Cuisine: American/Californian/West Coast/European/Euro-Asian
Last visited: November 8, 2010
Location: Napa Valley, California (Yountville)
Address: 6480 Washington St. Yountville, CA
Price Range: $50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Since November 2005
- Chef Richard Reddington
- Pastry Chef Nicole Plue
- Best pastry chef in the nation
- 1 Michelin Star
- Award winning
- One of my favourite restaurants
- Contemporary American cuisine
- Seasonal menu
- Award winning wine bar
**Recommendations: Honestly I don’t think you can go wrong anywhere. I would be recommending dishes better from the best. My highlights are Caramelized Diver Scallops and John Dory. Please don’t pass on dessert, and if you’re only getting one I would recommend the Peanut Butter for sure.
I was in San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival and after the festivities my cousin and I decided to take a day trip to California’s famous Wine Country, Napa Valley. We had spent the afternoon indulging in baked goods and pastries at Chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, and next on the itinerary was more food, but savoury food. There’s two things to do in Napa Valley: Drink and eat. And repeat. So I guess that’s 3 things.
It was a toss up between Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, and Auberge Du Soleil Restaurant as well as a few others on my list, but we eventually settled on Redd. Redd was on my itinerary, but it wasn’t a priority until I heard locals give it some positive feedback. It’s been there since 2005, and it’s a 1 Michelin Star restaurant, but it often gets overshadowed by popular long standing restaurants like Bouchon.
I’m about to make a bold statement. Actually, I’m about to make several. Based on what I tried, this is one of my favourite restaurants to date. Yeah, I know! I didn’t even try the whole menu and I’ve only been here once, but it was one of my most memorable meals in terms of dining experience and food. I’m from Vancouver, BC and I would honestly consider visiting California just to dine at Redd again.
It was mid afternoon when we sat down at Redd and our intentions were only to have a late lunch/pre-dinner, which turned into a very full and satisfying meal. Every initial bite of every dish made me throw my head back and that’s a definite foodgasm. I’ve never “mmm’d”, “aahh’d” or “oohh’d” over so many dishes as I did at Redd. It’s definitely one of those restaurants where everything from ingredients, seasoning, and plating is bang on, with the flavour of each ingredient being showcased to the best of its potential.
It could have helped that Chef Richard Reddington was actually in the kitchen cooking himself, and that’s something surprisingly hard to come by especially at restaurants like this. I had to ask our server if I could pay compliments to the chef, which I rarely ever do personally, but I had to thank the master behind the scenes for one of my best meals ever.
I was lucky enough to actually meet Chef Reddington and see his kitchen of talented young chefs, so I can’t comment on the service since the mystery of blogging was something I was willing to share. Nonetheless it doesn’t even matter if they knew or not because I could sense the dedication behind the food and it was phenomenal. Oh, and did I mention the Pastry Chef just won the title of “Best Chef in the Nation”? Yup, don’t worry I’ll get back to this.
If I was going to die after a meal it wouldn’t be bad if it was after this one. BUT I’d have to have tried every dish.
Redd offers creative dishes with influences from European, Mexican, and Asian cuisines. The food is uniquely Californian and uniquely Redd’s. It’s one of those restaurants where everything sounds good on the menu, but is even better when you taste it. And that doesn’t happen often! We were so stuffed after the meal, but there were still more dishes we wanted to try. We literally discussed running down the block five times just to work up an appetite so we could order the remaining dishes. I literally salivate just looking back at these photos, which by the way the close-ups and pretty ones are courtesy of my cousin, who should totally start a photography blog .
On the table:
- The bread was a Ciabatta bread and it was served room temperature. It was was a little hard but nice and crusty with a chewy middle. It had noticeably large holes which is incredibly hard to achieve in a Ciabatta. I’m not sure if it’s made in house though.
Amuse Bouche (Roasted Chestnut & Apple Soup) – 6/6
- Roasted chestnut and apple soup – complimentary.
- This is the biggest amuse bouche (one bite appetizer) I’ve ever had. It was a full bowl of soup. It doesn’t always happen, but when chef is in a good mood, he’s in a good mood!
- This was also one of the best soups I’ve ever had and I almost licked the bowl.
- It was more like a bisque than a soup and it seemed like it was made with the pure paste of roasted chestnuts. It was ultra creamy and velvety smooth with the nutty taste of roasted chestnuts balanced with a sweetness of pureed apples. Although smooth, it was also grainy, but a grainy that you want and look for in a chestnut soup.
- It was very rich and thick, but the richness and thickness came from the flavour and texture of the chestnuts rather than the usual potatoes and cream.
- I could taste every layer of ingredient including the the subtlety of the aromatics like onions and celery to help build the intense flavour of the soup.
- It got better with every spoonful and the best one was the bite with the crunchy, yet not too hard, savoury brown butter Ciabatta crouton that had absorbed some of the flavours of the soup.
- Although different, I was reminded of the excellent caramelized onion and apple bisque with goat cheese crouton from Chef Marcel Kauer at Hasting House Country House Hotel Restaurant.
**Caramelized Diver Scallops – 6/6
- Caramelized diver scallops, cauliflower puree, almonds, balsamic reduction $14
- This is the best scallop dish I have ever had and I’ve never appreciated a scallop dish more than this one. It was my second scallop dish of the trip, and since this one I’ve been on a mission to find one that can beat it. I haven’t found one yet. This was definitely my creme de la creme of the whole meal.
- It was 3 large scallops perfectly seasoned and seared on both sides with a caramelized nutty and savoury crust and tender middle. Each bite was super buttery and juicy without being too rich and the cauliflower puree was rich enough, yet light enough to not overwhelm the scallops natural flavour.
- The cauliflower puree was buttery and creamy yet saucy like a mayo. I loved the incorporation of crispy cauliflower florets, juicy sweet golden raisins, salty bites of capers, tangy balsamic reduction and crunchy toasted almonds. It was the perfect medley of creative flavours and textures that hit all my taste buds at once and nothing was overpowering.
- Every bite was a different experience and I loved the combination of juicy bursts of sweet raisins and juicy bursts of salty capers. My only challenge was to not lick the plate.
- Another very memorable scallop dish I had was from C Restaurant in Vancouver, BC – Smoked Baynes Sound Scallop.
**John Dory - 5/6
- John Dory, creamy jasmine rice, clams, chorizo, saffron curry nage $15
- This was highly recommended by the table beside us and it was an unexpected surprise compliments of the chef. Honestly, I can’t believe I almost missed out.
- It was a cross between a bouillabaisse, a paella, and Chinese “pao fan” known as rice soup.
- It was my first time trying John Dory, and it’s a firm white fish with a mild taste, delicate and flaky flesh that simply absorbed all the flavours it was cooked in.
- It’s a very aromatic dish with Spanish flavours and the first bite is savoury and tangy followed by the sweetness of coconut milk in the rice. The rice was creamy yet balanced out by the light yet flavourful broth and hint of curry. The delicate bubbles of saffron foam added a perfume like flavour on the palette with a slight bitterness you actually appreciate in this dish.
- The chorizo was the perfect accompaniment giving it a meaty and slightly spicy bite. It was used sparingly so it never overpowered the John Dory.
- There was subtle layers of sweetness from the basic aromatics like carrots, celery, and onions which matched the sweetness from the coconut, fish and saffron.
- It was a gorgeous light seafood dish, although I found the rice a tad mushy and the clams a bit small although fresh.
- Personally I would have liked a Sablefish, but every ingredient had a supporting roll and reason to be there.
Steamed Pork Buns – 4.5/6
- Steamed pork buns, hoisin, vegetable salad $14
- I would never really consider ordering Asian food from non-Asian establishments, but I did it here because it’s the most popular and favourite dish.
- It was a very generous portion and it reminded me of the Mantou with braised beef short ribs from Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, that was good, but this was 100 times better.
- It was a very puffy, soft, and moist pocket of mantou bread (a Chinese bread) stuffed with a generous amount of saucy braised pork belly filling, served on a bed of crunchy and refreshing Asian cole slaw salad.
- The saltiness from the savoury and sweet Hoisin sauce was a bit sharp, although eaten with the salad it was toned down and better. I could see the balance of having the salad there and since it was tangy and lightly dressed it helped cut the richness of the fatty pork belly. The salad was made with Napa cabbage so I loved the gentle sweetness it added.
- It was almost like a Chinese burger and every bite was saucy and juicy and the bread was sturdy enough to hold up to the pork, but light enough to not overpower it.
- The pork belly was a good balance of meat and tender melt in your mouth fat, but I lost a bit of the pork flavour because the sauce was so bold.
- The sauce was not just hoisin sauce though as I could also taste a little chili sauce, but it wasn’t spicy and it just added a little heat and nuttiness to the meat.
**Crisp Duck Confit – 5/6
- Crisp duck confit, lentils, foie gras meatballs, crispy spaetzle $14
- If duck confit is on the menu, it’s almost always on my table.
- It was a very meaty dish with rich ingredients, but it was executed in a rather light manner, considering the au jus sauce was very buttery and savoury with flavourful meat drippings.
- I’ve never had the duck confit served in a steak like form, so it was definitely different from the usual.
- The duck confit had a crispy skin and the texture was almost like pulled pork. It was a very good duck confit, but not as memorable as the one from Le Gavroche or Cru Restaurant. The dish was actually quite reminiscent of the duck confit from Cru Restaurant.
- Again I could taste his basic aromatics of celery, onion, and carrots, and layered on top of those sweet flavours was the nuttiness of crispy spaetzle and creamy earthy lentils. Spätzle is a type of European egg noodle that’s soft and puffy and almost like little clumps of pasta. I didn’t really see the match between the lentils and the spätzle, but I could see the match with each starch paired with each meat separately.
- The meatballs were soft and nicely pan fried with a slight crust, but the taste of foie gras was very mild and a bit too light.
- I kind of felt like I was eating two separate dishes. I think it would be better to have the meatballs secondary to the prime meat dish, which was supposed to be the duck confit. I think if the meatballs were smaller and the foie gras wasn’t mixed in, but both ingredients were more incorporated in the spätzle and lentils, that would have made all the difference.
Dessert is a must try here. It was on par with the savoury dishes and it’s definitely some of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Pastry Chef Nicole Plue just won the award for 2010′s Best Pastry Chef in the Nation and her desserts are not to be missed. Every dessert was beautifully crafted, with careful attention to detail, and a very unique savoury and sweet balance.
Every bite kept me guessing with what ingredients were used. It was the most amazing desserts and it takes death by desserts to a whole new level. Everything sounded great on the menu, but it was even better than expected and beyond my imagination in taste. Unfortunately Plue had the day off though, so I can only imagine the magic she brings when in the kitchen.
**Peanut Butter – 6/6
- Peanut butter – milk chocolate gianduja, peanut honeycomb parfait $10
- The Peanut Butter is the must try and world famous dessert to order because this is the gem that won Plue Best Pastry Chef in the Nation.
- Every component was enjoyed alone and also enjoyed together or even in alternate bites.
- This reminded me of a dessert I had at Rush in Calgary.
- In the front was almost a deconstructed version of the peanut butter bar. It was a creamy thick chocolate hazelnut mousse on a bed of lightly candied and crunchy roasted peanuts sprinkled with a touch of fleur de sel or sea salt. The saltiness with the sweetness was perfect and it just enhanced the flavours of the nuts and everything else.
- Milk Chocolate Gianduja
- It was a creamy smooth and mousse like chocolate and hazelnut bar on a thin layer of what seems like a crispy hazelnut Nutter Butter wafer crust. I’m a sucker for this crust and it’s also used in one of my most favourite cakes, the Blueberry Pistachio Cake from Bakery Nouveau in Seattle, WA. I don’t know how they make it, or what it is, but I absolutely love it.
- The contrast of creamy and crispy, nutty and sweet, yet not too sweet was all very well balanced.
- Although it was excellent, this was actually very similar to Cactus Club’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bar, so it wasn’t as out of the world for me. That crunch bar is also one of my favourite desserts, so both are excellent. This one is better due to the quality of ingredients and execution though.
- Peanut Honeycomb Parfait
- This was the component that blew me away. I don’t even know what it was. I just drank it and it was like Love Potion #9.
- It was almost like a liquid parfait, but too textured to be a drink, and it was definitely tres tres excellent.
- It was almost like a nutty sweet foamy coffee with little pieces of crispy crunchy honeycomb and then the taste of pure real honey bee honey. It also had a chocolaty like caramel flavour and even a scent of perfume and I almost thought there was Saffron in it. It was creamy and sweet, but still light with the foam and not too sweet with the slight bitterness from the espresso to break it all up. It was so complex and this was out of this world.
- I couldn’t confirm anything since Chef wasn’t in house, but she rarely gives her secrets away.
**Butterscotch Sundae – 5.5/6
- Butterscotch sundae, vanilla rum ice cream, salted butter galette $10
- This was another unexpected surprise and again thank goodness because I would have missed out since ordering a “sundae” seemed too generic.
- Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of butterscotch, but when it comes like this… oh god… it’s a whole other story! I have never enjoyed butterscotch so much in my life.
- To call it a “sundae” doesn’t do it justice at all. I don’t even know how to describe it or where to start.
- It was like the best form of a semi melted milkshake and it was almost like a cold dessert soup. It was a blend of a frothy caramel milk and peanut butter mousse with a hint of espresso so it was almost like a thick latte too. It was all centered around a creamy vanilla rum ice cream and topped with crispy caramel popcorn. There was some crispy dark chocolate cookie crumbs or chocolate bar crumbs somewhere near the bottom and every spoonful was a new ingredient to be discovered.
- There’s no heaviness or greasiness of melted ice cream, but that’s almost what it seems like. I hate melted ice cream, and it tastes nothing like it, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It had multi levels of sweetness and again it wasn’t too sweet.
- It was paired with a salted butter galette which was a soft, tender and buttery cookie that is a cross between a pie crust and short bread. If you like salted caramel you’ll love this dessert because the bite of butterscotch sundae and then the bite of salted cookie was a combination not to be reckoned with.
- After a good long dinner and foodgasm, you must end off with a good espresso.