Date: February 19, 2011
Cuisine: Modernized Vietnamese
Summary: Really interesting food full of very bold flavors, and at very reasonable prices.
For my brother’s birthday we decided to head back to Red Medicine (first review HERE), the casual modernized Vietnamese place in mid-town. Tasty again! Even on a very rainy night it was hopping and we had to get a drink at the crowded bar to wait for our table.
The drink menu features a number of very interesting and extremely well executed specialty cocktails. Plus, these are very reasonably priced at $10. The PDF version is HERE.
“#18 Krome Vodka, Chili-Anise Shrub, Lime, Grapefruit, Peychaud’s Bitters, Basil(s), Ginger Beer. Shaken and rolled into a tall glass. Inspired by Scott Beattie’s ‘Irian Jaya’.” This was one yummy drink. The ingredients were all clearly very fresh, and you could taste each and every element. The sour of the grapefruit in the front, the basil in the middle, the bitters and ginger on the finish. I sucked it down in like 2 minutes.
The main menu. Slightly changed up from when we were here in December. The PDF version HERE. Everything is family style with approximately 3 savory dishes needed per adult.
And the wine-list, PDF HERE. They have a rather odd corkage policy. During the week it’s $25, but they will waive one corkage for each bottle you buy, which is very reasonable. Friday and Saturday, no corkage! I don’t like no corkage, but the list is very reasonable, with many fine sweetish whites (which I like and go with the food) in the $55 category.
Like this favorite of mine, Parker gives it 91. “Extremely bright in aroma as well as palate impression, the Prums’ 2008 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett is dominated by lemon and grapefruit, with village typical cherry and cassis manifesting themselves as an invigorating chew of fruit skin that is delightfully complimented by estate-typical impingement of CO2. Lush yet light, this finishes with not only blazing brightness but a cress-like pungency and strikingly intense salinity and suggestions of wet stone, making your palate stand to attention, wide awake! Plan on following it for a couple of decades, although, unlike many Joh. Jos. Prum wines, I find it (and many of the estate’s 2008s) downright irresistible already.”
“hokkaido scallop cured with lime sugar, green strawberries, coriander, wood sorrel.” This replaces the excellent “Fluke cured with lime” dish from last time. It wasn’t quite as good, but was still wonderful. The scallop was subtle and soft, the white radish crunchy and bitter, and my favorite part the “lime sugar” floating on the vinegar sauce.
“SOFT RICE PAPER / rock shrimp, jackfruit, black garlic, bean sprouts.” A varient on the typical soft spring roll. Nice textures, and the shrimp were good, but could have used a bit more flavor, or just some sweet and sour sauce.
“DUCK / 5-spice, charred frisee, chicory, tamarind syrup, grains of paradise.” A repeat, but worth it. This duck has a wonderful charred and sweet BBQ flavor, and it just falls apart. Really succulent.
“BANH MI / foie gras, pate de campagne.” Another irresistible repeat. The rich foie, the crunch of the pickles and crust, and the considerable heat of the seranno peppers all blend to perfection. Similar yet different from the other Banh Mi I had recently at Saam (REVIEW HERE).
“LAMB BELLY / hoisin, hibiscus-onion, sunflower seeds, salsify, lady apple.” A brand new dish, and a stunner. The dark stuff is the lamb, and the sunflower crusted stuff the salsify. There is a unique blend of flavors and textures here, but the lamb was the stand out. Crispy fried in hoisin it most closely resembled an awesome interpretation of crispy Schezuan beef.
“BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, spicy herbs, nuoc leo, chlorophyll.” Another goodie. The meat and greens are placed on a shrimp chip. Fabulous interplay of texture and flavor.
“PORK / caramelized black vinegar and honey, prunes, sorrel, dried almond.” Again one of my favorites. This pork is like the perfect sweet BBQ. It just falls apart.
The dessert menu, PDF HERE. We ordered the two we didn’t have last time.
“RHUBARB / mahlab cremeux, hibiscus, gentian, aromatic willow.” This, I guess, is supposed to be a reinterpretation of a strawberry shortcake. The net effect to me was perhaps a bit more like cheesecake. It was very creamy and pleasant, with the rhubarb itself understated and adding only a subtle sourness to the dish. It certainly looks pretty too!
“LIME SABAYON / cucumber ice cream, cashew macaroons, white chocolate, jasmine.” This dish had strong taste resemblances to Key Lime Pie. Particularly if you got all the elements except for the cucumber ice-cream. This last was good, but through off the key lime thing. The butter colored disk below is the lime I think, and the macaroons had an awesome perfect chewy texture. Overall a really good dish.
Overall Red Medicine continued to impress. It offers really interesting and cutting edge food with bold and unique flavors at a very reasonable price point. I love the small dish only format. I’ve become so spoiled by that or long prix fixe meals that I can hardly eat at normal appetizer/entree restaurants anymore If you haven’t been here, go!
To the Chefs and Owners, I thank you, and just hope that you keep mixing up the menu so it continues to offer variety and new flavors!