Thursday, 19 September 2013

Red House Restaurant

30 William Street West
Waterloo, Ontario


In her opinion:

Last weekend we were trying to figure out where to have lunch in our region...since we have a lot (and I mean a lot) of unfinished blog posts, we didn't really care where we were going as long as they had good food. The usual suggestions came up...Lancaster Smokehouse, Veslo Family Restaurant or Frat Burger...but Edgar was holding out on me...he had remembered a suggestion and wanted to try it out..Red House Restaurant! We would definitely need to blog about it...

Red House Restaurant is located in Uptown Waterloo. Chef Dan McCowan and sommelier Rebecca Pettigrew have managed to open a really a great looking place. The red exterior is bright and flashy! The front patio is cool and inviting and as you walk in you can't help but feel welcomed by the homey yet contemporary decor. 

We were greeted by our waiter Ryan who told us to pick any table. We picked a back table near the kitchen. Ryan filled our water glasses and brought over menus. He also filled us in on what the daily features were and left us to make up our mind.

When you peruse the menu you will see a lot of bistro favourites to pick from. Basically. the idea at Red House is to provide fresh food inspired by quality ingredients. We decided to stick with the water (possibly because we knew that there would be an abundance at the 2013 Feast of Fields event the next day)! Ryan brought us some hummus to snack on while we made our choices.

We opted to share an appetizer. We ordered the "Avocado and Bacon Pizza". This consisted of "grilled pizza dough, San Marzano tomatoes, Italian mozzarella, bacon, avocado, chilpotle and lime ailoi and fresh cilantro." 

In a word - perfection. Actually delicious perfection. This was so so good. The combination of bacon and avocado is a natural winner. By adding the chilpotle and lime ailoi to the traditional tomato and mozzarella the flavours were heightened even more! 

For my main, I went with "Chef Dan's Curry Bowl". This is a daily feature and on this day the kitchen was serving up a coconut lamb curry over basmati rice.

I love curries and this one was exceptional. The coconut milk and curry spices melded perfectly with the rustic flavours of the lamb. The basmati rice was cooked perfectly. This was just excellent.

I actually let Edgar finish my main so that I could order coffee and dessert...after all, since we were blogging, we should have a full meal to write about! Any excuse for dessert! After checking out the dessert menu, we decided to share the "Coconut Creme Brulee with Brule├ęd Bananas.

The coconut creme brulee was creamy, light and delicious. The brulee bananas were a nice addition to the plate. I really enjoyed my dessert. The coffee was organic fair trade and very good as well. 

Overall, this was a great meal. I thought that the food was very fresh and delicious, the service was warm and friendly - both Ryan and Becca were great hosts and servers and the atmosphere inviting. This is a great place for an intimate dinner for two or a family of six. Check out Red House, you'll be very happy you did! 

In his opinion:
Lately, I find it a bit hard to get enthusiastic about trying a restaurant for the first time in Waterloo Region, not for the lack of them but for the lack of excitement and good meals that one would think they provide. This one had come highly recommended from a fellow co-worker (Raph Kanai) and because I trust his judgement, I was looking forward to this adventure.

It is a very simple, bright red building on William Street that may catch your attention for the obvious colour reason, and not for the potential meal that awaits. This is the personal incarnation of former Charcoal Steak House Chef Dan McCowan.

The restaurant boasts a nice patio up front and an inviting, well appointed yet minimalist interior that feels welcoming and fresh. The staff was very cordial, friendly yet professional in their approach and added to the inviting aura that the restaurant exhibits.

While browsing the menu, I found myself nibbling on the complimentary humus platter that was brought to us, a nice gesture but a delicious one at that. The chef reminds you on the website that the food and drink menus will change regularly so please do check back regularly as the one you encounter on the site might be slightly different from the one at the restaurant.

There was one item that stood out from the rest for an appetizer but not for the usual reason of it "calling my name silently" but for the intriguing nature of its placement (pizza as an appetizer) but also for its appealing ingredients and composition. We opted for the Avocado & Bacon Pizza.

Apart form the alluring nature of its name, this pizza was served on grilled pizza dough with Italian mozzarella, bacon, avocado, San Marzano tomatoes, chipotle & lime aioli and fresh cilantro. Each bite was a delight and the ingredients/topping were extremely fresh adding to the deliciousness of the dish. The colours in each slice seemed to be from an impressionist painting, adding to the visual impact of the pizza.

For my entree, I opted for the "BBQ-Bacon Wrapped Quail" at the risk of a bacon overdose day, I couldn't pass up on that opportunity of having quail and bacon together. This dish is served with balsamic BBQ sauce, succulent roasted fingerling potatoes and a small fennel salad in the midst of the dish. The star of the dish was the quail and it was very well done. The slightly crispy bacon that was wrapped around it, acted as its crispy skin "per se" and gave the bird a more contrast of texture than I expected but I enjoyed. 

After a bigger than usual and more filling than expected appetizer and a good portion entree, I found myself lacking room for dessert but still was able to accommodate some room to share the Coconut Creme Brulee.

The creme brulee was served with deliciously fresh brulee bananas. The creme was very light and creamy as I expected. The coconut flavour was just right, not overpowering enough to overtake the dessert. I really enjoyed it and it was the perfect curtain call of our meal.

The Good: This great location is already pretty busy throughout the week and it certainly shows why. Great bistro style food combined with a simple and inviting setting and great customer service are a recipe for success and a winning combination.
The Bad: Not a lot of bad to highlight. After saying we needed a minute to decide on drinks and getting some water, we were never asked if we wanted a drink again.
The Verdict: Chef Dan McCowan has opened a winning spot in my opinion. This is exactly the right amount of fresh, appealing and unique type of restaurant that our Region needs so much. His creative no nonsense approach to the menu leaves you with great options to choose from and a satisfied palate.

I give it 4 out of 5 Olives as rating 

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