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Besha Rodell Unpacks Red Herring’s Neighborhood Restaurant Conundrum

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It’s not an easy restaurant to define

Red Herring
Wonho Frank Lee

This week, Besha Rodell analyzes all that must go into a neighborhood restaurant in her review of Eagle Rock’s Red Herring. The Weekly critic finds the restaurant hard to define, asking, “is it a neighborhood spot? A destination? A family restaurant? A venue for sophisticated, high-cost special occasions? It might be trying to be all of these things.”

The confusion can be seen in the classic New American menu that has some surprisingly well executed dishes:

That is to say, there are crabcakes on the menu. They're big and made with lump blue crab and served with basil aioli, and they're kind of surprisingly good, better, perhaps, than they need to be. That's true for a lot of the food here — many items are made with the kind of care and skill you don't normally find at a neighborhood restaurant. [LAW]

Unfortunately, aside from empty window seats that make the restaurant look perpetually empty, there is something that is “not quite clicking at Red Herring”:

It's the tricky neighborhood-restaurant equation with which Red Herring seems to be struggling. It's not anywhere near cheap enough to make for an easy Tuesday-night dinner. The crabcakes appetizer is $18, the pork chop is $32. There are reasons for that expense. The ingredients are high quality, and there are touches that give the place an extra serving of glamour, such as beautiful vintage-style glassware and a lovely drinks list.

But it's not quite special enough to qualify as thrilling on a citywide level. So it presents a few conundrums: The food is better than it needs to be but it also costs a lot; it isn't quite family-friendly enough but it isn't quite exciting enough either. It makes me understand all the impossible things we demand of our neighborhood restaurants. [LAW]

B. Rod concludes that with slightly cheaper prices and a full-looking dining room, Red Herring might be “less confusing to its intended audience.” The Eagle Rock eatery scores two stars out of five.

Red Herring

770 South Grand Avenue, , CA 90017 (213) 375-3290 Visit Website