Red Room Tavern 

On the plate of Reviewer No. 1

Inside Red Room Tavern, with its underground dance-club-esque cherry colored walls and chrome-and-black furniture is a crazy menu with the words "NINJA BBQ" across the front. It includes painstakingly hand-rubbed, slow-cooked meats at one end, sushi at the other and a melange of items in between, such as chocolate ganache cake, cheddar/Swiss/parm cheese and mac or an artichoke/pesto gruyere dip. Just as I was feeling unable to settle on something, I saw a big, bold, black box announcing "$1.95 HAPPY HOURS!"

From 3-6 p.m., seven days, if you dine in, don't substitute and order a cocktail, you can scoop up one, two or all of the eight items listed for $1.95: Ninja BBQ roll, Dragonslayer sushi roll, Northender roll, mesquite wings, pulled pork slider, tempura bacon strip--what?--hummus and pita, and tempura pickle chips--what the what? My happy-hour date ordered a margarita ($5), so we qualified for entrance into the "under two bills a dish" club. I ordered one of each except for hummus (I recently overdid it and have a hummus hangover).

Before the marg was half gone, our little round table was covered by a strange combination of cold, spicy sushi and greasy, fried finger foods. We each snagged a long strip and bit into the fried bacon. Chewy slices covered in slightly sweet dough--waffle marks and dripping oil giving away the deep-fryer cooking method--were a weird and wonderful mix and tasted like a bacon donut. If Red Room marketed them as "bacon beignets" and sold them by the half-dozen, they'd make a fortune.

The tightly rolled Dragonslayer's jalapeno, scallions and sriracha aioli snuck up on us like black-clad fighters, while the Northender roll was an unremarkable mix of avo, cream cheese, carrot and cucumber. But the Ninja BBQ roll gave us pause. Tempura-dipped, seaweed-wrapped pulled pork, coleslaw and a crispy yam fry topped with a dot of wasabi had a less confusing flavor than I expected although the sapor of seaweed and honeyed barbecue sauce would have been stronger without the batter.

Our sociable, solicitous server told us that the deep-fried dill plate hit the menu about two months ago and quickly became a very popular item. It will be with me, too. Last summer, I ordered a deep-fried pickle at the fair. A giant whole kosher covered in painfully hard cornmeal was impossible to bite through; the chunks that fell to the ground revealed a hot, mushy mess inside. But Red Room's dilly slices were covered in the same soft tempura coating and were a little crunchy, a little springy and a lot delicious. We were knuckle-deep in barbecue sauce from the heavenly pork slider and mesquite wings before we admitted defeat and threw our orange-spotted paper napkins down.

Red Room's menu is a study in randomness and pleasant surprises. If you like staid and stuffy, don't go there.

--Amy Atkins loves a little disorder in her orders.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Red Room Tavern.

Pin It

Speaking of Red Room Tavern


Comments are closed.

More by Amy Atkins

Submit an Event

Today's Pick

Autumn Art Show

© 2018 Boise Weekly

Website powered by Foundation