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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

RedLander Restaurant

     This restaurant is part of Schnebly Winery's recent expansion, and bringing sophisticated dining into the wine tasting experience was an astute decision. I'd never been to the winery in spite of all the recommendations and the fact that it's in Homestead, Florida, just 45 minutes south of home.
     I'm glad I waited. Originally, people came for the wine tastings. If you wanted solids, you could bring some food from outside or buy the overpriced snacks at their retail counter, and enjoy a pleasant time sipping away in their ample outdoor area. An ersatz grassy lawn contains countless picnic tables for family fun and huge tiki huts with more seating and dim lighting for the romantics, all with a lush tropical background adorned by a quaint bridge over a serpentine koi pond.
     Besides the restaurant, Schnebly also added a brewery. In other words, if you didn't visit because of the absence of food or because you're not a wine lover, you are now out of excuses. I sampled the guava wine as a preamble to Schnebly's famous lychee wine, the only wine I cared to consume. The guava flavor stood up bravely to the powerful wine. Now I waited with excited anticipation for my lychee wine. It didn't disappoint. Again, the wine was robust, but the lychee flavor mixed smoothly.
 
     I always expect to find kinks that need to be worked out when a new establishment opens, and RedLander has some decisions to make regarding when their lunch hours end and dinner begins, but the food was solid and the service attentive. In my book, that's what counts.
    
     To begin with, they have a prix fixe menu, which is always merciful on the wallet, and it allows me to sample many different items. John ordered the potato and vegetable soup and I the ceviche for appetizers. The soup was hearty, thick, and flavorful. The ceviche was tangy and fresh.
     For entrees, John ordered the pasta with shrimp and guava tomato sauce and I the Pork and Grits. Hubby was scared about the guava. He was poised and ready to dislike it. I assured him that the guava would do nothing more than add a layer of sweetness to the sauce, but I'm not often successful in mitigating his misgivings. He doesn't say it, but I know he thinks my bold experimentation with food is just plain weird. Nevertheless, I was right. His plate was generous, the shrimp plump and well cooked, and the sauce well executed. One objection he did voice was that he kept finding guava seeds in the sauce that he refused to eat. I can respect that. Perhaps they should've used a seedless guava jam to mix with the marinara.

     My pork was savory and melted in my mouth. It coupled beautifully with the grits, also luscious and flavorful. Both elements live blissfully in a black bean sauce, a happy surprise since I missed it when I read the menu.

      The freedom that comes with a prix fixe menu allowed me a taste of all dessert choices on the concise menu guilt-free. Today we had Guava Flan Brulee and the Flourless Chocolate Torte. Flan is tricky for me because I happen to have a recipe that beats anything I've ever had in a restaurant, but I'm always hopeful. This one was no different than the rest. The guava syrup was a delightful addition, but the texture was not firm enough for my taste. The chocolate torte was a pleasant discovery. It was more like an over-sized chocolate truffle- rich, powerful, and so dense, it coated every corner of my mouth.
     I'm glad I finally made it to the winery, and inadvertently, my delay turned out to be strategic. If I had gone just to sample wine with no chance of a dining experience, I fear I would've found it all pointless. As it stands, I look forward to another visit.




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