[Updated: May 21, 2014]
I’ve wanted to check out Red Lantern since my roommate went there this past winter and told me they had a gluten free menu. It is on the pricier side so it hasn’t been on the top of my “Must Try’’ list until I saw this Living Social Deal; $30 for $60 worth of food and non-alcoholic drink. (The deal is available to purchase until June 2, 2014 and doesn’t expire until September 4, 2014. )
We had a great time at Red Lantern last night, the food and drinks were delicious but the restaurant itself has a bit of an identity crisis going on. It doesn’t know if it’s a bar, a lounge, a restaurant, a sushi bar, or a chefs table. Whichever kind of experience you want to have, you can do that here. But, the design is smart, breaking up such a large open space into smaller spaces with different seating plans. I loved the decor – red lanterns, Buddhas and stone statues – and red accents throughout the restaurant. But it was LOUD. Why must restaurants make the music so loud during dinnertime?
So our initial thoughts on the restaurant were so so but once we sat down and took our first bite of food, our attitude changed quickly. The ambiance might not be perfect, but the food is creative, delicious and flavorful. I was impressed with the number of options on the gluten free menu. The chef was also willing to make a gluten free sauce to go with the Halibut special.
We sat at the open kitchen right in front of the wok station. For an appetizer we shared the Chicken Lettuce Wrap ($14) The chicken is stir-fried is a sticky sauce (thickened with cornstarch) with chilies and vegetables and served with baby iceberg lettuce in which to wrap the filling. It also comes with a Hoisin and spicy plum sauce, heavy on the spicy! The dish is fun to share or could easily be a meal for one.
The signature cocktail list is pricey but worth a try. Using quality ingredients they have created Asian inspired drinks from regular classics, such as the Lychee Martini ($14) and Shanghai Street Sangria ($11). I opted for the Lantern Tea with Southern Comfort, Grand Marnier, Fresh Citrus and Tea ($11) and Jeremy had the Grass-Fed Mule, their twist on a Moscow Mule, made with Lemongrass infused cross vodka, fresh lime and ginger beer ($11). Moscow Mules have always been a favorite cocktail of mine, but there is something about the lemongrass and lime that made this drink a stand out.
For dinner we shared two entrees. I ordered the Scallop Fried Rice ($15). Fresh wok fried rice, cooked to order with egg, scallion, sesame oil, bean sprouts and vegetables. There is no soy sauce and it was not missed. This was one of the best fried rice dishes I’ve had in a long time. It was both flavorful and light.
We also shared the Wood Grilled Miso Sea Bass ($33), which is served with Japanese Eggplant and Smokey Bok Choy. The fish was tasty and buttery, but the sauce was too heavy on the miso paste. It overwhelmed the fish that was otherwise cooked beautifully. The dish is also served with baby bok choy and a side of Jasmine rice.
We could see our fried rice being made right in front of us, which was really cool! Once the chef was told it was gluten free, he moved the soy sauce aside so not to accidently add it. He moves so fast with the wok and adding ingredients, so that was a great move and reassuring that they know how to handle gluten allergies. Food runners ran our food and it was reassuring when they said it was gluten free. When we received our bill it also said “Gluten Allergy”, again another assurance that from ordering to cooking to serving, every step of the way the chefs and runners knew it was a gluten free meal.
In addition to the hot dishes Red Lantern’s gluten free menu also offers plenty of creative sushi rolls, traditional maki and sashimi platters.
So Red Lantern may have an identity crisis but it’s food is top notch. It would be a great place for a girl’s night out or a fun date night. And don’t forget you can get a great deal from Living Social here.
To save even more (20%) use promo code MEMWKND14 at checkout!
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