Sometimes you have to live in a neighborhood to find the gems hidden behind the fast food chains and drugstores. My friends David & Krista discovered Red Hill as they walked around, and it has become their favorite spot (and it is literally hidden behind a fast food chain and a drugstore). The area is called Red Hill because in the 1950's many artists and left wing liberals congregated here, and back in those days, they were called "Reds" or Communists. Whatever your political views, your palate will thank-you for a foray into this wonderfully welcoming place which features inventive and market driven plates for very reasonable prices (average $40 per person for 2-3 plates with drinks & gratuity).
The starter plate of house made pickled vegetables and home made butter was a harbinger of great things to come from the open kitchen. All the vegetables, from the red onions to the spicy cauliflower had a slightly different pickling mixture that ranged from spicy to slightly sweet. The home made butter was so good we asked for more of the dense chewy bread so we could finish it.
Krista had the burrata salad with pesto, beet greens and carrots. The burrata was freshly made and the combination worked well as the burrata added a smooth mellowing counterpoint to the spicy greens and strong pesto.
Four of us split two orders of the venison meatballs and all of us loved the flavors of this appetizer even though a few bites had nearly too much red pepper, we all ate like addicts, unable to stop regardless of any pain we experienced. If they would have mixed the red pepper in more evenly or simply used less, we would have been even more addicted.
The only disappointing dish of the evening was the salad with radishes, Marcona almonds and Meyer lemon dressing. It was actually only the vinaigrette which weakened this dish; it was too salty without any complexity and a bit too much acidity.
Everyone loved Krista's choice of main dish, the pappardelle with pork ragu and goat cheese agnolotti. The light pasta was perfectly done, and the fresh zucchini, peas and pork all contributed their own texture and flavor to this perfect dish. If you order only one thing here, order this dish!
I chose the bone in pork chop which was served with pureed squash and sauteed greens. The flavors of the accompaniments were all perfect, and the presentation was beautiful, but my pork chop was a bit overdone and dry. It was not bad, but it was not great either. David said that when he ordered this dish, his chop had been thicker and less dry, so perhaps I will try this again some other night.
Robin ordered the roasted chicken, which was moist, full of flavor, and served with some of the best collard greens I have ever tasted.
David's duck with cherries was spectacular, with crisp skin, moist meat, and beautifully tart cherries. If you love duck, order it here, and if you have never tried duck, try it here.
Somehow we managed to find some room for dessert, so we chose to share two of them. The meringue and sorbet with tart cherry sauce was a refreshing way to finish a meal. The meringue was not baked long enough to give structure, so the texture was a bit rubbery, but overall, this was very nice.
The favorite of both the dessert connoisseurs was the orange flan with chocolate dipped candied orange peel. It was a thick smooth rendition of a classic with a slight twist.
Whether you want to explore a historically famous neighborhood, visit friends, or simply eat a great meal after a Dodger game, head over to Red Hill and you'll hit a home run.