The abandonment of an controlling chef can be alarming for a accomplished dining restaurant. When it happens alert in three months, a crisis is brewing.
That’s what happened in 2018 at Red Martini Kitchen & Cocktails, one of a baby scattering of aristocratic restaurants in city Redmond.
When the bucket chock-full bubbles and the beef cleared, the affected allowance on the arena attic of the 90-year-old New Redmond Auberge was as acceptable as it had anytime been, maybe better. And buyer Suzanne Tarbet was in the kitchen.
Tarbet is acclimated to acquirements on the job. That accomplishment has agitated the San Diego built-in through careers in backroom (as a mayoral abettor in Portland in the mid-1990s) and broadcasting (as promotions administrator and on-air aptitude for a radio group). “In every position I’ve had in my life, I’ve jumped in and done it with no experience,” she said.
Tarbet opened Red Martini in December 2013 with Jerry Phaisavath as consulting chef and “by far, the active force,” she said. But aftermost July, the chef had to abandon aback to accord with a ancestors emergency in his built-in Laos. Almost immediately, Tarbet assassin addition chef, one with an absorbing resume and a French comestible background.
“I gave him a bare slate,” she said. The new chef installed his own card but vanished alone a few weeks later, surreptitiously removing his knives afore emailing Tarbet that he had ‘received a bigger offer.’ My aplomb was shot,” Tarbet said.
She bankrupt Red Martini for several weeks to alteration aback to “my own brand,” as she put it. “I agree active a restaurant to council a ship,” Tarbet said. “Your administration is accidental on the accepted or the wind. Sometimes, you aloof accept to booty the captain and get things angry around. It’s the hardest job I’ve anytime had — continued hours, a lot of sacrifices and on-the-job training.”
She absitively to don the crimson of controlling chef. Over the years, Phaisavath had accomplished her his affable style, as able-bodied as added capacity like plating and infusions.
“I accept had to admonish myself not to diaphoresis it, that I am affable for friends,” she said. “I await on the front-of-house staff, on the bartender and servers, to arrange the flow. We assignment calm as a aggregation to assure the chump is accepting the best acquaintance possible.”
Cocktails and appetizers
It’s a attestation to Tarbet’s adherence that Red Martini has not alone survived but thrived. The continental-style cuisine is superb and moderately priced; as chef, Tarbet displays a ability of bounded and melancholia styles. The accomplished delay and bar agents absolutely affectation able accuracy at all turns of the dining experience.
And the ambiance, which reflects the Art Deco address of the 1928 auberge building, promotes a faculty of Prohibition-era speakeasies with red drapes, blind lamps and a archetypal blur silently arena on one bank of the dining room.
My dining accessory and I began a contempo banquet at Red Martini with signature cocktails. “The Red” ($12) is a vodka martini alloyed with adhesive juice, simple abstract and Prosecco, accomplished with a accomplished bough and beginning raspberries. It was delicious, although I would accept admired it bigger after the bubbly. My acquaintance had a Amethyst Martini ($10) with vodka, Cointreau, beginning amethyst and auto juice.
We sampled three appetizers, including “goat cheese cigars” ($12) that bore a ambiguous affinity to Greek spanikopita. Local chèvre, attenuated with caramelized onions and herbs, was captivated in filo dough, broiled and brindled with beginning thyme. It came with two sides: My accessory adopted the blubbery fig jam, while I admired a bourbon maple abstract served in a attempt bottle for dipping.
Although the card describes gougères ($8) as “French abominable chrism puffs,” there is annihilation buttery about them. As affluent as adulate but about ablaze as air, these broiled cheese puffs — topped with sprinkles of base alkali and absurd — seemed to cook in our mouths.
The best affair about the pomme frites ($7), or French fries, served in a cone with a dribble of white truffle oil and a baptize of rosemary, was the accessory of house-made, begrimed amazon sauce.
Soup, salad, entrees
Gratinée ($11) — broiled French onion soup — was accomplished and almost salty, alike admitting the aftertaste could accept been added with a added acceptable burst of affable sherry. Per tradition, crostini and Gruyère cheese were floated on top.
I’m not a huge fan of block salads, but the archetypal block ($11) served actuality was excellent. A brittle arch of fresh, algid abstract bill was quartered; topped with an Oregon bleu cheese bathrobe and cheese crumbles; and accomplished with brittle bacon bits, broken red onions and bisected blooming tomatoes.
My accessory and I went surf-and-turf on entrees. I chose the hooved meal: beef tenderloin medallions ($30). Topped with a ablaze and buttery Gorgonzola cheese sauce, and altogether adapted medium-rare per my order, the meat was served with parsley-sprinkled red potatoes and agilely sliced, sauteed carrots.
While the beef was terrific, my acquaintance hit the comestible jackpot with trout meunière ($26). The absolute booty on this compound calls for the angle to be adapted in agilely browned butter. Tarbet acclimated beurre blanc, an blurred adulate sauce, forth with minced celery, garlic cloves and pistachios; she accomplished the trout with a auto allotment and a baptize of parsley. We admired the artistic approach. Mashed potatoes and blooming beans accompanied.
Dessert was a custardy crème brûlée ($8) and a allotment of amber corruption block ($9), topped with raspberry coulis and vanilla-bean ice cream. But by this time, we had no allowance for sweets.
Tarbet, as if she doesn’t accept abundant on her plate, affairs an alike busier 2019. With advance of the three-story New Redmond Auberge underway, she has taken allegation of developing a rooftop bar projected to accessible at the end of May, confined baby bites with cocktails.
When the 46-room bazaar auberge reopens after in the summer, she additionally will administer a ground-floor accoutrement bazaar alms grab-and-go commons and smoothies.
Although she’ll abide arch chef, she will calculation aloft a sous chef to advance the Red Martini kitchen at a aerial level. “I charge to accept a activity and bandwidth,” she said with a smile.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be accomplished firstname.lastname@example.org .
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