The Red Cat, Aug. 25, 2005

Three years ago, Danna and I got married. Simply stated, an excellent day. Fast forward three years and instead of dancing with relatives and family friends I haven't seen since and getting ready to hop on a plane to Moorea the following morning, we find ourselves at The Red Cat, looking forward to a nice meal to celebrate three successful and often times downright exciting years of marriage and getting ready to use the tickets I got Danna to La Boheme in the Spring.

photo credit to Citysearch

We were pleasantly greeted at the host kiosk by three people. A hostess, the Maitre D' and the sommelier. I had mentioned in my Open Table reservation that we were excited to spend our anniversary with them...and were welcomed with a congratulations by the staff. We were also sat in what I think is probably one of the more favorable places in the house, the back right corner that allows you to see the restaurant, with the exception of the front room, in its entirety. A great spot and was thrilled to have it.

The room itself is nice, but the pseudo-repurposed barn slats (they weren't, put painted and placed with enough space in between each to make it seem that way), kitschy artwork, beautiful Moroccan-style candle holder chandeliers and the hard, lipstick red vinyl benches didn't gel as much as I'd have expected. The biggest factor in this was the vinyl benches. If they were leather, darker in color...perhaps like wine, and beat up a little bit - I think this would have been a better fit - even if it strayed from the "Red" concept.

Fortunately we weren't eating the decor. Instead, we got the following:


Sauteed Potato Pierogies
w/mushrooms, lobster, wine and butter

Pancetta Wrapped Loin of Rabbit
w/favas, cipollinis, cherries, soft herbs and violet mustard

The pierogies were very nice, with the flavor of lobster and mushroom lasting for several moments after each bite. The pierogies were nicely crusted on one side like they do at Rickshaw Dumpling House and cooked perfectly.

The rabbit dish was fantastic. I've had rabbit only once before and I don't really remember it. This, however, was something I will remember. The pancetta adding the right amount of saltiness, the sweet cippolinis doing their job as well and the cherries, adding a great texture to an already fully developed dish. Highly recommended.


Grilled Brook Trout
w/sauteed spaetzle with mushrooms, peas and soft herbs

Cane Sugar Roasted Pork Tenderloin
w/asparagus, chanterelles, baby corn, and sweet pea puree

The trout, with its skin and tail still intact but resting on the plate, came covered in a mound of spaetzle, mushrooms and peas. Moving some of the covering to expose the flesh of the fish, you could see that it was grilled perfectly, still moist but with a nice crispy coating. The trout by itself would be fine, but each bite loaded with a mix of the covering was outstanding.

The pork tenderloin was much better than the version we had at Lupa, but we were both disappointed with the stir-fried style vegetables that accomaded the dish...especially when compared to the success of the trout dish. The vegetables were bland and actually took away from the dish instead of adding to or having no effect on the dish as a whole.

The pork was cooked well and the cane sugar coating was just right (read: not overpowering) but it just didn't wow us at all. I could have made this at home no problem, whereas I doubted my skills at recreating the trout, rabbit and pierogie dishes...which to me is why I enjoy eating out.


Light Tempura of Green Beans
w/sweet hot mustard

Recommended by a fellow Chowhounder, I ordered the tempura of green beans which came out in a huge mound surrounding a steel ramekin of the mustard. They were delicious. Both sweet and salty, like a french fry from heaven, these were addictive. I'm not sure Danna was as impressed but I couldn't get enough of these. Without making a fool/glutton of myself I had to resist anymore. The mustard was excellent and a perfect accompaniment to the beans. In my dream village, the local bar serves this instead of peanuts.


Warm Blueberry Clafouti
w/sauteed blueberries and vanilla ice cream

Banana Cream Pie
w/caramel ice cream and banana fritters

The Banana Cream Pie and the description above and on the menu itself doesn't do justice to what you actually get. This is a banana lovers dream. The blueberry clafouti was also very good but I'm not sure if it held a match to the banana cream pie. Filling, fruity and never enough of it all on the plate. To have this as a breakfast item would be remarkable and would certainly keep you going all day long.


Viognier 2004, Kangarilla Road (Mclaren Vale)

Lovely wine. I shall seek this one out for bottles at home. My friend James, the wine guy, was right. I had a glass of this with my rabbit.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2001, Dei (Tuscany)
This was pretty good. A mild wine, no big flavors or anything and definitely better alone or, presumably, with cheese. It didn't go well with our dishes. However, it was a well-picked wine by the sommelier with what we told him we were looking for. We ordered a half bottle of this.

I like the service we received. Jennifer, I it said on the check, was very good at what she did and left out the "acting" you sometimes get from waitstaff. She was there to take your order, serve you food and accomodate you with options (like wine) if you happened to need them. And she did all of that perfectly well. She accomplished what I think is very important in a waitstaff...she was forgettable. Meaning that she did what she had to do so that you could enjoy your dinner without thinking of anything else.

The room was horribly loud. I don't know if it was the acoustics of the room or the people at the tables, but I could barely hear myself think. It really is unfortunate and makes me question Bruni's comment that this is a place for anyone and any occasion. Parents or grandparents who have trouble hearing will likely hate this place. Perhaps the front room is quieter but don't expect to have an intimate evening in the back. And lastly, a minor gripe for certain...the logo on the matches was very pedestrian. It looked like the work of a first year graphic arts student. Such a minor detail, but for a calling should be a little better than that. But of course it won't deter me from going back.


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