Whenever I walk into Reddstone, I always feel like I’m stopping by a party at a neighbor’s house. Of course, that neighbor lives 30 minutes from my house and Reddstone is actually a snazzy restaurant-bar located in the Gordon Square Arts District. But, it’s that feeling of being able to comfortably hang out with a group of friends while grabbing a drink or a bite to eat, enjoy the weather on the patio, or watch a game in a lowkey setting that makes Reddstone another highlight of the Detroit Shoreway/Battery Park neighborhood.
Reddstone always seems to have a reason to celebrate which is fine by me – from Sunday pig roasts during the Browns game (with nickel beers to celebrate a victory/cheer you up after a loss), to their ‘Haunted Bar’ Halloween party or 10 cent taco nights. Plus, their patio – known to play host to a party or two – fully deserves its recent Scene Magazine win for best patio dining in the city. Fenced off with tables and stone seating, it features a second bar along the back side of the building. By not removing the trees from the patio area, they’ve established a very intimate and comfortable setting as if you’re hanging out in your own backyard. Even with the chill in the air, it’s still pleasant to spend time outdoors at Reddstone with their fire pit and heaters.
Scott and I most recently stopped by Reddstone during this year’s Cleveland Beer Week which falls around Scott’s birthday. Given his love of beer (and how much he has put up with shenanigans like this blog), I had been on a search to find a Beer Week event that would be a nice treat. As soon as I had seen the Reddstone Beer Week event, I knew I had found the perfect match: Bacon and Beer.
Reddstone partnered with the Smuttynose Brewing Co. to select 6 beers they could pair with a 5 course bacon-centric meal. Founded in 1994 by the same people who started the Northampton and Portsmouth Breweries, Smuttynose Brewing is New Hampshire’s leading craft brewery. They offer five full-time beers (Shoals Pale Ale, Old Brown Dog, Star Island Single, IPA, Robust Porter), as well as seasonal specialties (Hanami, Summer Weizen, Pumpkin Ale & Winter Ale) and a ‘Big Beer Series‘.
Before our first course was served, the evening started with a pint of the Smuttynose Star Island. Their pale golden ale was a great way to begin the evening and ended up being one of our favorite selections. Although it’s a lighter colored beer – one you could enjoy casually, there was still a dynamic flavor to it, featuring a slight residual sweetness from Honey Malt and hints of citrus from the Belgian yeast it is fermented with.
After we had time to settle in, the staff brought out the first course which demonstrated the asian influence found in some of Reddstone’s regular menu items: spicy bacon and kim chee pot stickers with an ‘Asian Porky’ dipping sauce. The highlight of this course was the kim chee which had a nice kick to it that mixed well with the slightly crispy pot stickers. Although the spice was a little too much for Scott (he has a low tolerance), my favorite dish of the evening was a toss up between this course and the third course.
Paired with the pot stickers was Smuttynose’s Farmhouse Ale. Part of their ‘Big Beer Series,’ it’s brewed in the ‘country ale’ style and slightly darker than Star Island – golden to light amber in color with a medium body.
Keeping with an appetizer motif, the second course was Scott’s favorite (and one he now wants to try cooking at home): Bacon Corn Dogs. Breaded like traditional corn dogs, the inside was filled with savory bacon. Coupled with a dijon dipping sauce, the bacon corn dogs were so delicious we didn’t care if they may have been mini-heart attacks on a toothpick.
I found that the bacon corn dogs was the dish most complementary to its paired beer – the S’Muttonator Doppelbock. A rich malty German-inspired beer, it’s a good one for sipping so you can enjoy both its sweet and bitter tastes. It’s a smooth beer with a nip of an alcohol bite at the end which will immediately warm up your face. The 2010 brew’s ABV rated a 9.5% on their website so it’s not for the weak of heart.
Midway through the night, it was time for an entree — a smoked pork belly and sausage slider with bacon and cabbage slaw/mayo. As I mentioned earlier, it was a hard choice between the first course and third course for which one was my favorite. Between all of the meats in the dish, this one was the most complex when it came to flavors. Every bite held something different and for any other carnivores out there it was a rich, tasty combination. I may have come for the bacon, but the sausage was a really nice addition. Because of this, if I were pressed to make a decision on my favorite dish, the sliders would have won out.
The sliders were paired with the Smuttynose IPA. I tend to shy away from especially hoppy beers so I’d have to admit the IPA wasn’t my favorite beer out of their entire selection. Notwithstanding my personal preferences, though, it was still a very good beer and if you love hops, I’d definitely recommend it. They also bottle it unfiltered, which is a brewing process that always interests me.
The fourth and fifth courses appealed to the sweet tooth: Bacon and Waffles and Bacon Cookies. The Bacon and Waffles featured a mini Belgian waffle topped with chunks of bacon and Woodford bourbon syrup. Considering how I typically will eat bacon marinated in syrup, this was an automatic win for me. This was paired with the Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale, a full-bodied American brown ale. The Bacon Cookies were a surprising end — I really enjoyed that the bacon was baked into the cookie. Similar to the waffles, it gave a nicely matched sweet and salty taste. Pairing it with the Robust Porter – a full, dark chocolate brown beer – was a wise choice as its coffee undertones complemented the cookie.
Bacon and Beer was hosted upstairs in the Reddstone’s party room, which is open for rentals with its own bar, tv/entertainment setup. This was nice because it was tucked away from the bustle of downstairs. And while the tables weren’t on top of each other offering a bit of privacy, we found as the evening went on the setup was intimate enough to socialize with other fans of bacon and beer. Besides the food, the highlight of the evening was meeting another couple at dinner who had a similar love of all things Cleveland. It was really nice to share stories with them over a couple beers.
With good food, good beer and enjoyable company, the evening was a success and an excellent birthday dinner for Scott. I would say the only problem (if you could call it that) was that I had a bit of difficulty getting through 6 whole pints of beer, some of which were on the stronger side. This, of course, has more to do with my significantly reduced tolerance compared to my younger days. I just know that I wasn’t feeling as festive the next day.
In addition to their Sunday Tailgating parties and their ongoing wings and taco nights, Reddstone is also participating in Cleveland Independents’ Restaurant Week until Nov. 14th by offering 1 Starter, 1 Entree, and 1 Dessert for $30.
Even if you’re not visiting Reddstone for a special event, Chef/Owner Josh Kabat has managed to create a place that combines neighborhood hangout (with reasonably priced beers and exceptional bar food) and swanky nightspot (with menu items such as Braised 5-spice short ribs with kimchee potato latke, plum sauce, and crispy leeks and a Tubes and Tentacles appetizer with squid, peppers, carrots, scallion and sweet sambal sauce). There’s also a brunch served on Sundays.
Along with producing good food, Kabat employs a friendly staff – from the waitstaff who were helpful and efficient at the Beer Week event, to the kitchen staff including Don Myers and Josh James who were among those that helped put together the mindblowing bacon-centric meal. While there have been occasions where Reddstone was particularly crowded and it took awhile to place an order or get a bill, those times seemed to have been because they were shorter staffed than usual or balancing a particularly large party with other guests. Personally, it’s not something that bothers me a lot and the food and atmosphere I think fair outweigh any delays I’ve encountered. Plus anyone that doesn’t mind chatting with me after 6 beers deserves some sort of award.
Reddstone Bacon and Beer 411: