babka eater has a sad story with a happy ending. "Around a year ago, Red Pepper hired a chef who worked in an excellent Sichuan restaurant in a strip mall in Exton, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia). My Chinese in-laws were sad to see him go because the food there has gone downhill. When they visit Labor Day weekend, I hope to make the pilgrimage out there," says babka.
Yay! That fine chef has found a new home, and Red Pepper has found its feet, after being sold by its original owners and going through a brief phase where it was half Brazilian.
Good orders, according to galleygirl, include the mu shu ("A little unorthodox, because it had some shredded pea pods mixed in, but all the real stuff was there"), the fresh and delicious scallion pancakes, fish fillets in chile oil ("lots of fish, lots of flavor, and lots of heat"), and Mongolian beef ("ultrathin slices of well-marinated beef ... perfectly cooked onions and fresh scallions"). She also recommends the fish from the "Pickled Pepper" section of the menu, full of fermented foods: "Nice fish fillet pieces sit fried in a light, not too oily sauce spiked with the peppers, and a little chile oil, or maybe the peppers colored the regular oil, hard to say." It was served "hot as blazes" despite galleygirl's "gaijin status."
Red Pepper [Merrimack Valley]
122 White Street, Haverhill