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Passionate Neighbors

| August 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

by David Rottenberg

All restaurants serve food, in one form or another. Two local restaurants do more. They infuse their dishes with passion. And, to make it easy to enjoy both the restaurants, they are located next door to each other.

The two are Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge and its neighbor, The Red Door, located on Washington Street, just a few minutes from Highway 5. But, even though they are both owned by the same owners, have the same chef and share a common kitchen, they are very different from each other.

The Red Door looks and feels like a transplanted San Francisco bistro, full of light and comfort. The walls are off-white, the tables and booths are cozy, the staff is friendly and attentive, and the ambiance is decidedly casual. By contrast, The Wellington is more formal, dark and romantic, with dim chandeliers casting light and shadows against dark booths and the twinkling bar. Both restaurants are small but The Wellington is the much smaller of the two. However, The Wellington is given the illusion of size and depth through the use of floor to ceiling mirrors that seemingly double its interior size.

The bottom line — it is recommended to plan ahead and reserve at either restaurant. Seating often fills up quickly. Given the quality of the cuisine, the effort pays off.

The restaurants are both owned by Tom and Trish Wadlington, who determined a number of years ago to offer only healthful, fresh and sustainable foods in both restaurants. This became their passion that they implemented through their own resources and by enlisting a team of local suppliers who provide wonderful, ripe and tasty fruits and vegetables and meats — free of pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Trish Watlington is not only an owner but the business farmer. At her home, she maintains a large garden where she grows many of the items that ultimately appear on the plates of appreciative diners. This is beyond “farm to table.” In a sense, it represents “home to table.”

To make their concept a reality, the Watlingtons brought in Karrie Hills as executive chef. She is highly trained, very experienced, amazingly creative and deeply passionate about serving only the freshest and the finest to her guests.

Naturally, menus in both restaurants change with the season, to showcase items and dishes that permit diners to experience peaks of flavor. Hills enjoys using the menus to educate her diners about what is good, what is healthful.

The Wellington offers dishes like prime rib and, of course, beef Wellington. To make beef Wellington, the chef places foie gras and a mushroom blend on top of tenderloin, wraps it all in a puff pastry, then bakes it to create a uniquely flavorful dish.

Sweetbreads are available as are “bacon and eggs” — two perfectly poached small quail eggs with bacon, herbs and spices to create an appetizer that really wakes up the tastebuds. Hills loves to work with a wide array of spices to liven up her dishes.

The Pork Tenderloin came bone-in, perfectly prepared. Accompanied with the best “mac and cheese” I’ve enjoyed in a very long time — real wonderful cheese, not a cheese paste — it is a perfect “comfort dish” with which to chase away the hunger blues.
There is a creative dessert menu and, on the light side, Hills created a delicious parfait of creme fraiche into which she embedded berries, nuts and a dash of sweet maple syrup.

The “farm to table” approach to cuisine is more clearly expressed at The Red Door, whose menu even topped by the image of a chicken, undoubtedly range free. The dishes are much less formal and lighter. Four salads are featured and even the entrees are much more casual.

For example, the Red Door salad includes garden fruit or vegetable of the moment. You may not know what you’re getting but it will be fresh. The Artisan cheese plate includes seasonal fruit and homemade Red Door garden jam. The grilled garden vegetable lasagna is made with Chef Karrie’s hand-crafted garden kale pasta. What could be more hands on!

The point — fresh and tasty veggies are a strong element in the dishes conceived and prepared by Chef Hills, providing good, healthful and satisfying fare to her guests. There is a lot of good food being prepared at the corner of Washington and Falcon.
Casual or formal? The choice is yours. But, whichever is selected, the dining is excellent. Reservations are recommended. The Wellington is located at 729 W. Washington St. Call (619) 295-6001. The Red Door is located at 741 W. Washington St. Call 619-295-6000.

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Category: Local News