Sarah and I were invited to a new menu tasting at the Reddstone–the home of the former Snicker’s Tavern–along with a number of other food bloggers. We all loved the food (even Jonathan) and are eager to return.
We asked in advance if it was okay to bring Jonathan, and we were told it would be fine. We didn’t know, though, that doing so would put us two tables away from all of the other invitees, whom we were eager to meet. We missed hanging out with Nancy, Tom, Katrina and Allison (and probably someone I’m forgetting). If Reddstone had told us we’d be alone at a table we would have gotten a sitter.
Our first course was Rare Salmon Lettuce Rolls, which we really enjoyed. They were fresh, light and tasty, making them the perfect summer food. J tried them, but this was the only dish he wasn’t crazy about.
The next course was BBQ’d Duck Confit Sliders. We all loved these, despite Sarah’s frequently proclaimed dislike for duck and J’s never having tried it. The barbecue sauce was sweet but complex, and the Polblano Crème Fraiche added another good layer of flavor.
It’s worth noting that the chef, Josh Kabat, who talked to us a couple times about the food, previously worked at Lola. He was very down to earth and friendly, and his culinary skills clearly shone through in his dishes.
The third course was the All American Burger with sirloin, American cheese, pickles and a “Special Sauce” that seemed like a mayo / ketchup combination. This was another great dish, and, despite wanting to save some appetite, I kind of wished for more than 1/4 burger. Sarah and I don’t usually like American cheese, but this was deli-style rather than prepackaged and very flavorful.
We also got a basket of fries with this course, cut shoestring-style and fresh fried with a hint of rosemary. We didn’t get a shot of these, but pictured above the burger Jonathan ordered, which came with plenty of them. The fries were so good that we had to push them away to the corner of the table to make sure we had room for the remaining courses.
The fourth course was shrimp & soba noodles, which was once again an all-around hit. The peanut sauce was especially good. While some versions taste like tweaked peanut butter, this one had a lot of subtlety and complexity with only a mild peanut taste. The shrimp were also well-cooked.
Our final dish was the Braised 5 Spiced Short Ribs (Anyone seeing an Asian motif?) We all enjoyed these as well, although other tables complained of over-salting. We didn’t notice this. Maybe ours were less salty, or we have a higher tolerance, or maybe it was that we had fewer salted fries and didn’t reach our “salt limit” (other tables seemed to eat more of them). My only complaint on this dish was that the Kim Chee in the potato latke didn’t really come through–there was just a slight cabbage element. Sarah and Jonathan, who don’t like Kim Chee, had absolutely no problem with this.
On the whole we loved our visit–the dishes were 5/5–and will definitely return. The patio was beautiful and a great place to eat in the summer. There are some peculiarities of this establishment, however.
First, their website is horrible. The “music” is irritating, the colors are painful and the layout is clunky. We’ve considered visiting before, checked the website, and then decided not to visit. The cheesy mirrored sunglasses at the top and the appeal to the club scene are reminiscent of the Flats in the 1990s. Is this really something Reddstone wants to reference? They also market themselves as having bargain-price bar food (e.g. “wing night” and “taco night”) both on in-store signage and on the site, which is a total disservice to Kabat’s cooking. The prices are indeed reasonable, but the bargain basement promotions might lead people to think “you get what you pay for.” They also are not great on site updates–their calendar for June and July is empty, and there’s no mention of the menu change including the above items which supposedly started yesterday. And while the food at our tasting was free, the beer was $5 / 12 oz. plastic cup which is a bit steep, especially considering their poor selection: Pyramid Haywire Wheat (which is admittedly good) is the only import/microbrew. They also don’t have a beer / drink menu.
The service was friendly and attentive. Our food for the tasting took awhile (25 minutes / course), but Jonathan’s separately ordered burger (which he enjoyed) came out quickly, which bodes well for overall service time.
Reddstone has outstanding food, good prices, and one of the best summer patios in Cleveland. They can continue marketing themselves as a party bar with cheap food if they’d like, but downplaying their strengths–great food, notable chef, beautiful patio, family-friendly fare–doesn’t strike us as a great decision.