I debated about designating this review a road trip review. Monroe isn’t that far away, just a few minutes north of West Chester where I grew up, but I know that for some people anything outside of 275 is suburban wasteland. The miles and miles of strip malls can be intimidating, to say nothing of the creepy-giant Jesus statue, but sometimes you just have to get out of your protective urban bubble. So the next time you venture north on 75, be it for the outlet mall, Trader’s World, or the Hustler superstore, you might want to make a stop at the Red Onion Cafe.
There aren’t many good, independent restaurants in the area so I’ve eaten there a number of times but the prices are high so I usually only go when my mom is paying. On my last trip there, I was surprised how crowded the parking lot outside the Red Onion was for a Wednesday night. Inside the small bar all of the ten or so tables and most of the bar was full but we were able to find two seats at the distinctive, penny covered bar and were seated right away. The food here is wonderful. It’s a hole-in-the-wall joint with a gourmet chef at the helm. Think typical pub food but done by someone who really knows and loves food. My date and I shared the Asian strip steak, which was perfectly cooked but a little strong on the wasabi, served with a lovely side of roast vegetables. For a starter we had house-made Saratoga chips topped with gorgonzola and a basaltic vinegar sauce. It was all wonderful. The kitchen split our entrée onto two dishes without us having to ask and they did not make me feel cheap at all for doing it.
The beer selection is very good for such a small place. There were only three beers on tap but none of them were bud lite, and a decent selection of bottled. I had an IPA on tap and my date had a Southern Tier Double Stout. For dessert we each had a decadent coffee drink with Bailey’s, Frangelico, Jameson and topped with whipped cream. It was the perfect ending to dinner on a cold and rainy night.
The Red Onion isn’t a place you drive to for the drinks but the food is enough of a draw on it’s own and the selection is good enough that you don’t have to suffer uninspired beer while enjoying your gourmet pub food.