A Perfect Pairing at Redbird

A few things can make a good night out to dinner an exceptional night out. When the company, food, wine pairing and service all come together, this elevates the evening. And, my outing to Redbird in Downtown LA was all that. My winemaker friend Dan Glover of L’Objet Noir in Sonoma was in town and we were lucky to get a last minute reservation on a Saturday night. And, I knew I was in for a special night as my dining companion is a fellow foodie who is open to sharing lots of dishes and drinking lots of wine.

Redbird is the long anticipated (5 years of waiting) restaurant by Chef Neal Fraser and his wife Amy Knoll Fraser.  Located in the old 1933-built rectory inside the Vibiana Cathedral, you enter into a lounge space and then continue into the main dining room which is an outdoor patio space with a retractable roof. In the center of the room is a 360 degree bar that can be accessed from the dining room or the lounge.

As we perused the menu, Sommelier Diane Pandolfini came to our table. So personable and outgoing, we started chatting with her as we reviewed the dynamic, creative wine menu that includes a section (both by the bottle and by the glass) for Rose and Orange wines. (There is an extended wine list upon request that includes an entire page to Orange wines.) With so many lesser known wines, wine regions and wine styles, Diane makes sure that her staff can comfortably discuss the wines with customers in a manner that can be understood. Anyone on the service team can describe the wines and assist in making suggestions.

Sommelier Diane Pandolfini (1)

We told Diane that we wanted to start with a glass of bubbles and her recommendation was the Jean Diot Brut Rose NV Champagne from France. We were intrigued with this 100% Pinot Meunier wine and blown away by its bright fruitiness and acidity.

Champagne Jean Diot Rose Champagne Jean Diot Rose

We enjoyed the glass of Champagne with our first two dishes.

Tempura Smelt are little crispy fish served with citrus spiced aioli and grilled lemon. They can be eaten in one or two bites…..if the heads bother you, just take a bite from that end first.

Tempura Smelt

The Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche is both fresh and creamy, served with citrus, avocado, radish and serrano.

Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche

For our next dish, we poured a glass of Dan’s L’Objet Noir 2011 Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River Valley that we had brought with us.  With the bite size Potato Crusted Smoked Pork Shank with romesco and charred broccolini,  this Pinot Noir was the perfect pairing.

Potato Crusted Smoked Pork Shank

As we prepared for the next dishes, we entrusted Diane with our wine pairings and she did not disappoint.

Pouing Wine

First, she selected the Hexamer 2013 Quartzit Riesling, Nahe, Germany to pair with the Santa Barbara Sea Urchin with north sea shrimp, nori and wasabi snow. The minerality of the wine and the creaminess of the sea urchin was harmonious.

Hexamer 2013 Riesling, Quartzit, Nahe, Germany Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

When it came to the La Belle Farms Foie Gras with pistachios, cocoa nibs, asian pear, cider jelly, brioche, the natural pairing was Climens 2010 Semillon, Cypres de Climens, Barsac, France. The sweetness and acidity of the wine cut through the richness of the foie gras, leaving a lasting smile on our faces.

Climens 2010 Semillon, Cypres de Climens, Barsac, France La Belle Farms Foie Gras

When the Thai Style Dungeness Crab Soup with cauliflower flan was served, we returned to our glass with the German Riesling as this time the slight sweetness and acidity of the wine tempered the spice of the soup.

Thai Style Dungeness Crab Soup

For our last two dishes, Braised Goat Gemelli with rapini, fresno chili, garlic bread crumbs and poached egg and Gnocchetti Sardi with main lobster and black trumpets, Diane selected the Tajinaste 2012 Listán Negro Tradicional, Las Canarias, Spain. From the isolated Canary Islands off of Spain, listán negro is an indigenous grape. With juicy blackberry and blueberry, black pepper and fennel notes, you can almost taste the volcanic soil that this wine comes from. A perfect wine to pair with the meaty goat and the creamy gnocchetti.

Tajinaste 2012 Listan Negro, Tradicional, Las Canarias, Spain Braised Goat GemelliGnocchetti Sardi

By the end of a good dinner, like the one we had at Redbird, the table should be covered with glasses with all sorts of tasty wines. Thanks to Diane, this is what our table looked like. It was a perfect meal – from the food to the wine pairings and from the company to the service, it was an exceptional evening.


214 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012