This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Neal Fraser's Redbird, one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the decade. Gold describes the restaurant located within the deconsecrated cathedral Vibiana as a "grand pleasure machine" with dishes that nod to the "big California restaurants of the 1980s and 1990s:"
When you sit down, you are greeted with what the waiters call an "amuse booze,'' a tiny, bitters-infused aperitif that recalls the Road Kill shots Fred Eric used to serve at his old Vida. The Dungeness crab soup, flavored to recall the chicken-coconut soup tom kha kai, is the kind of thing you might have seen at the mid-'90s restaurant Boxer, where you also might have seen a young Fraser on the line in his CIA baseball cap. Fraser likes smoke, chiles and farmers market vegetables; lingering tartness and mild funkiness; odd cross-cultural flavors like sumac, lemon grass and yuzu kosho; little crunchy things and lots of salt. If you accompanied him to a Japanese izakaya, you would probably let him order. [LAT]
While some of the food is "occasionally forgettable," Gold ends a rather neutral review delighted by the barbecued tofu and namesake Veal Fraser.