If it hadn't been for the effusive praise of my restaurant-going neighbour, I don't know that I would have looked twice at the The Redwood Grill. Located in the Future Inn heading into Bayers Lake, I've thought of it more as a restaurant of convenience than quality. Little do I know, as I head through the front doors to meet up with friends, that this perception is about to change.
The decor, as expected, is full of redwood—doors, chairs and tables are all wooden; there booths toward the back, and a bar to the left for just drinks or lighter fare. It doesn't remotely feel like a standard, generic hotel restaurant.
The menu is extensive, with no pervasive theme. To start, we select Asian spring rolls ($6.99), crab cakes ($7.99) and spinach and artichoke dip ($8.99). The spring rolls come with bottled Thai sauce; the crisp wrappers are stuffed with vegetables and pork. The crab cakes are the largest I've seen plated as an appetizer, heavily breaded and fried. A Cajun tomato-mayo sauce adds some zip. The dip is served with warm flatbread wedges. Crumbled feta on top makes for a nice change from grated mozzarella or parmesan, the bold feta flavour playing nicely off the earthy spinach element. The starters may not be overly stimulating in the taste department, but they've been prepared competently and bode well for the rest of the meal.
For main courses, we're trying the Thai pork pasta ($13.99), grilled salmon ($16.99) and seafood chowder ($9.99). The pasta dish is composed of vegetables with slices of pork that have been battered and fried, then tossed in a Thai sauce and ladled atop the pasta. There is plenty of flavour, but the heavy pieces of pork and thick sauce are better suited to a more robust pasta than the delicate angel hair noodles on which they lie. This doesn't really detract from the bold taste, which is quite satisfying.
The salmon is delightful, a large fillet grilled and served with rice. The white-wine and dill sauce that tops the fish is a classic, and does well here. The only real disappointment is the seafood chowder. It looks unappetizingly thick, and though the broth is not as sludgy as it first appears, the lack of promised ingredients means that the cream base is all there really is. It's as if the cook forgot to stir the pot before dishing up the soup, and all the good stuff has settled in the bottom and doesn't make it to the dining room.
Chocolate mousse ($5.99), apple jacks ($5.99) and peanut butter bombs ($4.99) leave us smiling. The chocolate mousse is pretty straight up, a lovely smooth mousse in a crisp, edible dish. The apple jacks are good enough for breakfast—warm apple fritters with butterscotch sauce, sweet, dusted with cinnamon and hard to resist. The chocolate bombs are a bit of a surprise, because every mother I know makes this kind of thing and I've never seen it in a restaurant setting before. Little balls of peanut butter and something crunchy (like Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes) are dipped in melted chocolate and cooled. Here, they've been served up with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Simple, yet delicious, I love them.
Our server, Lindsay, has been phenomenal. She bids us good night and tells us it's been a pleasure to serve us, in such a genuine way that we believe her, leaving us with a great feeling of being appreciated and welcomed. If this is the service standard, I can see why the Redwood is such a favourite.
Redwood Grill30 Fairfax Drive(in the Future Inn)446-4243Daily 7am-10pm
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