The Original Red Onion, Pinole CA *Revisited*
Since we found out the last time we ate here that the menu was expanded, we had to try some new items (or at least new to us) at the Red Onion. If we’re going to stick to “enlightening minds, enriching palates” then we ought to broaden our horizons not just in variety of restaurants, but also in what is available at each.
Crinkle cut fries are a throwback to childhood, like the fries in the school cafeteria, but these are better than any you would have had in third grade. You can get regular or super, but the regular is a hefty portion already even for three people. Overwhelmingly smothered in real melted cheddar cheese and real bacon hunks, this is a tasty mountain that Bea the Dog gets to finish conquering at home.
On the bottom of the front page, under a lot of specialty burgers, is a chicken “burger” but don’t let the name fool you. It’s a breaded breast with lettuce, tomato, onions (grilled on request), smoky chipotle sauce, and August added cheese. The chicken itself is like a standard spicy breaded breast, but the sauce gives it a real kick.
If you really, really like cheese, get a double here. Zach has to be honest and say it was a little much for him – if he were to get double meat patties ever again (most likely not going to happen anyway), he would get single cheese. He chose this merely for the picture so that you can see just how big the burgers are here. Remember too, that they have a food challenge and you gain your fame by downing a minimum of five patties! Zach loves the burgers, don’t get us wrong, but it was his first time trying a double here and it was a lot of food. The supreme, according to the menu, “comes with everything except the kitchen sink: 1/4 lb bacon, mushrooms, cheese, & an egg (kitchen sink extra).” Tomato, lettuce, and onions come standard, and Zach chose grilled onions like August. Juicy and well seasoned patties with a nice crust from proper grilling, layered with thick cut bacon and a good mix of grilled and fresh vegetables, made for one heckuva flavorful burger.
Nestled between two thin genoise cakes is a smooth and creamy pistachio mousseline with fresh, ripe strawberries. A thin layer of fluffy, toasted merengue covers the top. This is a very refreshing dessert, rich but not too heavy. Pistachio and strawberry work well together.
A flaky tart shell, almond filling with a consistency of marzipan but a lighter flavor, and slices of a slow-poached pear come together for another refreshing dessert. As we are about to come in to Spring, these first two are like tastes of the season. The pear was poached well so it was firm and very dense in spices like cloves and cinnamon mingling with the red wine base.
We picked up a mini pecan tart and a chocolate salted caramel cupcake for our neighbor. We can’t vouch for the eating experience of these two items, but we can safely guess the quality. The pastry chef that bakes for all three Red Onion locations does great work.
You usually see the same cooks and they’ve been here for a while, so obviously they’re better than good and know what they’re doing. It was our first time meeting server Elaine, and she was pleasant and answered all our questions. Whether you’re looking for a good burger or want to pick up some superb desserts, and either way kids of all ages will be happy, this is the place.