128 Paoli Pike
Tucked away in a building that has been home to several restaurants, including the long-running Luigi’s and the short-lived Big Easy, the current occupant, the Redhound Grille, has, thankfully, a welcome air of permanency about it…
The interior, which had been rather dark & brooding under previous administrations, is now light, airy, and casually but tastefully appointed; the bar area is lively & comfortable; and the service is friendly & knowledgeable. In addition, the hours are convenient (open seven days for lunch and dinner); there is a full calendar of daily dinner specials and live music; and you will also discover an interesting selection of wines and imported/craft & domestic brews.
At first glance – following a quick reconnaissance mission through the bar area – the Redhound may strike you as just another so-so neighborhood “happy-tappy,” catering to an egregious assortment of local characters… but this is definitely NOT the case. The thing that clearly sets this establishment apart is the outstanding quality of the food.
In point of fact, the Redhound Grille is very much in the tradition of what has come to be known as a gastropub. Semantically, a gastropub is a portmanteau, a word formed by merging the sounds & meanings of two different words. In this case, gastronomy and pub are joined to form gastropub.
In culinary terms, a gastropub is a pub (bar) that focuses on food. The concept began in England; and the term gastropub was coined in 1991 by David Eyre and Mike Belben, who took over and transformed The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London, giving as much attention to the quality of the cuisine served as they did the quantity of liquid libations dispensed… Or, as one writer has rather flippantly suggested: “Can we please just say pretentious bar?”
Regardless of the definition, however, the gastropub is obviously a culinary phenomenon whose time has come. The concept quickly spread beyond the British Isles; and with the coming of the 21st century, American foodies – ever in search of high quality casual cuisine, less pretension, and more reasonably prices – have embraced the idea with a vengeance.
And the Redhound Grille surely delivers the goods. Everything I’ve sampled thus far has been extremely well prepared, attractively presented, and served up at tariffs that won’t put a major dent in your wallet. Proprietors/chefs Shane Magee & Owen Marshall have created a menu comprised of classic American cuisine with, as they describe it, “a bit of a twist.” In addition, the fish they serve is sustainable and the meats are organic. They also utilize as much organic and local produce as possible.
If you happen to be in the area around the noon hour, lunch is always a good bet here. Sandwiches & burgers are excellent across the board, as are the salads & pastas, which are available as entrées or as reduced size portions… and priced accordingly. And don’t expect the roundup of usual suspects – or facsimiles thereof – the kitchen always adds something special, a “twist,” if you will, to tantalize the palate.
The tomato mozzarella chicken sandwich, for example, features not only a moist, perfectly grilled chicken breast, but also an invigorating shot of basil pesto and pillow of ciabatta bread. The BLT, on the other hand, reclines on toasted sourdough and is generously slathered with garlic mayonnaise. And for something a bit different, be sure to try the vegetable sandwich. This is a commingling of grilled veggies – asparagus, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes – packed into pita pockets and enriched with hummus and a splash of balsamic.
Burgers also do not disappoint. The bacon cheeseburger is comprised of Black Angus beef and garnished with a thick slab of house-cured bacon and aged cheddar. But an alternative, the turkey burger, is also worth considering. The ground turkey is enlivened with a variety of spices and adorned with house-made guacamole, seasoned roasted red peppers, and pepper jack cheese… And this combo generates just enough heat to make things interesting without causing any major conflagrations.
In addition to the above, there are a host of other possibilities that you might consider for either lunch or dinner. The crock of turkey chili with pristinely crunchy tortilla chips makes an excellent light lunch or dinner appetizer… And the same may be said for the superlatively seasoned black bean soup, with artistic squiggles of sour cream and dollop of pico de gallo (relish) providing additional pleasure for both eye and palate. The Caesar salad – headlining addictive potato croutons, shaved Asiago cheese, and a zesty Caesar dressing – is also worthy of attention, as are the Portobello ravioli and vegetable gnocchi, both embellished with an incredibly decadent Gorgonzola cream sauce.
When it comes to entrées proper, the fish ‘n’ chips – crispy deep fried blue cod accompanied by hand-cut fries, house-made coleslaw, and tartar sauce – which makes frequent guest appearances as a nightly special, is a classic presentation. And speaking of matters piscatorial, always keep a sharp lookout for the “Fish of the Day,” inevitably an appetizingly innovative presentation. Recently offered, for example, was a blackened salmon filet pillowed on an extraordinarily flavorful black bean compote and supplemented by tender broccoli rabe.
The skillet-roasted chicken is also highly recommended. This may seem a rather straightforward dish – but there’s still a great deal that can easily go wrong. Overcooked & dry as dust ring any bells? Ah… but here the kitchen truly proves its mettle, transforming what could be a relatively mundane presentation into something truly special. For starters, the organic breast is plump & succulent… And, as an added incentive, it arrives at table swimming in a piquant pool of lager pan jus… Plus, the accoutrements are just right: a creamy mound of Yukon gold smashed potatoes companioned by slender spears of perfectly prepared asparagus. Simple but sublime.
But carnivores also have their say… Like the slow-braised boneless short ribs of beef with pan jus, for example; or, in a more rustic vein, the braised lamb shanks in red wine served up with a white bean cassoulet.
Steak-wise there are a number of appetizing choices: The seared Black Angus NY strip comes kissed by an outstanding brandy cream sauce; the grilled balsamic-marinated dry-aged hanger steak is served up with sautéed mushrooms, hand-cut fries, and an assertive house steak sauce; and the latest incarnation of the grilled filet mignon, a frequent dinner special, arrives with a fluffy asparagus risotto and sauce béarnaise.
By all means, however, be sure to leave room for the luscious house-made desserts. Recently gracing the menu were a dynamite strawberry shortcake, and strawberry & hazelnut crèmes brûlées. But, in my opinion, the real stars of the sweet endings department are the cheesecakes. Rich, creamy and silkily textured, they simply steal the show. The lemon cheesecake is excellent… but the peanut butter version is simply off the charts. If you are a peanut butter fanatic – as I am – this is dessert of your dreams. Enjoy!
The Redhound Grille is surely a welcome addition to the neighborhood restaurant scene. Individually owned, organically oriented, and committed to serving sustainable fish and local produce, it is the perfect spot for a casual lunch, a satisfying dinner, or a happy-hour hiatus. Highly recommended.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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