DOWNERS GROVE – The name on the outside says Redhouse Bar & Grill, and the way my companion and I were treated on a recent dinner excursion was nothing short of a red-letter dining experience.
A friendly employee opened the front door for us, and we were seated immediately in a booth by a window and handed our menus.
As we perused the appetizers, which included cuisine from all corners of the globe – calamari, bruschetta, shrimp and cheddar grits, chicken quesadilla – we took in the decor. A spacious three-sided bar is backed by an impressive shelving unit that almost looks like a huge honeycomb extending to the ceiling. High-top tables, regular tables, booths, outdoor seating and a private party room provide plenty of options for groups of all sizes.
Our server, Kaley, was enthusiastic about taking good care of us, and about our choice of Mexican potato skins for our starter, which she remarked is among her favorites. A few minutes later, we were digging into five crispy skins piled high with a Mexican cheese blend, chicken chorizo, jalapeños and green onion, and a few minutes after that we joined the clean plate club.
A wide selection of 10-ounce burger options, including a chili cheeseburger loaded with house chili, cheddar sauce and caramelized onions, got our mouths watering, and the choices got even better as we went further down the menu.
After some hemming and hawing, I settled on a Cuban sandwich served on a torta rather than French loaf, and my companion chose the teriyaki chicken. We both had eyes for the pulled pork mac and cheese, which included a four-cheese blend, smoked paprika and crushed crackers on top. I also had been considering a crispy chicken buffalo wrap and the IBC root beer-braised beef tip sandwich.
My companion's dish had two grilled chicken breasts slathered with a tangy teriyaki sauce and garnished with a grilled pineapple ring, the tastes creating an absolute explosion of flavor. A wild rice blend and green beans were the perfect sides.
Honey ham, honey mustard and the torta are different from the regular ham, yellow mustard and French loaf of a traditional Cuban sandwich, but Redhouse's take on the dish was a welcome deviation. Rich Swiss cheese and tart and crunchy pickles were nice complements to the other flavors, and the hand-cut fries on the side were seasoned well and cooked to perfection.
The generous portions on our entrees meant my companion and I had plenty of leftovers, and we both agreed that they reheated well and tasted just as delicious the next day.
Even though we each ate about half of what was on our plates, we really wanted to indulge in dessert. Both the flourless chocolate cake and gelato sounded tasty, but in the end we picked the chocolate chip cookie sundae. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel drizzles was served on top of a crunchy square cookie for a great mix of flavors.
The Redhouse initially opened as Keystone Bar & Grill before it closed for a time to undergo changes to the menu. Based on this Mystery Diner's experience, Redhouse should be a mainstay for a long time to come.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.