Order Monday's Meatball and you'll learn everything you need to know about Hudson's One Red Door in a few tender bites. The inspiration behind the two hand-rolled meatballs ($4), a combination of house-ground beef, pork and veal, hails from one of chef and owner Shawn Monday's family recipes. And with their charmingly imperfect shape, it shows.
The dish is simple, familiar, a bit rustic, which comes from a stellar chunky marinara, and a salty surprise finish from prosciutto.
It's the Monday we know from his seven years at Downtown 140, where he infused even the simplest dishes with unexpected flavors: shrimp and grits with pickled okra or bruschetta with English peas and truffle oil. Here at the more casual One Red Door, that style hasn't changed even though the setting has.
Gone are the white tablecloths and uberdim lighting. In its place are oak floors, wood rafters, brick accents and a high-top chef's table with a view straight into a 40-year-old New York City pizza oven. One Red Door is rustic chic with a tavernlike air of worn-in age that gives the former Vue space the sense it has been here for years.
The menu is just as welcoming with plenty of comfort fare: pulled pork sliders, Ohio City spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese. A large section of shareable dishes spans salads, soups and appetizer-sized portions for two to three. A tight lineup of four artisanal pizzas, seven entrees and "bites" (small servings meant for one) round out the offerings.
One Red Door's menu is approachable, but there's nothing ordinary here. We started with the farmhouse cheese board ($3.50) — a casual mix of three seasonal cheeses, grilled bread, nuts and a rotating sweet fruit spread — and the roasted date ($3.50). Monday stuffs the latter with chorizo and manchego before playfully wrapping it in bacon and finishing it off with a smoky tomato sauce.
Standouts from the shared portion of the menu include the spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms ($8) topped with a fried egg and truffle honey dressing.
Another nice surprise was the crispy calamari and gulf shrimp ($10.50) with a gingery miso glaze, crunchy slaw, radish and carrots shaved on top that eats more like a stir fry than your typical appetizer. A tasting of ahi tuna ($13) offers the same Asian bent with two preparations separated by a mustard paprika drizzle: tuna tartare wrapped in flaky taco shells with wasabi guacamole and seared rare tuna with an ancho chili crust piled on a slightly salty edamame salad.
"We try to be approachable, but we also try not to be boring," Monday explains. "Rather than try to be extraordinary and add all these garnishes, you want to think about the preparation of it."
Monday is more interested in flavors than flash. The best example comes straight from his 650-degree pizza oven, where extra fine Italian flour is transformed into pizza crusts that are crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. Toppings range from a simple marinara and cheese ($10) to an outstanding earthy duck confit ($14) with roasted smashed squash, creamy goat cheese and a cherrylike port reduction drizzle.
The same fun with toppings is evident in the applewood bacon aioli on the chef's burger ($15). The salty and nutty aioli is the perfect match for the thrice-cooked pommes frites. (And, if the Ohio grass-fed beef is any indication of what to expect from the burger joint Monday plans to open next door, we are counting down the days.)
The entrees have the feel of classic meat-and-potato creations but are mixed with Monday's creativity. Seared grouper ($25.50), with potato gnocchi and lobster gratin and garlicky wilted spinach, eats like a steak. It's hearty and perfectly seared with a delicate center. But the good dish is made great by a Maine lobster jus that adds complexity to the otherwise mild flavors. The same can be said about the braised short ribs ($19.50) surrounded by a halo of potato puree and roasted root vegetables. Monday's decision to crust the top of the rib with a citruslike horseradish makes it a standout.
This is how Monday keeps us on our toes. He'll serve you a meatball, crust your short rib with horseradish and even make you crave a side order of Brussels sprouts ($4) doused in Parmesan cheese.
After leaving Downtown 140, Monday said he wanted to create a place for everyday dining, something familiar, a spot where people could eat more than once in awhile. After visiting One Red Door, we're happy to say that's exactly what he's done.
When You GoOne Red Door 49 Village Way, Hudson,Ohio
Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.,
Fri & Sat 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m
The chef's burger ($15) with grass-fed beef, crispy shallots, Brie and date, applewood bacon aioli
To maintain an approachable restaurant, Monday tries to keep half of the tables open for walk-ins.