Friday 20 November
Since our friends Lynne and Tom have commended Red Feather Kitchen to us, Barbara tried to reserve a table for our dinner with Jon and Lois last week, but they were all booked up. So tonight, she took Holt out for his birthday dinner there, to see why the place is so popular.
We were pleased by the warm and comfortable room we were ushered into. Red Feather Kitchen, though farm-to-table, has a more sophisticated ambience than the mismatched-multicolor decor or the brick-wall bareness of many such restaurants.
From the wine menu, which features a quote from Aristophanes, we ordered two glasses of Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Rosé Brut, a sparkler suitable for a birthday toast. With it, we ordered pork belly steamed buns - really open bao with a slice of (rather bland) pork belly, spiced up by a smear of Peking duck sauce, pickle, and pickled red onion. We also got a plate of chorizo lobster arancini in "duelling romescos," one standard red pepper, the other hazelnut, dusted with parmesan and prosciutto crisps, and topped with "wacky peas" - or pea shoots, to you and me. This was cleverer and better seasoned, especially the luscious hazelnut romesco.
We needed a big red for the main courses, and our attentive server steered us toward a 2009 Chateau Cap de Faugères Bordeaux - pricey, but worth it to accompany a well-crusted hanger steak with bourbon-chili glaze, shiitake mushrooms, stir-fried fennel and bok choy with overtones of hoisin, and sriracha miso butter. Another winner was the succulent chunk of short rib topped with crunchy gremolata, in a pool of cherry mostarda braising jus on a pile of watercress potato purée, with roasted root vegetables alongside.
As you see from all the italics on the sauces, the chef takes toppings and seasonings from a host of cuisines, but they're not confused or fusion-y; each one adds to the flavor buildup of the dish, so we can see why so many people are pleased by what Red Feather is doing.
Of course, there must be cake for a birthday, so our dessert was a slab of dark chocolate hazelnut torte, so soft and creamy it could have been mousse.
Next time we take a speaker to dinner, we'll book Red Feather well in advance.