Saturday, January 12, 2008

HFF Has Lunch: Redd - Yountville, Ca

Tasting menus rock. No choice. Chef’s discretion. It’s liberating, like the formal beauty of an Elizabethan sonnet’s constrictions over the tedium of unrestricted postmodern free verse, or the casual elegance of a porn star that still leaves one hole sacred.

And I don’t mean “tasting menus” where you get to pick from an array of courses, I mean an honest no-choice tasting menu.

It was Chef Scott’s birthday so we were going wine tasting. After a morning in the northern reaches of Napa Valley we worked our way back to Redd in Yountville in the afternoon.

I’d dropped into Redd once before with Charlie where we sat at the bar and had a snack. I was impressed with the space, wine list, and what little food we’d had.

Every review of Redd talks about the “minimalist space” that’s a “perfect canvas” for Richard Reddington’s “art.”

Ejaculate on a sponge and wax Michael Bauer’s Lexus with it. Christ.

Did I mention that good food is good food? And a nice space is a nice space. I guess in a city where Pat Kuleto’s over-adorned pirate handjob adventure restaurant spaces are the standard for “good taste,” the simply designed and minimally adorned Redd would be jarring.

Though Redd does have an a la carte menu we both opted for the four-course tasting menu.

The tasting menu is a comparative steal at $50 ($25 for wine pairings), a value magnified by the fact that each of our two tasting menus were different and there’s enough of each course for sharing.

First round was a raw seafood course of hamachi and yellowfin tuna tartare with chili oil, soy, avocado and crisped rice, and hamachi sashimi with edamame. The fish was impeccable, and while the tartare flavor combination was, well, let’s just say it’s been done before, every flavor was fresh and balanced, never sharp, never harsh, never cloying. The crisped rice added a crucial textural dimension that, in both our minds, made the dish. The hamachi sashimi was as good as any sashimi I’ve had.

Next course featured seared diver scallops and braised skate wing, two of my all time favorite seafoods of all time. The scallops were one of the finer preparations I’ve had and the skate was firm and fluffy, served with a few steamed mussels and bits of chorizo, leaving the whole dish redolent of spiced pork. Flavors infused the entire dish and you sensed all the components’ presence without any individual flavor pushing through. We’re talking synergy in the finest dot-com sense of the word. The one techno-flourish here, the saffron nage (a foamy cloud), actually added an integral flavor and texture dimension. It wasn't just an artsy indulgence.

Meat course: Redd’s signature horseradish-crusted short ribs and roast quail with bacon (there it is again!) The shortribs are justifiably held in high esteem, fork tender and topped with just a bit of fresh shaved horseradish. The quail was moist and tender all the way through, enlivened by the microscopic dice of bacon.

Dessert. A trio of chocolate desserts, a chocolate-hazelnut mousse, a peanut butter honeycomb parfait, and a chocolate-peanut gianduia. Also a trio of citrus desserts, including a mini lemon cheesecake, an orange sorbet, and a mini citrus float with homemade yuzu soda. Pretty fucking cool.

I almost forgot—we deviated from the tasting menu just slightly. We got the trio of cold foie gras. I’m not as big a fan of cold foie gras as I am hot preparations, but… holy fucking shit this was good. The torchon with pistachio was my favorite, though the terrine with pear, and the mousse were also retarded good. Even the toasted brioche wasn't overlooked. It was soft, warm, and slightly sweet.

So Redd was pretty great, a very solid value in the uber fine-dining world, and lived up to its reputation and hype admirably. Just ignore what reviews say about blank slates and artistry on the plate and whatever else. Redd is dining at its simplest and most unassumingly elegant. Roll with it.

6480 Washington St.
Yountville, Ca 94599

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand why this blog is called Horny for Food now.

O_O mmmmm