Review: Redd's in Rozzie

Locally sourced goodness, with a touch of the South
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  September 9, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

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After some chaos, we are able to make out the outlines of the next restaurant formula: locally sourced ingredients in familiar and retro dishes, with a bit of bistrofication. Or, as Redd's in Rozzie puts it, "modern and traditional American cooking with attention to using local ingredients and making it as funking good as we can." Add craft cocktails, craft beer (especially on draft), and offbeat wines by the glass, and offer as many kinds of seating as can be practically arranged. This format is so versatile it trolls in every possible demographic and even allows room for a few quirks of personality.

Chef Charlie Redd's personality is confident (note that Redd's is closed from Sunday brunch to Tuesday dinner — no rudderless Mondays on this boat), and his quirks are mildly middle-South, family-friendly, and independent (he makes his own ice cream and sausage, even though he is next door to Tony's Market). His biography refers to work at Radius, Hammersley's, Lumiere, Harvest, and Coda, but from his blog and the fried food on the menu, I suspect that his formative culinary experience was the first — as a busboy in an Outback Steak House in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Food at Redd's starts with bread. Here the chef does not make his own, but yields to the temptation of the superb Fornax bakery nearby, with salty butter as the complement. In this format, appetizers multitask as bar snacks, small plates, and kid's dinners. But don't let your children have the "crispy avocado with buttermilk dressing" ($3.95) until they eat their zucchini pancakes ($3.95). Deep-fried avocado is a level of decadence even Southerners seldom reach, and this is one is lightly battered (and thus crisp for a few minutes only), with a terrific peppery dip that you could, in an emergency, pour all over the four fried avocado sections to keep off kids who don't like that much pepper. The zucchini pancakes, served with a sharp relish/chutney, are my idea of health food, and vegetarians could make a fine dinner by combining them with other vegetable plates, such as the "farm fresh local" veggies ($3.95): a best-buy selection of (for example) spring peas, halved mini turnips, micro carrots, slices of new potatoes in two colors, and summer squash.

Another value vegetarian option is the "simple salad" ($4.95), with genuine Boston lettuce, shaved radishes, goat cheese, and a sprightly vinaigrette dressing. I found the "five-hour baked beans" ($3.95) a generous portion, but oversalted.

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For an entrée that looks like an entrée, the baked summer flounder ($16.95) will do well until winter flounder season begins. It's a lot of fish, mounted on those excellent roasted summer vegetables. The grilled half chicken ($15.95), which some people view as the test of a chef, rated a B-minus — juicy and tasty but not special. The accompanying "dirty rice" I found pretty clean; I'm used to dirty rice with at least some chicken livers and spare parts in it. This was closer to a vegetable risotto and made up in zest what it lost in authenticity.

On that beer list, I was impressed by a bottle of Unibroue Ephémère apple ale ($9.00) — a delightful old friend from the Publick House — but didn't want such a strong, Belgian-style brew on a hot night. A draft of Mayflower summer rye ($5.50), served with a slice lemon, was pretty much like a wheat beer (I expected a more sour flavor from the rye) and had a slightly spoiled finish. Might have been the tap lines, might have been Mayflower (although all their previous products have been whistle clean). This kind of lighter ale is hard to keep clean.

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  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , craft beer, American bistro, craft cocktails
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