with haricots vert (green beans). But watch out vegetarians, this does contain oyster sauce.
Moving on to the big stuff, there are three dishes meant to be shared between 4 or more people including the Wagyu beef, pork belly and market fish. Pick a protein to get started and you’re awarded with lettuce and all the fixings.
The beef brisket was extremely tender and I found adding just a little bit more herbs went very well in the lettuce wraps.
We had sea bass this night and within seconds, we had reduced it to the bone. I’m not going to say if anyone ate the eyeballs but to quote someone at the table, “it’s the best part!”
Billy Ray named his margarita after “the most beautiful woman” he knew, Senya. He’s infused the Himalayan pink salt into the drink so no need for a salty rim. There’s also a great tequila, Tapatio Tequila blanco and Billy Ray has infused a bit of spice into the orange curacao. It’s savory and spicy all at once.
Senya – Tapatio Tequila blanco, cucumber, Thai chili-infused Cointreau, lime, agave, Himalayan pink salt
For carb lovers, get the banh mi stuffed with pork belly and country pate. The sandwich is lightened up by marinated daikon and carrots. This sandwich is big enough to share. The Shanghai rice cakes are also a great filling choice. The bacon XO sauce was pretty amazing.
I imagine the stars of yesteryear being cool with the Formosa Old Fashioned. It’s intriguing with both the show of melting the rock sugar with a blow torch and the use of the mysterious Chinese bitters. Or if you become a regular, go for a Formosa High Five which is simply a shot of Old Forrester with orange bitters. But you must high five your bartender and slap the bar. It’s a ritual that’s a few months old but feels like it could be bar lore soon.
Formosa Old Fashioned – Old Forester bourbon, rock sugar, Chinese bitters, Angostura bitters, fire
Red Med at the Formosa
7156 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046 — (323) 850-9050
© The Minty 2014