In an exciting part two of NEO Food Tours’ Battle for Battery Park, we continued to the next competitor, only a block away from Battery Park Wine Bar. Reddstone is a “watering hole and grub hub” with a great outdoor patio that’s a blast in the summer. It’s completely hidden from the street, which I love. Of course in February, we weren’t going to the patio. The evening’s events were hosted upstairs in a dimly lit private room with its own bar and stage. With probably around forty people on the tour, plus the hosts for the evening, Ramon Rivas and Todd Gauman, and another half dozen or so guest judges, the room was pretty packed. The lack of lighting was great for atmosphere, but made it tough to really appreciate the beauty of the food. So I had to use the flash for the pictures, which I hate doing…but you can get the idea.
The space was much more intimate than Battery Park Wine Bar, but that wasn’t such a bad thing. There was a small raised stage to the side, which allowed the comedians to be right next to the audience. There’s a possibility they were a bit too close – story to follow.
The scallop at Reddstone was exceptional. It was cooked perfectly; brown on the outside but soft and smooth, almost buttery inside. The crown of bacon was a special treat, and the real rock star of this dish was the sauce. It was exceptional in texture and flavor and complimented the other flavors on the plate. This scallop literally melted in your mouth.
By the time the hanger steak rolled around at Reddstone, my appetite was definitely starting to slow. The steak was full of flavor, and for someone who loves incredibly rare beef, this would have been great. But, for me, it was a bit too rare. The sauce was lovely and the flavors were absolutely on point, but by now I was just too full to force down a large and (for me) undercooked piece of meat. I do realize it was the chef’s intention to serve the meat this way, and probably some people were loving this preparation.
With all the libations throughout the evening – (every course at each restaurant was paired with a special cocktail) – it’s difficult to remember exactly when the comedy snafu of the evening actually occurred. But I believe it happened somewhere between the entree and dessert. As I mentioned in my post about Reddstone’s competitor, Battery Park Wine Bar, for Barb Abbott and I, the food was the main draw for the evening. Personally speaking, comedy shows are a mixed bag; I’ve seen good ones, and I’ve seen terrible ones, you never really know what you’re going to get unless you’ve seen the comedians before. But never could we have prepared for what was going to happen next.
You see, the comedian at Reddstone, whose name I can’t remember, was a bit on the crude/male chauvinist side. It seemed the majority of his material put women (in some form) at the butt of the joke. Well, one brazen (and slightly inebriated) female in the audience, sitting directly in front of the stage, stated quite simply, so that others would hear, “hey, take it easy on the ladies” – or something to that effect. Well as you might have guessed, BIG mistake. It was like poking the fire. Now the jokes not only targeted women, they were directed specifically at her. What happened next is somewhat of a blur. All I can say is words were exchanged, middle fingers were thrown, insults flew. Mind you, the comedian is still on the stage with the microphone, and the woman is basically an innocent (albeit intoxicated) audience member, probably a foodie, presumably here to have a good time and not be humiliated publicly. Surely this was not on her evening’s agenda. So the scene escalated until the final blow, when the comedian called the woman the-ultimate-word-that-you-never-call-a-woman. Yes, in front of a room full of people, most of whom were, yep, also women. At this point, said female stood up, and basically demanded that the comedian get off the stage, at which point Ramon Rivas, host and apparently part-time mediator, approached the stage to smooth the situation. WOW, now this was a first.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one relieved to see Mr. Woman Hater exit the stage. Meanwhile, we still had an entire dessert course to get through. Down to the finish line, the last and final dish of the evening was served: a signature Reddstone chocolate morsel referred to as the “Chocolate Bomb.”
I was perplexed when the plate arrived. It was a small serving, about the size of a golf ball. I’m a huge dessert fan, so naturally I questioned the portion. BUT. The first bite was like a fireworks display of pure unbridled chocolate. BOOM. The inside was a rich, smooth, almost truffle-like consistency. Coming from someone who’s prone to skip the pure chocolate desserts because the sweetness is just overload, this was NOT too much. It was, quite simply, a chocolate lover’s dream.
At this point, we cast our ballots for each course, scallop appetizer, hanger steak, and chocolate dessert. Meanwhile, one of the judges, Chef Chris Hodgson of the famous CLE food trucks Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge was interviewed which was a fun surprise.
The consensus (in our area of the room anyway) seemed to be that Reddstone’s scallop topped Battery Park Wine Bar’s version, but BPWB’s hanger steak came out victorious. So it all came down to the dessert round. Drum roll…….(anxious anticipation)…….and Reddstone’s chocolate bomb came out the winner, making Reddstone the champion of the Battle. I must confess, that little bomb was special, but for me it was all about the brownie at BPWB, mainly because the chef broke up the chocolate with some other components, plus the presentation absolutely killed.
All in all, a fabulous event! Both restaurants were winners in my book. And props to Ramon Rivas for getting us past the awkward train wreck that was the comedy!