Sunday, January 18, 2009

Setting the bar at the table: The Redhead

So if I'm going to eat dinner in a bar-like restaurant, the photos are going to be terrible. This was true for Red Egg, and it's true (as you can see) for my meal at The Redhead as well. Sorry, but since I just have an ol' point-and-shoot, you'll have to bear with me.

The Redhead—which, unlike Red Egg, really was only a bar first—has gotten some press lately, most recently in a New York Times roundup of the year's notable restaurants with "great eating at contained prices," and just before that in an article titled "Great Meals for Two, Under $100 (It’s Possible)." While looking for a hip yet comfortable place to catch up with some girlfriends (without breaking the bank), it seemed like the perfect spot to meet.
And it was, for our purposes. MB had already eaten though BH and I hadn't, but since we snagged a table in the front bar area, it wasn't awkward for two to eat and one only to drink. And all of us were down to nibble on the bacon-peanut brittle, which was the perfect alcohol accompaniment: a little smoky, plenty salty and nutty, and just sweet.
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For our dinner, BH and I decided to share two of the starters and a plate of their buttermilk fried chicken. Above on the right is the cider-braised fall squash paired with pieces of pork belly and candied pecans; on the left is the sunchoke and sweet potato salad, which included crunchy hazelnut halves, slices of pear, goat cheese, and a smattering of watercress. Both were well done, and the two plates disappeared lickety-split.

(It's funny, because I had no idea what a sunchoke was, and then I put a piece of the tuber into my mouth and realized that I was eating the same thing my parents grow in their garden and had never known the name of. A friend of theirs had actually once told them it was some kind of peasant rubbish vegetable from China, but boy was she wrong. They were pretty tickled when I came home with my newfound wisdom.)
The fried chicken came with a piece of moist, nubby cornbread and a salad of frisee, baby spinach, apples, and candied walnuts, all of which came together harmoniously. The chicken was juicy and moist within, and the crackling outside skin was salty and crisp and full of flavor. I thought it was pretty great, and BH ended up declaring it one of the best pieces of fried chicken she'd ever had.

After the plates were cleared we continued to linger with glasses of wine. We ended up spending several hours at The Redhead in total, and by the time the sweet chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies (top of post) arrived gratis with our check, it was just as if we'd gone out to dinner and then to a bar for drinks afterward, all without us ever having to leave the table. Especially since it was such a cold night, that was a decidedly welcome aspect of dining at The Redhead.

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