Great pizzas, great artwork - great time!

Aug. 21, 2005, midnight | By Mary Donahue | 18 years, 11 months ago

The redDog Cafe is the perfect place for a family night out and a pizza.

Nestled inside the Rock Creek Shopping Center, three miles from downtown Silver Spring, the redDog Cafe offers a modern alternative to the typical family night out. Providing an extensive menu that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options, the cafe attracts many couples and families.

Space is limited to no more than 20 tables, but the high ceilings and open kitchen clear up the room. The track lighting sets off the fire engine red paint and local artist Geoff Desobry's contemporary artwork, which tastefully decorates the cafe's walls. The redDog Cafe displays local artists' work and holds receptions to promote the work.

The cafe teams up not only with local artists but also with Java Juice to provide unique, flavorful drinks that complement the meals. The menu provides ample opportunities for trying something new. Though rather pricey ($2.95 for a medium), the celery-apple vegetable juice is a hit with its strong apple flavor and less defined, but still apparent, celery taste. The redDog Lemonade takes a classic drink and gives it a vibrant twist of apple. The iced mocha drinks are tasty, but have a strong mocha flavor even when the white chocolate variety is ordered.

In lieu of a breadbasket, a variety of olives arrive in a small, white dish with an identical, empty dish alongside for the pits. It's cute and creative, but does not give large groups enough for everyone. Luckily the wait for the food isn't long, so the olives are not meant to appease the appetite.

Vegetarians beware: although told the cold jade soup is meatless, it arrives with bacon bits piled high on top. The soup underneath, though, is worth the trouble of removing the bacon bits. With an underlying hint of pepper, the refreshing leek and watercress soup is perfect during steamy summer days. The roasted mussels, tastefully presented in a shell-shaped copper ramekin, come in a white wine, shallot and herb broth that does not overpower the strong flavor of the mussels. Each "starter" comes with wedges of addictive focaccia bread that make worth the trip alone.

Reasonably priced and amazingly flavorful, the stars of the evening are undoubtedly the pizzas and chicken under brick. The pizzas are big enough to share and offer an array of creative toppings ranging from the typical cheese pizza to caramelized onions with Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts. The crust, while chewy on the inside, has an added outside crunch from being baked in a brick oven. Your wallet won't be crunched with the price, either, since the pizzas range from $9.95 to $14.95 with the option of additional toppings at $1.35 each.

The half-chicken under brick is succulent and bursting with flavor. The leg and thigh of the chicken is moist and has a well-balanced citrus flavor, but the breast meat is a little dry and the flavor looses its intensity. At $13.25, the chicken is on the verge of being expensive, but the experience is worth the expense.

The North Carolina baby back ribs peel easily off the bone and have a slightly, but not too spicy flavor. Ordered with the coleslaw, you have the making of a very flavorful meal for only $15.95.

Once you work your way through the crunchy cheese topping of the baked macaroni and cheese, the inside is disappointingly ordinary and is not thoroughly melted. The dish is quite greasy, but not creamy. The herb roasted potato wedges that come with it outshine the macaroni with their flavorful crunch and wonderful seasonings.

Save room for dessert if you like an adult-flavored bread pudding that has a strong burnt caramel flavor. The bunt cakes, provided by Just Cakes! taste like something from Betty Crocker and aren't worth the $5 they cost. On this visit, the fresh fruit crisp sounded appetizing, but they had run out of it.
The restaurant fills up by 7:30 during weekday evenings so expect a wait, but by 8:30 the crowd begins to thin out. The redDog Cafe also offers carry out options.

So if you are looking for a not exactly cheap-eat but fun dinner with friends or family, the redDog Cafe offers tasty cuisine along with some great artwork.

The redDog Café is located at 8301-A Grubb Road in Silver Spring and is open Tuesday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Mary Donahue. Mary Donahue is an 11th grade, vegetarian Honors student who is addicted to sugar. Whatever free time she can find is quickly swallowed up by Doback, "her" horse, or her crazy friends, with whom she scares mortals. She isn't happy unless she is moving, which … More »

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