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Boston Food & Drink Website|Sunday, December 21, 2014
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Red Lantern: Cocktails and Bar Bites 

Rock Shrimp Tempura
Chic. Exaggerated. Sexy. Three guesses to which Back Bay spot can be described by these four words. It’s one of the handful of both afterwork and after dusk hot spots on Stanhope Street: Red Lantern.
We sidled up to the bar for afterwork cocktails and bar bites on a Friday. I’d say we made quite a dent in both cocktail and appetizer menus. (This venture was unexpected, but too fun not to share, so I apologize for the iPhone pictures.)
The cocktail menu features wines and sake by the glass, beer on draft and bottled, martinis (served up), cocktails (highball or even tiki) and two scorpion bowls (serves four, $44) appropriately named Yin and Yang. Of course, we stuck to the cocktail portion of the menu. It’s hard for me to pass up any drink involving basil, nevermind when Hendrick’s gin is the main sprit, so I started with the Sumo. Crisp and refreshing for a martini, I would order this again on our next visit.
Sumo; Hendrick’s, fresh basil, grapefruit, sparkling rosé ($14)
Jon decided to go for the Tokyo, a fitting take on a classic Manhattan made with Japanese scotch. He enjoyed it, and I was impressed by the small sip that I took.
Tokyo; Suntory Yamazaki 12 whiskey, sweet vermouth, orange bitters ($14)
I have a simple requirement for cocktails: not too sweet! After a brief conversation with our friendly bartender, he convinced me to try the saketini as my next drink.  It’s easy to go overboard with St Germain, but it was a very well-balanced cocktail.  The rose water provided a strong floral nose, but was much less powerful in taste.
Rose Petal Saketini; Grey Goose, St. Germain, Ozeki Sake, Rose Water ($12)
We started off with a few appetizers, then decided to add a few more and call this meal our dinner.  The first appetizers were on the small portion side, and the later ones were much larger portions, resulting in maybe one appetizer too many for us.  Here I have laid them out in order of my personal preference.
Rock Shrimp Tempura; Coconut sriracha, Chili macadamia nuts ($14)
Creamier in texture than we expected, but full of flavor and a fun take on a traditional tempura.
Wood Fired Beef Skewers; Kalbi been, bean sprout salad, crushed cilantro ($12)
Beef cooked to a nice medium-medium rare, on skewers that make for easy sharing and the cool cilantro perfect for dipping.
Duck Buns; hoisin duck, mirin pickles, warm steamed buns ($10)
This appetizer is delicious, and fun to say! Buns were melt-in-your-mouth soft.  The tart pickles (barely pictured to the right) compliment the sweet hoisin duck.
Boneless Spareribs; smoked char sui, licorice ($12)
We are spoiled by the boneless spareribs at Bernard’s and I felt these didn’t live up to the comparison. The pork had good flavor, but was a touch on the tough side and the creamy cole slaw, although tasty, was unexpected and we would have preferred it on the side.
Pork Dumpling; pan fried, elephant garlic soy ($12)
Traditional pan-fried dumplings rounded out our marathon of tasty appetizers that allowed us to try several menu items and walk away completely satisfied.  Although we ate at bar on this occasion, I also envision Red Lantern as a great option for a large party dinner, where everyone orders one menu item and then shares with the rest of the table.  Also, a perfect excuse to try one of their scorpion bowls! Judging by the quality of their cocktails, I would expect their bowls to be above and beyond most others.  I was expecting Red Lantern to have good cocktails, but I wasn’t expecting to be so enamored by their food.  I’m already hoping we can get back their soon!
Have you been to Red Lantern? What was your favorite dish?

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