Porthos | Feb 12, 200610:30 PM     2

Just returned from a beautiful weekend in Napa. Though I’m still working on those elusive FL reservations, I was able to secure a reservation at Redd. It ranks as one of the most pleasant and well executed meals I’ve had since moving to the bay area a year and a half ago.

The space is a little modern/minimalist but certainly not cold. We arrived at 6:30 and despite being 15 minutes late, we were promptly seated with a smile. Our waitress was amazing. She was eager to answer any questions and even offered to write down the wine pairings so we could compare afterwards.

We decided to go with the 5 course tasting with wine paring at $100. I was a little hesitant because there were a couple of appetizers I wanted to try but my curiosity got the best of me.

First course:

Sashimi of Hamachi with edamame, cucumber, sticky rice, and lime ginger sauce paired with a Wakutake daiginjo sake

Yellowfin tuna with beets, radish, and lemon oil paired with a 2004 Josef Rosch Mosul Riesling.

The hamachi was amazing. I know the sashimi as a first course may be passé but this will awaken even the most jaded taste-buds. The sauce was very savory and the hamachi was deliciously fresh. The sake was fragrant and sweet but I prefer the Hoyo "Kura no hana" which I think has more flavor.

The yellowfin tuna with beets was pretty to look at but wasn’t exactly eye-opening…until I took a sip of the riesling. The riesling was very sweet and I suspect you could down a bottle alone but it also brought out the sweetness and the essence of the beets. They should just serve the two together and make it illegal for you to order the tuna without the riesling.

Second course:

Black cod with butternut squash ravioli and root vegetables paired with a 2004 Lewis Napa Chardonnay.

Caramelized diver scallops, cauliflower puree, almonds, balsamic reduction paired with a 2004 Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc.

The black cod was not on the menu and was made to accommodate my dining companion’s shellfish allergy. The cod was rich and luxurious as black cod always is and the butternut squash ravioli was even more rich and luxurious.
The diver scallops were perfectly cooked and the cauiflower with raisins were enough to keep me from dozing off from the boredom of having scallops. I find seared scallops to be the “molten chocolate cake” of appetizers. In this case, I definitely wished I had received the risotto with lobster, lemon confit, and truffle oil instead. Pairing was good but no revelations.

Third course:

Wolfe ranch quail with smoked ham, warm lentil vinaigrette paired with a 2003 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir.

Glazed pork belly, fennel puree, burdock, soy caramel paired with a 2003 Chateau La Roque Languedoc Pic St Loup.

The quail was excellent. It was like the best fried chicken ever. Savory, crisp, juicy, and wonderfully tender. The smoked ham and lentils were a nice compliment.

I was ecstatic when they set the glazed pork belly in front of me. This was one of the reasons why I hesitated on the getting the tasting. I really to try this and I’m glad they were able to read my mind. The pork belly was crispy, almost like it was fried, and amazingly tender. The caramel soy glaze was perfect. Yes the dish was drop-dead rich but there were only 3 slices and the lightly dressed frisee prevented the dish from becoming cloying. The wine was a blend of grapes including syrah and grenache was perfect for the dish echoing the spices in the soy caramel glaze.

Fourth course:

Lamb chops and loin with black trumpets, chanterelles, potato gnocchi and olive tapenade paired with a 2003 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf Du Pape.

Prime New York beef, “creamy spinach”, fingerling potatoes, short rib jus

I tend to be unimpressed by most meat entrees…The Dining Room at the Ritz, Chez Panisse, and even Daniel in NYC…it’s hard to be wowed by meat entrees. Both were good. The Chateauneuf Du Pape was excellent with the olive tapenade though. The beef was actually the standard beef two ways, 2 slices of prime rib and 2 slices of short rib. The short ribs were decadently rich and tender. They forgot to write down the wine pairing but again, no epiphanies.


Panna cotta with grapefruit, mint, and raspberry sorbet paired with a Dr Loosen Blueslate Eiswein

Warm chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream, biscotti, and chocolate dusted pistachios paired with a 10 year old Nieport tawny port.
The Panna cotta was refreshing, and the warm chocolate pudding was playful (cup of pudding served with the ice cream on a spoon so you could swirl them together). The Eiswein was also very good and another one of those white wines that you could drink alone (this coming from someone who prefers red bordeaux). However, we had noticed another dessert that everyone seemed to be ordering and enjoying. We asked our waitress and she told us that it was the warm caramelized banana and coconut cake. Clearly this was a must have and we ordered the extra dessert as overkill. It was amazing and much better than the two desserts that were provided with the tasting.

I liked the fact that they made the effort to provide 2 separate tastings instead of just giving everyone the same dish. I like the wine pairing and the fact that they seemed to tailor it to taste. And I also liked the fact that they were able to read my mind on the pork belly. Until I get those FL reservations, I think I’ll be pretty happy with Redd.

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