Red House is perfectly pitched at its Chelsea clientele, sandwiched as it is between King's Road and Sloane Square. A relaxed brasserie with a funky décor, they already have a loyal following. And with good reason.
Red isn’t the easiest colour to pull off – especially in Chelsea where white marble dominates. However, Red House has managed to play up to its namesake without veering into trashiness. You certainly can’t miss the exterior of this large, corner-positioned building. The bold, glossy black finish is punctuated by vibrant red canopies that hang over the street, resplendent with the gold lettering of the signage and the large key that makes up its logo. Inside, the space includes a dining room and cocktail bar and the red theme continues with red banquette seating and wooden red-seated chairs set around larger circular tables. Red House, indeed.
Even Chelsea’s brasseries have a fine-dining edge to service – it is expected, after all, in an area where sports cars and multi-million pound houses dominate. Red House is no different. Although the staff are friendly and welcoming with a distinct brasserie style to the space, you are still well looked after with constant topping-up of your wine glass and questions about whether you’re enjoying yourself. Thankfully it avoids veering into being just plain annoying.
Respected New York chef John de Lucie takes the helm at Red House with a brasserie menu of English/modern European-influenced American favourites. There’s nothing overly innovative about the menu but there is a focus on flavour, which is clear in all of the dishes.
Starters on the concise menu include Chelsea green asparagus (£11) alongside roasted baby beets with French feta (£9) and even a Japanese yellowfish tuna tartare (£11). It’s a rather odd, and slightly confused, mix but it’s certainly enticing.
Where the menu really comes into its own is with their choice of fresh pasta dishes and meat-focused entrées. They offer mac and cheese (£15), for example, served with Montgomery cheddar, or sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi (£16), which is the stand out dish on the pasta section. The gnocchi is clearly homemade with a soft, crumbly consistency and a light ricotta flavour, with depth given to the creaminess courtesy of the tangy sheep’s milk. The dish also contains soft fava beans which have been perfectly seasoned to lift their flavour but not overpower the lightness of the dish. This is further heightened by fresh mint, and the whole dish is brought together by bits of speck (a prosciutto-style ham). It’s well portioned, packed full of flavour and delicious. The only negative is that it's perhaps at slightly too high a price point, given that it’s a pasta dish.
If you prefer a meat entrée then Red House offers a good choice of USDA beef. If you don’t want to splash out £28 for the steak then the burger offers good value, though it's still not cheap (by any stretch) at £21. The fat burger isn’t constrained by Westminster’s crazy rule about medium-rare burgers so you can enjoy the patty cooked so it’s pink and juicy. It’s served with a - frankly - delicious smoked cheddar which stands up well to the strong flavour of the beef, as well as the bacon and homemade pickles. The only downside to this dish is that it’s not served with fries – for that you need to pay an additional £4 for skin-on chips.
The drink menu is split across cocktails in the bar (where you can also buy more reasonably-priced food, including a mini burger for £5.50) and an excellent wine menu in the restaurant proper. This is a menu that adds an innovative twist to the usual selection with the sommelier recommending sherry as an aperitif - there's a great selection by the glass covering Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado and Palo Cortado (£5-£15). They also try to inform customers of wines different from the standard grapes, offering recommendations to encourage you to try new grape varieties.
The Last Word
Red House isn’t the cheapest brasserie in London, but this is Chelsea dahling, so £21 for a burger with no sides is near enough the norm. Where it really earns its Brownie points is in the fantastic wine menu – a menu that isn’t afraid to take risks and encourage you to follow suit.