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February 8-14, 2006

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First Bite


By Lori Narlock

Editor's note: First Bite is a new concept in restaurant writing. This is not a go-three-times, try-everything-on-the-menu report; rather, this is a quick snapshot of a single experience.

Richard Reddington has it all--good looks, exquisite style, loads of talent and now an eponymous restaurant in Yountville that could easily double as a bachelor pad extraordinaire.

Sleek and masculine, Redd's dining room is sexy with nearly bare white walls adorned simply with a room-length mirror on the back wall and three minimalist paintings that hang on another. Oversize windows make up two of the outdoor walls, allowing plenty of natural light to enhance the ultramodern lighting. The décor is minimal with earthy wood, sparkling chrome and lots of dark gray wool. It's what you would expect if you were invited to dine with a tall, dark and handsome chef.

You might be disappointed though, if you were expecting romance--at night, the lights are too bright, the tables too wide and the room a tad too noisy for real intimacy. That's why brunch at Redd is perfect. It's like being invited for breakfast after a late night.

With Reddington's résumé (he's worked the stove at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford and Masa's in San Francisco), it's fair to expect a culinary experience that rivals the surroundings--dishes with richness balanced by subtle flavors and careful yet casual presentations.

We weren't disappointed. We started with a dish composed of paper-thin slices of smoked salmon, tiny dill and cream cheese quenelles, and olive-oil-drizzled bread ($14). I followed it with the breakfast pizza ($14), a flavorful disk of crisp, thin dough topped with arugula, prosciutto and scrambled eggs. It was enough to feed two people but was so delicious, I was glad I didn't have to share. My husband had the huevos rancheros ($17), which weren't as good as what you can get for a lot less elsewhere. Still, my only regret was that we enthusiastically ordered a bottle of Roederer Brut from Anderson Valley ($36) before we remembered that we could have had cocktails from the full bar.

Brunch was exceptionally enjoyable because we were made to feel welcome among the mostly jean-clad crowd, even after we showed up with our one-year-old in tow. Redd's professional and friendly staff took our arrival in stride without a single grimace, and when we left, apologizing for the container of applesauce that was dropped behind the banquette just out of our reach, they merely thanked us for the alert.

In the end, brunch was a splurge, but I can't imagine a better reason for getting out of bed on a Sunday.

Redd. 6480 Washington St., Yountville. Dinner daily; lunch, Monday-Saturday; brunch, Sunday. 707.944.2222.

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Quick-and-dirty dashes through North Bay restaurants. These aren't your standard "bring five friends and order everything on the menu" dining reviews.