Red Cat Vs. Cookshop...Finally a direct comparison
For some reason, I've slept on both restaurants since forever. Then for some reason, I found myself at dinner on Monday night at Red Cat with the girlfriend, and Wednesday night with the family.
I went to The Harrison for the first time last year for a birthday and while I liked the look of the place and the atmosphere, the food was just meh...not even factoring in the price. Same thing happened at Red Cat. The place is perfect...warm, inviting, friendly. We had great service throughout the night though they did basically rush our entrees out right after they took away our appetizers...slightly off putting.
The table had the tempura string beans which were exactly as they sound and not very good. I had the arctic char appetizer which was okay but not memorable. The sauce was a bit too tart actually. None of the entrees looked interesting so I settled for the pork chop. It was good actually. Very moist, thick, but it's a pork chop. The rest of my party had the cod which I sampled and didn't care for and the scallop appetizer which is harmless and okay.
Dessert looked promising but was overall forgettable. I liked the blackout cake but the mini egg cream tasted awfully bad. The blackberry crisp was okay.
Dinner was $280 plus tip for 4 people...including a bottle of Austrian red that I enjoyed. Just as my experience at the Harrison, the food was very unmemorable. I'll go again if it's someone else's choice but that's about it.
Cookshop was much better in terms of food. The space itself is much livelier and noisy but not in a bad way. Service was friendly and competent. You can tell they're trying to balance being an upscale destination while being a friendly neighborhood type of place. I had the chicken liver mousse which was tasty, and the pork dish which was quite good. Very moist and served with the crackling skin. Some fat but it comes with the territory. Other members had the steak which was decent and the ravioli.
Dessert was delicious. The pot de creme was very good, the sundae was the best and the peach crisp was good too.
Dinner was maybe $320 for 5 people including about 1 round of alcoholic drinks. I was very pleased with Cookshop.
Agreed on The Red Cat. I so wanted to love it. The first time I went, I ordered a kaffir lime cocktail that was made with a flavored vodka so gross it tasted like straight Rose's Lime Juice (the bartender also corrected my pronunciation of 'kaffir'). The food: I had read about the zucchini appetizer, which was unremarkable; the polenta only edible because it's covered in cheese; the mashed potatoes pretty flavorless. I went back the same week because a friend enjoyed it. I ordered the chicken, thinking their reputation for solid standards might be in evidence. Dry, nearly inedible. The prices are way too high, the service is only okay.
As for Cookshop, I like that they use fresh farm vegetables but also overpriced and the food, while I enjoyed it far more than my meals at The Red Cat, wasn't memorable at all.
(I sound grumpy...I'm not. But The Red Cat is a little maddening.)
I've been to Cookshop 4 or 5 times and have always had a great meal and service.
One exception, I just ordered something I didn't care for. It was me, not the dish. The waiter asked if something was wrong with it, I told him no, it was just my personal taste. I ordered wrong. They took it off the bill. I tried to explain that it really wasn't the food, but they insisted. Unnecessary, but very cool.