The Red Cat and Varietal

Red Cat

Went to the Red Cat for the third time last night, and once again enjoyed it thoroughly. Visiting from D.C. by way of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and an unwelcome delay in Charlotte, my friend Matt and my new friend (and Matt's boss) Jeff met up at the Hudson Hotel to grab a bite to eat and, more importantly, a few glasses of wine. They deserved it after the commuting hell they'd been through.

We started with lobster pierogies with mushrooms as well as the tempura green beans. The green beans were as good as ever but I think the mustard dipping sauce wasn't as hot as it's been in the past. Still good, but I'd like it spicier.

I had a sea bass dish (special) which was excellent. I also tried the skate, which was delicious and served somewhat similar to the traditional grenobloise style (capers, instead of caperberries, brown butter sauce, etc.). Very large portion of skate.

We washed it all down with a light but interesting white Bordeaux called La Rame (2005).


We then went over to Varietal which, in my opinion, is a case of The Emperor's new clothes. Average selection of wine (too warm), questionable design choices and an overall incongruent feel to the place. We enjoyed it though (how hard is it to enjoy wine and intelligent conversation with great people?), especially the wine glass chandelier - it's not as over the top/kitschy as some have suggested - but the stools were more an experiment of style than of function. Not at all comfortable and unsettling in the getting on/off experience.

Sadly, I think this place is doomed. It's been twelve weeks since it opened, there was nobody in the restaurant/bar at midnight on a Thursday night and they just don't seem to have a good handle on what they want to be. Just look at the space (modern, bright white, a little Sunset Strip circa 2005 meets I Dream of Jeanie) and look at the chef Ed Witt (tattoos galore and a CV that includes the refined Il Buco). It's an inconsistent, way-too-juxtaposed concept to survive. Not to mention Ed Witt's insane decision to never serve kobe beef or foie gras based on the treatment of said animals - yet he serves octopus, which I promise you goes through much more painful and traumatic last moments than any duck living on Ariane Daughin's farm.

In any event, a fun night for sure. I think we solved all of the world's problems last night, or at the very least, had a great time.


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