Posted August, 2006
A Diner’s Journal
Redd Restaurant - Yountville
Redd Restaurant was destined for greatness. Chef/owner, Richard Reddington, is one of Napa Valley’s favorites – respected and loved for his innovation, incredible culinary talents and for being a really nice guy. Plus the lengthy transformation of this Yountville space from the old Piatti to the sleek and urbane new Redd was highly visible and much-discussed. So by the time the restaurant opened last October, the buzz was out and expectations were running high.
Generally, Redd has met – and often exceeded – these high expectations. The food is first-class. The menu changes seasonally and ingredients are not only fresh but presented in beautiful and imaginative ways. The asparagus salad with sweetbreads ($11) which graced the spring menu was one of our favorite dishes of all time. Since asparagus poses a challenge for red wine drinkers, sommelier Chris Blanchard has been taking us through some of the incredible Rieslings on Redd’s excellent wine list. Fortunately, that wine is also a wonderful pairing with my other two favorite appetizers, the incredible tuna tartare ($13) and the luscious sashimi of hamachi ($14), both of which are usually available in any season. When we limit our wine drinking to reds, we usually start with the glazed pork belly ($12), the soup (currently corn chowder at $12) or a seasonal salad (around $11).
Entrées are wonderful, too. Diners swoon over the carmelized diver scallops with cauliflower purée, almond and a balsamic reduction (which can be ordered as an appetizer for $14 or an entrée for $27), but the monkfish “saltimbocca” ($25), the prime NY beef ($28) and even the roasted chicken ($23) are sure-fire hits as well. And if you happen to dine on an evening when the “specials” include the veal meatballs, you are in for a special treat. The meatballs burst with flavor yet manage to be light at the same time. I don’t know how Richard Reddington manages to do this, but he does it very well.
There are also 5- and 9-course tasting menus ($70 & $105, respectively) which can be served with wine pairings ($100 for the 5-course, and $160 for the 9-course). These tasting menus change daily and provide an excellent opportunity to sample the chef’s range and the sommelier’s excellent talent at wine and food pairing.
The wine list at Redd also deserves a special mention. Not only is it well-chosen both for its breadth and pairing with the cuisine, but the there is a wide range of styles and prices. At lunch when the weather is hot and I’m looking for something light, it is wonderful to find not one – but two excellent local rosés for under $35 per bottle. And this is one restaurant where I never hesitate to ask for suggestions on wine pairing. Sommelier Chris Blanchard is terrific. He really knows both his wines and the foods being served. He has often made suggestions we would not have tried and we are always delighted with his picks. It’s so nice when the sommelier is really excited and knowledgeable about pairings.
Redd is an ambitious undertaking, serving dinner every night, lunch Monday through Saturday and Sunday brunch. There is also a lively bar area and outdoor dining in the summer months. The lunch menu has many of the same dishes as the dinner menu but there are more salads and lighter entrees and fewer meat dishes. I especially enjoy the lettuce cups with stir-fry chicken chicken in chili oil ($12) which is not offered on the dinner menu. And the Sunday brunch menu has some wonderful dishes including a yummy breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs, prosciutto, and crème fraiche ($14). There is a limited bar menu which features snacks such as chicken wings and pizza. I noticed that the bar menu as a children’s menu. Actually, that’s how I first discovered the bar menu. A friend’s son was having difficulty making a choice until our lovely server quietly slipped him a bar menu. We were all a bit jealous when his pizza arrived. It smelled terrific.
6480 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599