The Red Chair

February 28, 2014 – “A red chair always stands out in a crowd,” Barbara Whitney said.

I looked around.  My friend, BA, and I were sitting on black chairs.  So was everyone else in the room as far as I could see.

“Do you have a red chair?” I asked.

“We have one here somewhere.  It moves around,” she said.  “Oh, there it is.  Back there.”

Sure enough.  There was the red chair.  The only one.  In the very back of the room.  Standing out in the crowd.

And that’s how Barbara and her partner, David Seube, named their restaurant.

The Red Chair is located in the McKinley Building, which was the first high rise building in Anchorage, followed closely by the building now known as the Inlet Tower.  Now Anchorage has a beautiful urban skyline set against the backdrop of the Chugach Mountains.  But the McKinley Building was there first.

I ordered a cup of coffee when I was seated.  It turned out to be one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had.  Barbara told me they blend their coffee in house.  They know coffee.  They should.  Barbara and David operated a couple of coffee stands for several years before taking the plunge into being all in restaurateurs.  They opened the Red Chair in October of last year.

Chef Shana Whitlock has put together a very interesting menu.  I was drawn to several possibilities.  My first thought was pancakes.  I’d been craving them and the Red Chair offers cornbread pancakes.  That got my attention.  But then BA and I started discussing the menu with Barbara.

Before I knew it my taste imagination was dancing around like a cut power line. It was out of control.  Sparks flying all over.

I flopped from pancakes to the stuffed poblano pepper.  I love poblanos and the Red Chair fills theirs with cilantro and cheese, sausage and scrambled eggs, green onions, mushrooms and red peppers.  Hard to resist any of those things, especially when they’re packed into a poblano.

They offer both a traditional eggs Benedict as well as a “Tustumena Smokehouse” Benedict, replacing the ham with smoked salmon bacon.  Enticing.

Before I knew it I had been lured into the lunch menu.  A lot of temptation there.  They offer a hoagie with steak that they cure in house, served with a roasted garlic spread and caramelized onions.

I was briefly tempted by both the Tesla Burger and the Fanciful BLT.  But in the end I retreated, as I often do, to childhood memories.  I had seen it when I first sat down but was still focused on the cornbread pancakes.  My eyes kept going back to it.  In spite of the allure of so many other interesting dishes in my heart I knew where I would wind up.

BA ordered the Skyline Sandwich.  Chicken with applewood bacon and provolone with a smoked poblano aioli.  He was happy with the sandwich and the side of quinoa salad, which I sampled, was excellent.  Refreshing.  Snappy.

I ordered the Trailer Trendy.  Within minutes I was back at my grandmother’s house with a sandwich of thick-cut, fried bologna with tomato and peppered aioli on a hoagie roll.  It was accompanied by perfect French fries.  Thick cut slices of potato, cooked to the ultimate brown on the outside, impeccably soft on the inside.

The sandwich was terrific and fun.  Eating it just made the day sunnier.  And as for the fries…well, when fries are done right, there’s nothing better.  These fries were done right.

The Red Chair’s breakfast and lunch menus are imaginative.  Artistic even.  And Barbara told us they’re now open for dinner.

Yeah.  I’ll be back.  I’ll give the dinner menu a try.  Have to see if it’s as inspired as breakfast and lunch.

But first I have to try the cornbread pancakes.  They’re calling to me.  And I must answer.





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