While Bar Carrera was the initial spark to get the Hungry Roach up and running, my dinner the following night at the Redhead was more than enough fuel to make it really happen. I will be honest, the name of this restaurant was what caught my attention immediately. Redheads have played a huge part in my life - and, despite my claim to be categorized as a curly-haired auburn, I have actually been called a redhead on numerous occasions. Although I am fairly certain I am nowhere close to being a redhead, there is no doubt that redheads have a special bond and, in my eyes, a special fiery personality. This new east village restaurant definitely lives up to its name - making redheads throughout the world (especially southern ones) very proud.
Located on an extremely nondescript block in the east village, the Redhead is the type of restaurant that you could walk right by and never look back at. Luckily, I had read about this new-American, southern spot and had made a conscious decision to have dinner there with my sister (a true redhead) and an old family friend - both southerners at heart. Since they do not take reservations, we met on the early side (7 pm) last Wednesday night. At that point, the restaurant was pretty empty; however, the bar was packed with what appeared to be locals - people of all ages and backgrounds. This was unlike any other new, talked about restaurant I have stepped into in the city. I was both relieved that not every one else in the city had discovered the place, but also nervous that it might not live up to the great review I had read. Having picked the spot, I was, of course, a little more nervous than my dinner companions. Nevertheless, the moment our drink orders arrived, I was reassured that this would be another great Redhead in my life. The cocktail list is definitely worth exploring. My drink, the "Jala-pina (spice up your life)," was delicious and refreshing. I am always drawn to mixed drinks with a kick, although they can be hit or miss. This one was a definite hit!
As we moved onto the food, the meal became more and more enjoyable. I cannot remember the last meal that I went to in NYC where I did not share at least one or two dishes with my dinner companions. Sharing is one of my favorite aspects of eating out - allowing me to try many more dishes than it is reasonable to order! Even when I eat at restaurants where the menu is not designated as tapas, I insist on sharing at least starters. I made no exception at the Redhead where we started the meal sharing one item, bacon peanut brittle, off the "Snacks" list and one item, crab and leek tart with pecan crust and mushroom sauce, off the "Starters" list. Given the category that it was listed under, we should not have been surprised when the peanut brittle actually arrived in a small jar on the table. It was the perfect snack and start to the evening - reminding me of the bacon and peanut butter sandwiches that we used to eat at my grandmother's house in Halifax, Va. There were no surprises (in a good way) with the crab tart - it was exactly as described, made up of many of my favorite ingredients. I was only disappointed that it wasn't larger, since there were three of us sharing it. Although, this was probably a blessing in disguise since our entrees were all very rich - as true southern food should be! Despite having had far too many disappointing experiences with grits in NYC, I ordered the shrimp and chorizo grits - deciding that this would be the ultimate test of the Redhead. As with everything else I had consumed that evening, I was not let down - this dish can even compete with the grits I had down in Charleston a few months earlier!
It is hard to think that experience could get much better - especially when presented with the bill. However, not only was the Redhead affordable (main courses costing $15-19), but they give you a complimentary oatmeal chocolate chip cookie to go. And (how could I forget) we were able to take the jar of bacon peanut brittle home with us- one of the only times it pays to leave some food behind! Halfway through my walk home, I had cleared enough room for the delicious cookie and I was already thinking about the new Redhead I couldn't wait to introduce to my family and friends.
349 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003