Jamie Pribanic, Chef and Owner
Red Gables, I have past by this place 100s of times, Never giving it a 2nd thought because it looks so funky from the outside. It is actually is an interesting concept, has a strong point of view, and is worth a visit. This theme of mine, passing by restaurants and businesses in Sandusky because they look funky on the outside needs to stop because every time I go in, I have a great time, the food has been great, and the owners are usually really down to Earth enjoyable nice people. Red Gables is one of these places that look funky on the outside, but has really good food, much of the vegetables and bread are sourced locally, cooked over mesquite, and Jamie the owner is super nice. Also, a running theme of mine, nice goes a long way for the success of a meal.
old school steak house decor
I was tipped off about Red Gables from the owners of Zinc Brasserie
and Crush Wine Bar
, that Jamie at Red Gables strives to use locally grown vegetables, and he only has a mesquite grill to cook with. I was intrigued, so I went for a meal. Jamie is Jason's father, and Jason is the one who started the 1st CSA in Sandusky
, and the 1st all artisan, local, and local organic farmers market in Sandusky. Jamie does get fruits and vegetables from Jason, and I am sure they are locally sourced. Jamie also gets his bread from Jason, and all of that bread is baked daily by a local artisan baker. The meat is sourced from a meat market in Cleveland, where there are still real butchers and meat markets. I make this comment because Nashville's last real butcher and meat market closed last month, and now all Nashville has are chain grocery stores with meat cutters who don't know how to butcher. The situation with the cooking equipment that Jamie has is really unique for a non-BBQ steakhouse, he has an industrial size wood burning stove and grill. About 20 years ago, Jamie took a trip down to "my parts of the woods" to Crossville, TN where there was a wood stove maker for restaurant use. Jamie wanted a restaurant sized stove that burned wood, charcoal and mesquite, and have that be the only stove in his restaurant. Everything cooked in-house is cooked on this stove, including appetizers, steaks, other meat, vegetables, everything. This is great for me because I like eating locally wherever I go, and I love the flavor mesquite.
artisan rosemary bread
When I got into the restaurant, I was taken aback and taken back by the decor which is so 1980s. The dark mauve carpet and matching booth and napkin colors is so 1980s. I am pretty sure that the restaurant design was made approximately at the same time the wood burning stove was purchased, and when Red Gables was 1st set up. I believe it is the original decor scheme, it is not retro, or I guess it is the original retro. I was a little scared by the decor, but I remembered what I was told about this place, and I pushed on.
smoky Thai style shrimp dumplings
The menu is meat and shell fish heavy. If you are a vegan, or someone who wants a high fiber meal, this is not the place for you. If you eat meat, shellfish and like mesquite aroma and flavor, this is a Must Try place. I ordered the house made Thai style seafood dumplings to start, and a NY Strip. Everything is grilled on that mesquite and hardwood charcoal grill, including the dumplings. I questioned if the dumplings were made in house, but when I took a bite, I was sure they were. They were made with a really nice wonton noodle, fresh peas, and shrimp. The dumplings were boiled, and then put on the grill to give it a little char and mesquite, and then topped with the spicy and sweet Thai dipping sauce. Really tasty, and the char and mesquite added a nice quality to the dumplings. If I had my way, I would make all my dumplings this way. Also, much Thai street food is made over an open flame, so these dumplings may taste more like food from which it was inspired. My NY Strip was pepper encrusted and put on the mesquite grill. Years ago, Jamie went to a restaurant in Knoxville, TN which prepared steaks similar to how Jamie prepares steaks. The Knoxville restaurant staff said all steaks come pepper encrusted and cooked over wood coals, and if you didn't like it, they would make a plain steak. Wish I knew what restaurant that was, and I would go visit it one day. But, anyway, as the story goes, virtually no one returned steaks at this Knoxville restaurant, and virtually no one returns steaks at Red Gables either. The steak has a nice flavor from the pepper, but it isn't over the top peppery. When I talked to Jamie, he said he is looking for grass fed beef options for his menu, perhaps this year or next. I am not sure when. It may be tough to find a tender grass fed option, so perhaps there might be a 2nd category on the menu with the beef he sells now, and then a few local grass fed beef options for those who remember, and can appreciate grass fed beef steaks. It may be easier to find decent pastured chickens and have that on the menu.
NY Strip and asparagus
As I was dining, Jamie came around to say hello to every table, and chat for a moment. First off, I had a moment of awe because Jamie looked like a healthier and younger version of Mick Jagger from the 1960s, when young women swooned over Mick. Jamie told me about his wood and charcoal burning stove and grill, where he got it, and the story of installing into his restaurant. It is really heavy, so it was installed once, and that is that. He talked about where he sources the bread and vegetables, and they were delicious. He also told me how he became mostly a vegetarian. Jamie has the genetics for clogged arteries, and his doctor told him to lay off the fatty heart clogging foods, including steak, get more exercise and enjoy. Is this irony for a man who cooks steak for a living? Jamie is really a wonderful example of doing what you can with diet, exercise, no smoking, enjoying life, enjoying family as a prescription for a healthier life, rather than relying on pills and surgery. Jamie may have a taste of the steak he cooks from time to time to make sure things taste good for the restaurant, but he has not eaten a steak since his heart attack a few years ago. He also limits certain shell fish which is high in cholesterol. He spends time fishing and enjoying a pretty day with his youngest child who is just learning how to fish. He likes to hug people in joy.Mick Jagger from the London Evening Standard
My take away from my evening at Red Gables is that I will enjoy his steaks, in moderation. I will not waste my time, tastebuds, fat and cholesterol content on inferior beef, rather I will enjoy a great steak every once in a while. And, enjoying life, others companies and a hug now and again is a great way to live.
Stones' Studio Runs Out of Time
by Louise Jury
Sympathy for the studio: Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger
during sessions for Sympathy For The Devil,
recorded at Olympic Studios in June 1968
and filmed by Jean-Luc Godard"
Labels: Ohio Eats