Situated in the now famous town of Yountville (Napa Valley, CA) is the Redd restaurant, which has a couple of great qualities: No pretensions, paired with simple and delightful food. That the top quality wine list is and priced decently goes without saying.
Yountville has become a gastronomic gem because of French Laundry and Bouchon, two restaurants in Thomas Keller’s ever-growing emporium. These restaurants have had such an impact that the small town has seen a number of new hotels, restaurants and bars opening in the past few years. If you ask local winemakers or food writers to name their favourite eateries, despite the vast selection now lining the streets of Yountville you will always hear the name Redd (besides the two mentioned above). Surprisingly, Redd is a rather casual place. The slick interior, designed by Asfour Guzy, gives the room a modern yet relaxed feeling, which is also present in the service. As soon as you enter you feel good here, that’s for sure.
Chef Richard Reddington’s background includes stints at the exclusive Arpege and Daniel (and Thomas Keller asked him to be chef de cuisine at the French Laundry), but despite this, the cooking at Redd is devoid of any pretention. There is no playing with ideas, no trying to change textures or the like. No, here the food is simply a joy to eat. It is delicious, and full of comforting flavours.
One memorable dish is the organic roast chicken served with puree, chanterelles and liver on toast. It seems a simple dish, yet, the execution is spot on, creating crispy skin and meat both moist and tender. The smooth potato, reminiscent of the butter-laden Robuchon version, gives the dish a creamy background, whilst the intense chicken liver lifts the flavours a little. A similarly good dish is crispy squid with cayenne salt, tamarind sauce and a Vietnamese dressing. Again, it is simple, yet the freshness of the produce and technical dexterity turn it into something very tasty. But, what really makes this dish shine is the balance between acidity and the strong flavours of the tamarind sauce.
Redd gets even better with the roast pork buns and hoisin sauce. Similar to what Momofuko Noodle Bar serves in New York, this steamed bun is light in texture, and works perfectly with the chopped, intensely tasty and slightly crunchy pork. All the juices get absorbed by the fluffy bun that acts like a sponge. It is comfort food at its best, and the best dish of this restaurant, without doubt. But the unpretentious and simply satisfying food, is not all that attracts people to Redd. No, there’s more to it than just the room, service and food: Since you are in the Napa Valley, the wine list is stunning.From the house wine (made by Dominus Estate) up to little gems such as Sean Larkin’s Cabernet Franc, the selection is fantastic, and equally importantly, the prices are comparatively low.
All the factors mentioned here make it easy to understand why the country’s most famous winemakers love this restaurant so much: It’s a real joy to spend time eating here. Why can’t more places like this exist?