Coral Tree Cafe just surprised me in a big way. Both the Brentwood and Encino locations have always served as my mid-way meet and eat places to catch up with friends. It’s easy to grab coffee or a casual meal. Little did I know that Red Room Food and Wine Bar, huddled next to Encino’s Coral Tree, was the company’s latest concept. The eatery quietly opened this summer, but with my curiosity piqued after driving by numerous times, I finally checked it out last week.
Red Room Food and Wine Bar is a sophisticated departure from the woodsy Coral Tree style. The restaurant is only a little longer than the length of a bar. It has a dimly lit, cozy ambiance with a wall of upholstered banquettes in reddish tones and chairs on the opposite side. It’s a tiny space with a handful of tables and seating at the bar. Windows open up to outside seating. There’s a wall of wine bottles behind the bar and a giant chalkboard.
The menu consists of tapas, salads, flatbreads and big plates—with various mediterranean influences. It’s creative, but not overly ambitious— which is sure to please a variety of palates. To make dining more fun, everything can be shared. My dining partner and I decided to skip the big plates, which included braised beef short ribs, pan roasted salmon and New Zealand lamb chops, and go for the smaller plates.
We started with a panzanella salad made with persian cucumbers, yellow heirloom and cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, red onions, freshly made croutons and tossed in a olive oil lemon dressing. It was very light with a lively mix of flavors. Next was the proscuitto and tomato crostini topped with shaved parmesan. I expected tomato slices and this was more of a sauce—yet still tasty. The iron skillet meatballs did indeed come in a small skillet mixed in a savory sauce of almonds, shallots and brandy. Last up was the flat bread with mozzarella, goat and fontina cheeses generously topped with arugula. My intention was to eat just one piece, but I ended up eating more than half my share. The combination of the cheeses with the spicy arugula made it an irresistible combination.
The rest of the menu includes a charcuterie plate, cheese plate, warm olives, brandied mushrooms, artichoke salad, baby beet salad and a kale salad. We passed on dessert, but the choices looked tempting, especially the salted caramel cheesecake.
The wine menu includes over 50 wines from around the world. Order by the glass or the bottle. Some varieties offer both a 2.5 and 6 ounce pour. There’s also a selection of beers on tap and craft beers, as well as prosecco and champagne.
Red Room is the perfect place to meet up for a quiet drink and a bite or a full fledged dinner. If you didn’t know you were on Ventura Blvd, you might think you were in a mod, yet quaint bar/restaurant somewhere else in the world. Nice.
The Red Room Food and Wine Bar is open 4 p.m. -10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. -11 p.m. on weekends, and closed on Mondays. Happy hour is 4-7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Zardetto Prosecco Brut (Italy), Leyda Classic Reserve Chardonay (Chile), and Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa) are all $5 a glass. Corona, Amstel and Heinekens are only $4. It is located at 17499 Ventura Blvd. in Encino.