Never heard of Red? Neither had I. Not sure what Red is? Besides the name of a color, I wasn’t sure either. But I made the trek — past the Occupiers on the Green, past that Starbucks that no one goes to, past the Get IT Together Uniform Outlet, and past Bentara on Orange Street — and I returned safely, satisfied with my escape from the Yale environs.
Red is a restaurant. The decor is, unsurprisingly, all red. It’s a modern, spacious place, the type of first-date location where a city slicker would take the girl he picked up last night in a bar. Slim wood tables and long benches line the walls; in the middle of the restaurant, a lacquered grand piano holds center stage. The ceiling is smothered in white fabric that glows red, and long fabric pillars hide crimson lights that infuse the restaurant with a rosy glow.
Service was smooth, efficient, and subtle, from the moment my companion and I slid in through the glass doors and were seated at a central table. Our water glasses were refilled plentifully, our bread was brought to us without a wait, and each plate appeared just when the preceding one had been devoured.
We began the meal with the complimentary bread — an unremarkable basket of the fluffy white variety — but the option of either butter or olive oil was a sophisticated touch. Next, we tried the scallop appetizer. Although the portion was small (just three little scallops!) and the initial hit of flavor tended to the salty side, the seafood was just sweet and tender enough to leave us wanting more.
Next came the edamame hummus with sesame flatbreads. We agreed that the flatbreads, which were rather like tortillas, were bland. But the hummus had a kick to it that outweighed the simplicity of the bread, and a garnish of freshly grated carrot added some zest.
For the main course, we tried two things: the Red Parisian burger, and the cedar terikayi salmon. The burger was a hit. The Angus patty with its peppercorn brie sauce was tasty, but the inspired touch was the addition of seaweed (instead of plain old lettuce), which added an unexpected burst of flavor. The brioche bun, however, was dry and crumbly, and did not live up to the flavor of its contents. On the other, healthier hand, the salmon was smoked to perfection — but its preparation was found lacking. Served with only a few bits of baby bok choy, we thought it a boring dish.
Dessert was another story. Two classics, handled masterfully: first, a basic creme brulee — a rich, creamy custard tempered by the crispness of the bruleed crust. Next, the flourless chocolate torte. The word “bomb” comes to mind when describing this delectable treat. It is literally a mass of dark, dark chocolate, so dense and so delicious that even I (avowed chocoholic that I am) could only manage a few bites before putting down my spoon, satisfied.
On the way out, I noticed that Red projects dancing disco lights onto the sidewalk outside its doors. Too bad; Red is a classy place for classy people — if they’re willing to walk all the way to Orange Street, that is.