Located on a busy strip of Madison Rd. in Oakley, Red Feather Kitchen is a restaurant that entices your entry. And once inside the former Boca venue, you'll find a newly transformed dining hot spot. I've eaten at Red Feather twice since its opening in late Dec. 2013 — both on Sundays, once in the bar and once in the dining room. The atmosphere is fine casual, which means you can expect premier food quality in a casual environment.
It only takes one look at the menu to know that co-owners and chefs, Brad Bernstein and Brett Crowe, are serious about their craft. There is a block quote that blares:
"This is a scratch kitchen. Everything is made here in house."
Crowe comes with C.I.A. (Culinary Institute of America) credentials and a resume that includes the former Maisonette, Jean-George's Vongerichten's Spice Market in New York and London, as well as Everest in Chicago. Bernstein hails from the BB Riverboats family, including the Mike Fink Restaurant. That's actually how Red Feather gets its name. Fink is a semi-popular riverboat figure best known for the red feather in his cap — but they didn't call it macaroni. The third owner in the group is Devon Barrett, a Level II Sommelier.
Our table ordered the charcuterie board to start. Gone were the familiar thinly cured meats and names that I knew, like sopressata and capacola, and in its place were items I can only imagine Mrs. Patmore whipping up (e.g. meat pate, duck prosciutto, and pureed chicken liver). I'm an adventurous eater. Thus, I'm usually down for jumping off a 10-foot cliff, but this one felt more like a 25-footer.
Thankfully, the beet salad and a stab at the neighboring humbolt fog with field greens were able to wash away the taste of chicken liver. The salads were beautiful in color and satiating in taste. And while I appreciated the large chunks of varied beets hugging the honey yogurt, I could have gone for a little more arugula to counteract the sweetness.
For my entree I enjoyed the roasted chicken. Alongside the succulent breast were charred kale sprouts (yum) and hopi blue corn polenta. The polenta wasn't quite flavorful enough to make up for its pot-of-porridge look on the plate. Perhaps a sprinkling of cheese or venturing toward a different starch entirely could make that dish a homerun.
Two of the other guests at my table were hoping to order the fava bean agnolotti, but it'd already been 86'd. In its place they tried the crispy skin salmon and the potato gnocchi. The salmon is quite good and crispy — just as the menu suggests. The accompanying shiitake shrooms, zucchini and bok choy, however, taste a lil' saucy with the soy bourbon glaze. It's hitting the right balance of flavor without venturing into the land of doused veggies. The gnocchi I only had a sampling of so I can't really comment, but it looked divine.
Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't conclude with a note on the service. While I never grabbed his name, let's call our server the charmingly handsome Ted, because he embodied that laid-back Keanu Reeves vibe.
Although the dining room and kitchen were slammed, made clear by the lag time between orders going in and plates coming out, Ted always arrived at our table with a smile and an eagerness to please. My favorite line of the night — after he'd seen me mulling over a few cocktail options — was, "I can't wait to hear what you picked." Granted it was a line (and it's his job) but not everyone can deliver one with such authenticity.
Oh, and it was the delightful Kentucky Preakness. In case you, too, were curious about the drink I chose.
Red Feather Kitchen is located at 3200 Madison Rd. 45209. For more information, visit the website: http://www.redfeatherkitchen.com/.