Farm To Glass

By Dr. Ink

Many of the organics that land in your cocktails and appetizers at The Red Door hail from the owner’s Mt. Helix garden, which has been supplying bumper crops to the cherished Mission Hills establishment over the past several years. 

Even better, the drinks and selected wines on the happy hour list come down in price by at least 50 percent, opposed to other places where the discounts are so measly that you barely notice.

Trish Watlington also owns the adjoining Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge, which has its own bar and happy hour deals, although both places share the same kitchen helmed by “root-to-fruit” advocate Karrie Hills. Her credo is to utilize entire plants when preparing anything we consume — the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, etc.

The Red Door greets with a small, tastefully decorated bar area that drifts into an equally inviting dining room marked by paned glass windows and a refreshing, unpretentious vibe. It’s the kind of place where you come to comfortably eat and drink rather than dwell on being seen.

A friend and I perched at the intimate bar, quizzing the efficient bartender along the way on the constructs of certain cocktails on the happy hour list. We learned that locally distilled rum from Malahat Spirits is coming soon and that limes and coyote mint from Watlington’s home garden went into the gluten-free mojito I ordered for $7.

For now, it uses a neat pour of Don Q, which successfully loosened me by the halfway mark. For those who eschew sugar-laden mojitos, this is your calling. It was bright and citrusy, and with the bonus of dried cranberries floating within.

She was also knowledgeable about the wine offerings and their specs, rattling off the varietals comprising a Spanish red appearing that day that blends grenache with syrah. My friend chose Barrel 27 syrah instead based on its Paso Robles roots, which translated expectedly to big and boozy. It’s priced at $5 a glass.

In addition to pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, cabernet, prosecco and more, some of the other discounted cocktails include a “howlin’ julep” made with bourbon and basil from the garden as well as another called “blue smoke,” which combines Laphroaig malt whiskey with vodka and a couple of blue cheese-stuffed olives to boot.

Discounted chow ranges from $5 to $11. The lineup includes twice-fried sweet potato medallions, blackened fish tacos, flatbreads and a charred burger with aged cheddar and garden greens. There’s also a dish capturing “garden veggies of the moment,” served with chimichurri.

We ordered the curry cauliflower with mint and blond raisins. The flavors were delightfully complex and paired exceptionally well to my friend’s syrah, much like a good steak would do.

Whether you’re in need of an inexpensive happy hour slinging sturdy drinks or a full dinner containing local organics, The Red Door is worth knocking on.