With the caveat that I'm probably getting a little too old for a place like this - my wife and I may not have been the most elderly people on the premises on a Friday night, but that's mainly just because owner "Bim" Deitrich was there - this converted auto-repair shop in Clifton is fun, and it's already packing in crowds after an unpublicized "soft" opening this month.
As you might expect from a restaurateur of Deitrich's skills (he's the proprietor of Brasserie Deitrich and Allo Spiedo), Red Lounge hit the ground running, with few opening-night jitters.
It's loud. It's smoky. It's slick and glitzy and fun in an "East Village comes to Frankfort Avenue" style, with spartan, nouveau-industrial decor in red and black. The bar is well-stocked, featuring standard and "exotic" cocktails as well as an estimable beer list: The first suggestion out of the server's mouth was Rogue's Dead Guy Ale. (Stop right there! I'll have that one!)
Red Lounge is a bar first and an eatery second. You won't find an extensive menu here. But the fare, a short list of "gourmet pub grub," comes out of a neat little open kitchen that you can watch from the back room, and it is very good. The menu card features 15 items, many with Asian and Latino "fusion" twists, an assortment of quick bites from $6 (for Hong Kong pot stickers) to $13 (for sliced filet or chimichurris).
We tried Spicy crab won tons with Vietnamese dipping sauce ($8) and, at the server's suggestion, lamb picadillo empañadas with mint mojo ($7). Both were pastry-wrapped fried things (as are many of the menu choices), salty and hot and grease-free, excellent fare for munching with beer, and "plated" with a bit of flair. The won tons were like elongated egg rolls with a good seafood stuffing and a sweet-hot sauce. The empañadas were memorable, short and flaky pastry halfmoons around savory lamb. They went down fast with hefty glasses of the Oregon microbrewery Rogue Ale's Dead Guy Ale (in memory of The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia).
We listened to the music for a while. We ordered a glass of Glennfiddich to finish up, bringing the tab for the evening to a fair $32.86, plus a $7.14 tip for exceptionally attentive service. We enjoyed ourselves even if we did come home with our clothes reeking of cigarettes. Don't go if you're looking for a romantic spot to enjoy a quiet moment with your sweetie. But if you like loud, good music and a frenzied scene and don't mind a smoky environment, hasten to check it out. It's going to be the hot spot of the season. $$