Friday, January 27th, 2006

Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar

consumed on 9/29/05

In writing this post, it struck me how ridiculous the name of this restaurant is: Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar. For the sake of staving off carpal tunnel another year I’ll refer to it as “RHBWSTB”. On second thought, let’s just make that “Red House.”

Red House is hard to find. And if you follow Mapquest’s directions, you will end up at the airport. Trust me. Through a stroke of luck, we managed to find Renton. Through a stroke of genius, we found a red house, which just happened to be the red house we were looking for.

Red House’s name says it all (and then some); it’s in a red house, they sell beer and wine, they serve tapas. What I wouldn’t have guessed is that you have to physically go pick out the beer and wine you want to drink with dinner. The catch is that the wine selections are stored in the dining area—and there isn’t much room to maneuver.

We wanted champagne, but the bubbly section was wedged into a corner behind an occupied table. My conversation went a little like this: “Excuse me ma’am, I’m not grabbing your husband’s ass, I’m just reaching for this bottle that happens to be located near his rear end.” I retrieved the bottle, brought it back upstairs, waited for our server to return, then handed it to him for chilling. I assumed that Red House would have one of those rapid cooling thingies, but no. Thirty minutes later we were drinking slightly less warm champagne.

I’m sure that some (or even most) people would find this system charming or quaint, but I’m just not one of those people. I’m too pragmatic to find it anything other than inefficient, and therefore annoying. But the menu looked good, so I turned my attention elsewhere.

The list of tapas was fairly large, so it was a good thing we had a large party; I think we ordered one of almost everything on the menu:

Red House Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese ($6)
Farmers Market Caprese Salad ($7.50)
Warm Wild Mushroom Salad with Pancetta and Goat Cheese ($8)
Fried Artichoke Hearts with Caper Garlic Aioli ($7.95)
Side Order of Grilled Rustic Bread ($2)
Lamb Meatballs w/ Smoked Paprika Tomato Sauce ($7.50)
Chicken Kebabs with Saffron Rice ($7.50)
Red House Meat Platter ($9.50)
Clams with Garlic, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk ($8)
Hot and Spicy Garlic Shrimp ($7.50)
Chipotle Deviled Eggs ($4.95)
Yam Fries ($4.50)
Jamaican Spiced Chicken with Pineapple Salsa ($9.95)
Beef Souvlaki with Pita and Cucumber Sauce ($8.50)
Crab Pasta ($12.95)

I would give the food a solid “Good” rating. Nothing was great or outstanding, but everything was reasonably priced and Red House doesn’t skimp on portions; these were the first tapas I’ve ever had where each plate looked more like an entire meal.

Would I make the drive out to Renton to eat there again? Probably not. If Red House were in Seattle would I eat there again? Maybe. Would I have a different opinion if they didn’t make you hunt for your wine? Probably. Does that mean I’m just incredibly lazy? Uh… no comment.

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13 Responses to “Red House Beer and Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar”

  1. Hmmm. Visions of you retrieving that wine are NOT pretty. And I’m not sure I’d want to drink from a bottle that was stored so close to someone’s (and all the previous someones who had been in that chair) ass. Okay, I’m cringing just a bit right now!

  2. daryn says:

    I’ve only been to Red House once, but I enjoyed it.. I didn’t have any warm champagne, instead ordering from their by-the-glass menu. Unless they recently changed their system, they have plenty of beer and wine available by the glass. I did enjoy the bottle selection though, and spent way too much money there i(in take-home bottles) n support of their business.

    Here’s the thing though: No, I probably wouldn’t ever think “let’s leave seattle to go eat at Red House”. That’s because there’s a wealth of restaurants in and around my neighborhood that are far superior, and much more convenient.

    If it was in my neighborhood, yeah, I’d probably eat there occasionally, or at least buy wine from them.

    But, as far as I know, there is nothing else like it in the renton/south-end area, and that’s why it’s a hit. If I’m down in that neck of the woods, It is certainly on my short-list..

  3. ms.proust says:

    I’m actually encouraged by what I see here considering we just had our offer accepted on our first house which will be in lovely Skyway, just a hop, skip & jump from downtown Renton. There seems to be a lot of development going on in that area & I hope places like the Red House spur on further culinary adventurists. Plus I’m happy to know you actually drove to Renton to eat as I’m worried that I’ll never see my friends again! Alas, Columbia City is way too expensive for two folks hawking wine for a living…

    Please do put me on your Seattle blogging network list. I enjoyed the last gathering & learned a lot from some of the seasoned veterans that gathered at Barca.

  4. joey says:

    You’re not lazy…picking wine from behind someone’s backside, as wonderful as it sounds, is not for everyone, hehehe :) Hey Megwoo, I posted about one of my fave pork snacks…drop by if you’ve got the time :)

  5. megwoo says:

    CF – Ha ha! Yes, it really was very awkward retrieving that bottle…

  6. megwoo says:

    Thanks for the heads up—when we were at Red House they didn’t offer us anything by the glass, but if I go again I will ask. And agreed… if I lived in (or even near) Renton I would visit often.

  7. megwoo says:

    Ms. Proust – Congrats on the house! How exciting! I look forward to hearing more about your culinary finds in Renton. And it was great to meet you—thanks for stopping by. I’ll be sure to let you know when we have our next get-together!

  8. megwoo says:

    Your post on Chicharon is making my mouth water!!! I’ve never had good, fresh ones—only those nasty packaged pork rinds that somehow manage to taste only of the bag they were stored in. I can’t wait to try the real thing!

  9. zia says:

    We live in Rainier Beach, so Renton’s not too far away … and there’s actually some cool stuff down there, more than one would imagine. In any case, we’ve been to Red House twice, and have enjoyed it both times. We go more for the selection than anything—and while I personally find the decor a little offputting (that horrible grape wallpaper strip at the top), I’ve found their tapas to be, as you put it, a solid good. We also never had a problem with the rapid cool thing—bottles arrive well-chilled within 5-10 minutes. Perhaps a newbie waitperson?

  10. megwoo says:

    Thanks for the comment Zia. It could very well have been a new waitperson—it was very busy that night and he was a bit flustered. Are there any finds in Rainier Beach that you would recommend? I haven’t explored that area much. Thanks!

  11. zia says:

    Unfortunately, there’s nothing in Rainier Beach that’s noteworthy, unless you want a good greasy spoon for breakfast. The Lakeside Cafe isn’t bad for Sunday morning breakfasts, but it’s also right around the corner for us, which is probably most of its appeal.

    If you find yourself in Renton again, however, definitely check out Melrose Grill, which has some of the best steaks I’ve ever had (as well as a very cool space). It’s close to Red House. There’s also an Indian restaurant that we’ve been meaning to try called Curry ‘n Naan or something like that. Several people have given it rave reviews.

    In the general vicinity, there’s always Stellar Pizza in Georgetown, which is the best pizza EVER—though don’t go expecting fast service. (And if you like Manny’s beer, the Georgetown Brewery is close by; you can fill up a growler for $5.) In Columbia City, I am also very partial to Both Ways Cafe. Then, there are two southern restaurant holes-in-the-wall at Rainier Ave and Genessee that are good.

    But you probably already know about those!

  12. megwoo says:

    Thanks Zia! Melrose Grill sounds good—I’ll have to check that out. I also haven’t been to Stellar Pizza yet, but that’s on my list as well. Thanks for the tips!

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