Friday, June 11, 2010

Red Light

For my sister's birthday I promised to take her out to dinner at any location of her choosing. After some searching, she came up with this place called Red Light in the Fulton Market District. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this area (centered at the corner of Halsted and Randolph), it's basically a few streets lined with some of the trendiest and tastiest restaurants in Chicago. So Red Light is this kind of Asian fusion place that definitely fits in the neighborhood. Before I go any further, I just want to say that you should not go here under any circumstance. My blog will boil down to this: The food was amazing and yet it was still the worst dining experience I've had so far by a long shot. Now for the details.

That empty table is where we eventually sat in case you were wondering

So we got to Red Light at about 7:15 and were greeted kindly by the host who said the wait would be 15 minutes. She suggested we wait at the bar and grab a drink. I always find it funny when the bar area is small and you're basically standing in front of the host stand while "being at the bar," but we eventually got stools. Lisa ordered the Mango Martini. I happened to notice that a bunch of tables were wide open which is alright because maybe the kitchen was backed up and they weren't seating people. After about 25 minutes I asked where we were at on the wait, and the hostess said they were prepping our table. At 7:55 we were sat at one of the tables right next to the bar which we could clearly see the whole time we were waiting was not being setup and was indeed empty. We were happy to be sat though so we didn't complain.

After about 15 minutes of waiting we still hadn't been approached by any waiter. As a manager walked by I pointed this out to him, and he said he'd track down our waiter. The manager came back saying he couldn't find the waiter and would take our order, but he forgot the specials. We started to order when the manager stopped us to tell us all of the things they were out of. Conveniently this was pretty much everything we wanted on the menu. The one special that the waiter remembered was a whole deep fried catfish. We weren't going to order this, but he pointed out that it takes a half hour (this will come into play later).

The Mango Martini

After placing our order, Lisa and I got into some good conversation and all, still somewhat amazed that no one offered us free drinks or an appetizer for all the trouble we'd had so far. So we're sitting near the bar and this woman walks by and spills her red wine all over me and our table (it was almost comically awful at this point). A waiter saw this all go down, and the first reaction was to get this woman a new glass of wine. We were left without an help from anyone, and myself and the table remained stained for the rest of the night.

The appetizers came out after 30 minutes (good thing we didn't order the catfish, I wonder how long that would have taken). The entrees came out after an hour. Oh, by the way we still hadn't seen our waiter since a food runner brought out all of our food. Finally, when the check came our waiter brought it (nice to meet him). I was so fed up with the meal that I decided to complain, but when I tried to find a manager, there was none. Laughing, I left the restaurant.

The Food
For our appetizers we got the Classic Thai Dtom Khaa Gai Soup and the Crispy Artichokes. The soup was a coconut curry broth filled with chicken, asparagus, red peppers, and mushrooms. It was rich, spicy, and hot. If this wasn't in public I would have licked the bowl. The Artichokes were lightly fried and came with some fantastic dipping sauces, my favorite being the soy caramel.

 Classic Thai Dtom Khaa Gai

Crispy Artichokes

For our entrees we split the Panang Beef Curry and the Mirin Glazed Salmon. The curry was red and thick with coconut milk and peanut butter. The curry was sweet and creamy and may have been the best curry I've ever had. The beef and julienned vegetables added a nice complimentary flavor. The meat could have been a little more tender, but the dish was practically perfect. The Salmon was cooked perfectly and slightly on the rarer side like we asked. It was served over a bed of Green Tea Soba Noodles which had a delicious crisp adding lots of texture to the dish. The whole thing was topped with a red wine soy vinegar sauce adding the needed acidity. The side veggies were also fantastic and covered with some sort of wasabi dressing.

 Panang Beef Curry

Mirin Glazed Salmon

Let's talk in terms of Pearls. If I were going just by the food, I would have given this place 4.5, but that will not be the case. I've never felt so mistreated by a restaurant before in my life. I understand busy places, but this was ridiculous. Just to let you all know, I called the next day to tell a manager my story, and I should be receiving a gift card at some point (not sure for how much). I would've turned it down, but the card is good at any of their restaurants which include Opera and Giocco (which I've been anxious to try). Either way, no matter how good the food was, I would never suggest that any of you ever eat at Red Light. I'm giving them 1 out of 5 Pearls.

Red Light on Urbanspoon


  1. I can't believe you called the next day... Geeez having a food blog gives you such a sense of entitlement.


  2. Actually Carrie, Jeff has had a sense of entitlement since I dubbed Spring 2007 "The Semester of Pearl."


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