By Christopher A. Pape
If you remember my recent story on RedFarm, you’ll know how I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner there at their West Village location. So when the call came to taste the menu at their second location on the Upper West Side, I was stoked.
For there are few places in the city, which elicit the joy and pleasure as a meal at RedFarm – from start to finish we loved every bite and it is safe to say that anything you order will be consumed with gusto.
RedFarm brings a greenmarket sensibility to modern and inventive Chinese food combined with a décor that can’t be beat. While the menu offers many similar options as the downtown location, there are some specifically for this newer incarnation. My guest and I thoroughly enjoyed one of our first spoonsful – a hot and sour soup with grilled shrimp. Here Chinese flavors were full throttled and we loved the plump, juicy shrimp, which also added texture to the dish.
From the old menu we loved each savory mouthful of the spicy crispy beef to the sweet goodness of the mango panna cotta and it didn’t hurt that the staff – hipsters and trendsetters – were friendly, helpful and interesting to talk to. Or that the space itself – almost a replica of the downtown location – with its communal table, moody lightening and rustic charm – was the perfect setting to enjoy the wildly popular creations of chefs Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld. Now Upper West Siders can say with confidence that they are as cool as their fellow Manhattanites in the West Village.
Apprehensive, as I usually am, to make sure I order the best of the menu – I conferred with the knowledgeable waiter who steered us in the right direction. We began with the aforementioned spicy crispy beef, which had complexity, depth of flavor and excellent texture; it was a portent of good things to come. We also ordered a duo of shrimp dishes – shrimp-stuffed shishito peppers and yuzu-wasabi shrimp that were both seasoned perfectly and cooked to perfection – allowing the shrimp to be juicy, plump and tender.
From there we moved onto the acclaimed (and I promise delicious) dim sum. It is here that chef Ng’s talent shines brightest. We enjoyed the crispy duck & crab dumplings – with its crisp exterior and juicy meat interior paired with the brininess of the crab made for a harmonious interplay. Other dumplings we loved were the pork & crab soup dumplings and the shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings. Each was a standout in it’s own right.
We eventually moseyed along to the entrees and ate a deliciously innovative three chicken chili that was spicy (but not overly so) and moist. Another favorite was the sautéed lobster, egg and copped pork. Many adjectives come to mind to describe the dish, but succulent is the most apt.
In the end, RedFarm is a restaurant that is both satisfying and hip – a rare combination in this city loves superficiality and pretense. My guest and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal and urge you to try it yourself!
NY, NY 10024