Red Herring, the long-awaited Eagle Rock restaurant from Dave and Alexis Martin Woodall, sets out to bridge the gap between relaxed neighborhood dining and night-out fanciness.
The building's unfinished-wood façade and big glass windows lean more toward trendy than your average local haunt. A waiting area with plush velvet teal couches greets you, and the dimly lit dining room sports vintage wallpaper and midcentury modern light fixtures. A bar in the middle of the room is lined with polished bentwood stools and backed with a full-length mirror.
While the decor is decidedly glam, you'll feel a more homey vibe when you sit down. Guests at each table are greeted with the couple's sincere welcome letter, detailing their mission to be a neighborhood restaurant, with an intention to please. It's a humble touch, and particularly refreshing coming from a chef who's spent time working under L.A. greats such as Josiah Citrin and Marshall Blair.
The menu is composed of comfort dishes designed to make everyone happy — chicken and waffles, blue crab cakes with romesco and basil aioli, ricotta agnolotti, braised short rib.
Yam fritters with herbed green goddess dressing and a shaved root-vegetable salad with smoked cod and a bright lemon-caper vinaigrette are a great intro to the meal. On our visit, we followed those starters with two satisfying mains: Channel Islands butterfish with runner beans, house-made bacon, radishes and tomato broth and the short rib, served with polenta, grilled leek soubise and bordelaise sauce.
Most dishes hit the mark, but as with any new spot, there are a few that require a bit more tweaking. One in particular is the pig's ears, which could use a different sauce than the one on our visit.
One thing you should never do at Red Herring is pass on dessert. Like the rest of the menu, the offerings are homespun and familiar — cheesecake with macerated strawberries, brownie sundae with homemade vanilla ice cream, fudge sauce and whipped cream, and a seasonal fruit galette with burnt-honey ice cream.
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The restaurant lacks a full liquor license at the moment, but you can grab a creative cocktail made with a base of beer or sherry. You can opt to eat at the bar or along the back wall, but the best place in the house to snag a seat can be found by climbing the golden art deco–inspired staircase that leads to the second floor, an open room with an oversized window, opened on balmy evenings, offering a full-on indoor/outdoor ambiance, perfect for a date night or hanging with a group of friends.
Don't be misled by its design — Red Herring is successfully serving delicious, approachable food with comfortable style.
661 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 739-0004, redherringla.com.