Friday, January 20, 2012


So now that I've got the whole 24 Roast Chickens cram session out of the way, let's revisit that ole Napa trip I took back in what...September? Yikes. Looks like I've still got some serious catching up to do.

Set up along a stretch of road familiar to anyone who's had the opportunity to make it out to Yountville, CA, Redd features incredible, focused dishes in a visually fancy, yet entirely casual setting, at least at lunch. Unthreatened by the likes of The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Ad Hoc, Redd soaks up a morning of wine tastings with a healthy mix of bright and hearty small plates. Asian flavors were surprisingly prominent, and every single meat was prepared to perfection. In addition to all the great food, service was stellar. The whole package made their Michelin star appear unjustly lonely.

Eating at Redd with a party of six was a dream. We were able to tackle a good chunk of the menu and I left feeling like I hadn't missed out on too much of the other stuff.

First up was the Crispy Calimari, Cayenne Salt, Tamarind Sauce, and Vietnamese Dressing. The calimari was perfectly crispy with just the right amount of saltiness and kick. The tamarind sauce played off of a fish sauce and hoisin-flavored dressing extremely well. I have to say, I'd love to see more places preparing calimari with delicately devised Asian seasonings and Asian-inspired sauces.

The Simple Forni Brown Green Salad, Warm Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts, and Sherry Vinaigrette was to die for. The star of this salad was definitely the goat cheese. Baked to adopt a slightly crispy shell, the cheese came off sweeter and less sharp than your typical goat cheese. The slightly bitter greens were straightforward and simple, but the hazelnuts and tart vinaigrette added an awesomely nutty and acidic flavor to the hefty portion of goat cheese.

Our second salad was a Smoked Trout Salad, Beets, Lemon Vinaigrette, and Horseradish Creme Fraiche. The smoked trout was rich, smokey, and refreshingly briny. Though I probably could have lived off of the trout alone for the next ten minutes, I was pleasantly surprised by the ability of the beets to ground the dish, the lemon vinaigrette to bring some needed acidity, and the creamy horseradish shavings to bring in that perfect punch. The accompanying bread was unnecessary, but that didn't stop the other people at the table from indulging in a a self-constructed crostini.

According to Yelp, we weren't allowed to leave Redd without trying the Glazed Pork Belly, Apple Puree, Burdock, and Soy Caramel. And I'm glad we didn't. This thick cut of deliciously sweet pork belly is, by itself, overwhelming at first, but the tart puree, julienned burdock, and bitter frisee find a way to reign in the richness of this dish without sacrificing any of the central, porky, fatty flavors of this dish. Above everything else, the soy caramel does something particularly special. Like a well choreographed dance, the pork and bitter caramel quickstep past your tongue, leaving mere imprints and impressions, finding their way deep into the recesses of your belly.

Our first larger small plate were the Steamed Pork Buns, Hoisin, and Vegetable Salad. This was probably the weakest dish of the meal. Though I appreciated the housemade efforts to create a tribute to the ubiquitous pork bun, Redd fell a little bit short with its stringy pork, doughy bun, demandingly salty and sweet hoisin sauce, and underwhelming and basic Asian salad.

But let bygones be bygones. The next dish was outrageously delicious. The Caramelized Diver Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Almonds, and Balsamic Reduction lived up to all of its hype.

The scallops were perfectly cooked, with a tough sear and a delicate interior. The seasoning was exact--not a touch too salty and not a centimeter too bland. The overwhelming flurry of almonds topped on cauliflower puree added an earthiness and nuttiness to the dish. The balsamic brought everything together with a unifying sweetness and tartness.

Our last main was the Braised Beef Short Rib, Bacon, Cipollini Onions, Fingerling Potatoes, and Red Wine Jus.

Ho. Lee. Ish. I mean, everything I'd had to this point had been unbelievably delicious, but this was another level of tongue smacking the upside of your head. Maybe it was the sous vide short rib. Maybe it was the surprisingly subtle integration of bacon. Or the insanely sweet cipollini onions. Or the melt-in-your-mouth fingerling potatoes with that perfectly sweet jus. Whether it was one or three or all eighty of those things, LOOKATTHATSHORTRIB.

To calm things down a bit after an amazing lunch, we sipped on a delicious bowl of Summer Berry Sorbets, Lime Granite, and Graham Streusel. Great texture, just the right amount of sweetness, and a right acidity from the lime granite. Strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry. How did they know how much I love strawberry and raspberry? And blackberry? And blueberry? And huckleberry??? Alright, fine, they didn't do all of those, but lordie, I love summer berries.

Unfortunately, the respite from the heavy short rib only lasted through the sorbet course. Our last course consisted of Chocolate, Peanut Butter Beignets, Bitter Caramel Ice Cream, and Bananas. Basically, awesome sweetness arranged to dig up nostalgic flavors of candy bars, banana split sundaes, and carnivals. In true tribute to those nostalgic flavors, this dessert was undeniably sugary and indulgent.

So I took a single bite and relived a slew of childlike flavors. Basically one of the best sundaes I've ever eaten. Just make sure to share this dessert with plenty of people. More than one bite can leave you in a stupor akin to post-Halloween sugar hangovers.

Roses are Redd, violets are blue, some really great grub, I hope you go too.

Sorry, I just had to.

6480 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2222

GET: Simple Forni Brown Green Salad, Warm Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts, and Sherry Vinaigrette; Glazed Pork Belly, Apple Puree, Burdock, and Soy Caramel; Caramelized Diver Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Almonds, and Balsamic Reduction; Braised Beef Short Rib, Bacon, Cipollini Onions, Fingerling Potatoes, and Red Wine Jus; Chocolate, Peanut Butter Beignets, Bitter Caramel Ice Cream, and Bananas.

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