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We had an amazing experience last night at Redwood. With less than 24 hours notice, Chef Antonio generously offered to prepare us a tasting menu to celebrate our 1st anniversary and my parents' 39th anniversary. Chef started us with an amuse of salmon, lobster, and shrimp terrine paired with winter radishes, fennel, oranges and a citrus mustard. The generous portion was larger than any amuse we'd ever seen but no complaints here because it was delicious- delicate and balanced, it was a great sign of things to come. The first course was a beautiful seared rare yellowfin tuna with scallops, japanese eggplant, gold ball turnips, and sunchokes with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Luckily, Chef had printed us personalized menus so I didn't have to remember every element of each dish. The peppery tuna complemented the balsamic reduction perfectly.

Next was my favorite course, housemade bratwurst & pork loin, with apples, amish sauerkraut, kielbasa broth and spicy mustard. Apples and pork are such a classic pairing but Chef really elevated this combination by using both cooked and raw apples. The loin was so tender I thought it was prepared sous vide but Chef said he brined it slightly to give it that supple mouth feel. The next course was a duo of ribeye and hangar steak with green tomato chutney, potato puree and a decadent foie gras sauce. We were all stuffed at this point but finished every last bite! The chutney's acidity cut the richness of the steak, foie sauce and buttery potatoes beautifully.

Chef has a strong sense for seasoning. Each course was flavorful and interesting, never salty or one-note. Chef served each course, giving us detailed explanations about the preparation and answering any questions we had. His passion for food and attention to detail and care he puts into every element is inspiring. Thank you Chef for making our anniversary dinner truly unforgettable!

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I was in for a quick bar snack last week.

So, just to set expectations, the menu hasn't changed at all yet. Not that this is BAD - the food there before was fine and well executed, just not a draw if you're not in the area.

From what I originally heard, he was rolling out a new bar menu at the end of this month. However, since this promotion says "preview of the new bar menu", I wonder if that's been delayed a bit.

A new dinner menu was not expected until later in March.

We're going to put the majority of Antonio's new bar menu items on early next week and transition completely on March 13th. Dinner menu changes still slated for late March.

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Hey Colin,

I'm one of the many here who'll definitely be heading up Redwood way to check this out soon. Very exciting.

Only if time permits, would you mind sharing just a few thoughts on why the full dinner menu will be more than a month away? I ask solely because I'm interested and suspect any detail you can share would be a bit educational for many here and drive respect and appreciation levels even higher for what you and other better restaurants do when bringing great chefs on board. What will happen to design and test the menu before it goes public?

Really looking forward to this. And thanks so much for engaging with the board here!

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Hey Colin,

I'm one of the many here who'll definitely be heading up Redwood way to check this out soon. Very exciting.

Only if time permits, would you mind sharing just a few thoughts on why the full dinner menu will be more than a month away? I ask solely because I'm interested and suspect any detail you can share would be a bit educational for many here and drive respect and appreciation levels even higher for what you and other better restaurants do when bringing great chefs on board. What will happen to design and test the menu before it goes public?

Really looking forward to this. And thanks so much for engaging with the board here!


I would be glad to answer this...

It breaks down in two mindsets on how you change over chefs and change the food.

One way to change chefs and menus is to do it as fast as possible. Like ripping off a band-aid. The idea being that the change has been needed for awhile and therefor the quicker the change over the better. This can often lead to rushed and incomplete menu ideas, poor execution and general chaos for all involved.

Another way to change chefs is to let them get acclimated to their surroundings, how the kitchen works, how the kitchen staff is, get to know what the likes and dislikes of the clientele are. I generally favor this method. What takes so long when you are talking about how we are approaching the revamping of the dinner menu is that we are extensively testing menu ideas and perfecting the recipes so they are consistent. We run the items as specials and have the servers solicit feedback. One of the biggest challenges that each chef faces when doing a new menu for an existing place is training the staff on cooking the new items, how they should taste, how they should be plated and whether or not the timing it takes to produce the dish is inline with the other dishes on the menu. It can be a fairly complicated process sometimes. Then after you have sorted out all of that, comes the seasonal consideration. We are testing and trying out new dishes with an eye towards spring, eagerly anticipating all the new produce that will come and that honestly is why it's taking so much longer than the bar menu. We are really just waiting to make the changes to fall in line with the seasons.
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Congrats Antonio on the new position, hope it serves you well. Who knew you were so well spoken, I've only ever heard you speak after a few too many Jameson's. Anyway brother wish you the best and ill be by to say hey.

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I would be glad to answer this...

It breaks down in two mindsets on how you change over chefs and change the food.

One way to change chefs and menus is to do it as fast as possible. Like ripping off a band-aid. The idea being that the change has been needed for awhile and therefor the quicker the change over the better. This can often lead to rushed and incomplete menu ideas, poor execution and general chaos for all involved.

Another way to change chefs is to let them get acclimated to their surroundings, how the kitchen works, how the kitchen staff is, get to know what the likes and dipslikes of the clientele are. I generally favor this method. What takes so long when you are talking about how we are approaching the revamping of the dinner menu is that we are extensively testing menu ideas and perfecting the recipes so they are consistent. We run the items as specials and have the servers solicit feedback. One of the biggest challenges that each chef faces when doing a new menu for an existing place is training the staff on cooking the new items, how they should taste, how they should be plated and whether or not the timing it takes to produce the dish is inline with the other dishes on the menu. It can be a fairly complicated process sometimes. Then after you have sorted out all of that, comes the seasonal consideration. We are testing and trying out new dishes with an eye towards spring, eagerly anticipating all the new produce that will come and that honestly is why it's taking so much longer than the bar menu. We are really just waiting to make the changes to fall in line with the seasons.

Wow! Don, how does one nominate a post for Post of the Year? :-) I LOVE this post; particularly that it's from a talented and crazily busy chef. Thanks so much, Chef Burrell. This is exactly what I was hoping to learn.

There are some obvious takeaways here for someone like me who appreciates good food, is informed (but far from expert) and, while well aware of Chef Burrell's great rep (and fried chicken!), has never had his food. Redwood is entering a totally new and much better era. The food here is likely to be pretty awesome. The news and future are exciting and very bright. That's all the great but obvious stuff.

Also obvious but worth noting is that Redwood's owners deserve a lot of credit for bringing in a chef like this and then allowing him to do his job. Go figure. :-)

Less obvious-but as exciting to me-is a set of values and business philosophy that is uncommon not just in restaurants but in the business world generally.

Chef's views on business things like:

- understanding and responding to customer needs

- listening first

- developing substantive and productive relationships with customers and colleagues

- training and coaching the others who can make or break a business irrespective of product excellence

- learning from and responding to mistakes in a customer-focused way

...are exemplary. No kidding, the stuff above is very interesting but also unusual and incredibly valuable. For restaurants, other businesses of any kind and even the world's largest companies, governments and non-profits.

Thanks again, Chef Burrell. Like so many others here who know you and your cuisine much better than I do, I can't wait to experience the new Redwood!

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psst... Antonio is making fried chicken! We'll have it for dinner tonight and tomorrow if it last that long.

That's great - where did you source the crack he needs for the batter? :D:D

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psst... Antonio is making fried chicken! We'll have it for dinner tonight and tomorrow if it last that long.

Doh, visit coming soon lol

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psst... Antonio is making fried chicken! We'll have it for dinner tonight and tomorrow if it last that long.

Geez--you're away unable to check the board for a day or two and this happens! Will the chicken ever appear again? :(

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Geez--you're away unable to check the board for a day or two and this happens! Will the chicken ever appear again? :(

Will have limited orders of dark or white with Mac n cheese and beans of some sort :-)

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I have never eaten in Bethesda, and know nothing about restaurants there, but my brother was at a conference at NIH and wanted to meet close to his hotel. I chose Redwood solely because I had read that Antonio was there on this site. The meal was solid, and the experience good. Living in DC-proper, I LOVED that the restaurant let 2 of us sit at the table when we arrived a half hour early - no "full parties only" rule. It was great to sit near the window, have a glass of wine and relax as we waited for my brother and uncle. I was trying to be healthy in advance of a trip to Italy tomorrow so I went with the spring salad and the black pea hummus. The spring salad was GREAT with ramps, asparagus, beets, etc. I could have eaten two more. The hummus was also delicious and came with cornichon, fresh veggies, olives, in addition to the normal pita bread, which I appreciated. All the others had burgers which they liked. All in all, a lovely evening.

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I owe you guys a writeup from a tasting menu that Antonio did for me a couple of weeks ago, but here's the headline:

Unbelievable dinner, and the pairings were excellent. Go here for the new menu, or ask (in advance) for a special menu, and be prepared to be blown away.

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well....after much to do and much hard work, both by me and my wonderful staff, we have overhauled the menu. Some of the more popular items we kept, especially at lunch, but it is mostly a new, revamped menu. I am pretty much an idiot when it comes to getting menu's posted to stuff like this but I am sure that they are posted on our website http://www.redwoodbethesda.com/menu.html

Hope to see familar faces, meet some new friends and most of all.....feed some happy people.

-A

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The lamb slider, on the HH menu for a mere $4, is the best deal in town. The burgers (I had two) were cooked to a perfect medium rare and the goat cheese added just the right amount of creaminess. It comes with chips but when I told the bartender I didn't want any on my second burger she offered to substitute it with a salad. Simple mixed lettuces and a few cherry tomatos, it was the perfect accompaniment. With tax and a generous tip dinner cost $12.

Extra props go to the bartender who realized that I was not in the mood for conversation and kept the annoying old guy sitting near me from trying one too many times to get my attention.

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Extra props go to the bartender who realized that I was not in the mood for conversation and kept the annoying old guy sitting near me from trying one too many times to get my attention.

Umm ... say hi next time. :unsure:

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Oh, SNAP!

All right, we're in. Gonna try to convince the missus to check it out today.

Umm ... say hi next time. :unsure:

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So I got to thinking that if I'm going to help a trend jump the shark, I better do it REAL FRICKIN BIG. so I did. Featured in the bar at redwood after 10pm till 11pm and only on Friday and Saturday nights we will be serving a Buttermilk fried chicken breast sandwich on a cornmeal Parmesan waffle with bacon maralade, maple mustard and sharp white cheddar. We are only making 20 a night, that's it. Get there early and reserve some space at the bar and reserve one early (that's a dr.com special hint) and help me make your tummies happy. :-D. I can't seem to figure out how to post a pic here so I'll let someone else post one, I know someone out there has already had one :-)

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I know someone out there has already had one :-)

Yeah, but I had version 1.0, which was a little different than what you posted above. Still awesome, though.

<photo credit to AGM>

467735_4851763453041_894706666_o.jpg

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Sad to say that Antonio is no longer at Redwood.

We still had a very nice dinner for 4 there last night, though I will say that there were a couple of small misfires that didn't happen when Antonio was in the kitchen. Our cocktails were fabulous, and appetizers were still all excellent: hushpuppies, wings, fried brussels sprouts, and the BLT salad were all just as I remembered them (though I would say that the salad, at $13 for a moderate portion, is overpriced).

Entrees were a bit more mixed. Fried chicken and mussels & fries were both excellent, though the mashed potatoes with the chicken were closer to whipped than mashed. Spring Orecchiette pasta was cooked perfectly, with a nice array of fresh spring vegetables. But there was almost no seasoning to be found, and the "lemon pea cream" managed to turn into a bland pesto. Fish of the day was an Alaskan Halibut with sesame noodles and shredded vegetables. An otherwise excellent dish was slightly overcooked, and not a bargain at $30.

Desserts, a banana split and peach empanadas, were both excellent (disclaimer: comped by the manager who recognized us.)

I'd go back in a heartbeat for apps and drinks at the bar, but I'd want to see some more consistency with entrees out of the kitchen before I can endorse it as a destination again.

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That bites. What was that - 6?months? Sound like they also might have either downgraded or don't actually have a replacement yet? This is an expensive location to not to be getting this right after being there for a while.

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Has anyone been in the past two years that can comment? Since Chef Burrell left? Recently?

This place has had so much churn and turmoil over since opening it's very tough to keep track of what's going on and whether worthwhile to visit.

Help please. Muchas gracias. :-)

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I went several months ago and thought it was decent.  The tuna tartare was very enjoyable.

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