By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
There's not much in the way of sound treatment inside the strip-mall structure, and while I don't have a pocket dosimeter, I'm quite certain the football fans could rival a jet engine at take-off. When the game ended matters only got worse, as a solo guitarist tuned up and belted out the opening chords of an Oasis cover. Now conversation was impossible. The manager realized the problem and had the musician turn things down, but not before a three-top picked up their wine and plates and made for the patio, and not before the balladeer launched into Petty. I began to wonder why the RedFork sign wasn't in flames. Clearly I was dining in ambience hell.
Desserts managed to temper Satan's torch some. The bread pudding balanced texture that was not too custardy and not too dry; a fudge brownie sported bananas coated in brûléed sugar. But the vibe of the place had soured my evening. I wasn't enjoying myself. The owners of RedFork are going to have to address these tonal deficiencies if they want to create an experience that resonates with the various customers that grace its dining room.
When the food is good, as it often is, I can picture the space as it was initially billed: a neighborhood restaurant serving chef-driven and simple fare. To pull this off they'd have to revisit their beer and wine lists, which lack inspiration, tone down the football and pay a little more attention to the space. Dyed concrete floors, wooden blinds and sleek booths aren't enough to turn a soulless strip-mall location into a cozy culinary den. The owners would do well to check out Nosh, or Nonna — two nearby restaurants that have a similar footprint, and whose paint, booths and window treatments give them a completely different feel.
Or perhaps RedFork could play to the customers I find there most evenings, enjoying live music and taking in the game. Bucket specials for beer would work then, but pig terrines and reduction sauces might feel out of place. A menu featuring roast chicken, steak frites, and bar classics like Reubens, hamburgers and chicken wings might fit better.
For now the restaurant straddles those multiple genres, attempting far too much for one space and one kitchen, even with two competent cooks behind the pass. As RedFork struggles to find its identity the biggest victim is Carbery himself, whose kitchen skills are lost in the dissonance of a sports bar meets Tuscan trattoria meets frat party.