Put them together and you have one of many culinary gems at The Redhead in New York's East Village. This small, bustling eatery with a very understated store front is anything but understated when it comes to the food coming out of its kitchen.
On a recent visit to NYC, I was determined to try this place, which I'd first seen featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. After walking the four long city blocks down E. 13th from Union Square, I was greeting with this.
So, of course, I had to go in.
My friend and I arrived about 6pm and although we didn't have a reservation, we didn't have to wait long for a table. The bar was busy but not crazy, although I would think that making a reservation for a later time is definitely recommended.
The restaurant is small, mostly with tables of 2 or 4, with seating for a larger party across from the bar or in the back corner. The decor is warm with wood and deep red cushions.
We immediately ordered the homemade soft pretzels with the Kentucky beer cheese - this is the reason why we came, after all. This little pieces of heaven were warm, chewy, simple delicious. Everything you want a soft pretzel to be. Just the right amount of salt too. And the beer cheese was creamy and cool - the perfect accompaniment to the warm pretzel.
My friend ordered the fried chicken, which she promptly proclaimed to be the "best fried chicken" that she'd ever had. I tried the cherry lambic-braised pork ribs. The ribs were tender and fell of the bone. I wasn't crazy about the taste of the whole cherries, but the meat itself was well complimented by lambic.
For sides, we order the traditional biscuits and honey and fried green tomatoes, and the not-so-traditional watermelon with chili and lime.
The biscuits and tomatoes were excellent but it was the watermelon that really caught us off guard. The coolness of the watermelon paired with the tartness of the lime and heat of the chili was delightfully unexpected and refreshing. Although summer is almost over, I definitely recommend trying this dish for your next BBQ or party.
Slowly, we began drifting in a blissful food coma. To avoid the embarrassment which would come from us curling up on the velvet cushions and nodding off to sleep, we decided to skip dessert in favor of an after dinner walk. The Redhead does offer a few options for your sweet tooth, including a bacon peanut brittle, which is quite popular and available for purchase to take home with you.
Next time you find yourself in the East Village and in search of a warm, inviting restaurant with delicious comfort food, you know where to go.
The cool peeps will be waiting for you.
The Redhead is located at 349 E. 13th (at 1st Ave)
Follow them on twitter at @theredheadnyc