Ten Questions for Anthony Campbell of Redwing Café in Rainier Beach, Seattle

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Redwing Café

When my chosen family in Seattle moved to the Rainier Beach, Seattle, neighborhood a year and a half ago, one of the first restaurants to which they introduced me was Redwing Café. I was immediately smitten with the entire restaurant, from the healthy menu selections to the warm and friendly atmosphere, to the art adorning the walls. Since my first visit, I have returned to Redwing Café every trip to Seattle. During one of my visits last year, we bought some of Redwing Café’s vegan biscuits for a sparkling wine brunch my family and I hosted. Needless to say, I was thrilled to finally meet and interview co-owner Anthony Campbell and share Redwing Café’s story.

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One of Redwing Café amazing dishes

I heard that your entry into cooking and the food industry was baking. Please share your story. 
I was a contractor for many years but was ready for a change. I always cooked at home but decided to teach myself to bake and it worked.

What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
There were no restaurants near our home in Rainier Beach. I had worked in a vegetarian restaurant in the past and my wife and I decided to just go for it.

Is Redwing Café your first restaurant? How did you choose the name? How long have you been business? 
Yes, this is my first and only restaurant. My wife, Su Harambe, and I opened it four and a half years ago. I chose the name because my grandparents lived in Red Wing, Minnesota. When I was a kid we would visit often. It was a place I loved that felt very homey, someone was always glad to see you when you arrived.  I wanted the café to have that kind of a feeling. Like coming to our home for breakfast or lunch or just to hang out with coffee and a pastry. And, I think we achieved that.

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A brunch sandwich at Redwing Café

Why did you select your location in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle?
We have lived in Rainier Beach for the last 15 years and loved the neighborhood. We were missing a café, and we wanted one that embraced the entire community. I wanted to offer healthy food in a beautiful atmosphere. It is important to me that everyone feels welcomed by me and my friendly staff.

Will you share with us details about your restaurant’s concept and décor, especially the art element?
We worked with what we had, so a lot of things in the café were re-purposed. The beautiful wood walls just appeared when I removed the drywall. The exposed framing is for 2x4s nailed directly to each other. We cleaned up the wood and finished it with linseed oil. We like color and art and wanted to have all of these elements as part of Redwing. The art shows change every two months and we try to show mostly local art. All proceeds of art sales go to the artists. Art is a very important part of the experience here and my wife works hard to find lots of beautiful art to hang.

Is Redwing Café vegetarian? What is your style of cooking and baking?
Yes, Redwing Café is all vegetarian. We offer many vegan options as well as plenty of gluten free items. My wife and I have been vegetarians for most of our adult lives, so that was natural for us. The style of cooking and baking is pretty simple. We like the pastries to never been overly sweet. You should enjoy the flavors rather than being shocked by sweetness. The menu items are healthy and meat free, but we hope they are also appealing to people who are not vegetarian.

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My brunch with the indescribably delicious vegan biscuit

I am a huge fan of your vegan biscuits, thanks to my dairy-free friend, Gary, and I am a Southern girl that demands a lot from her biscuits. Will you share with us why and how you came up with the idea and recipe? What are some of the other customer and staff menu favorites? 
It was just a matter of trial and error until the perfect biscuit emerged. The Harambe salad is quite popular and it uses the lemon tahini dressing from an old Seattle favorite, Gravity Bar. My wife and I both worked there and since it no longer exists the owner gave us the go ahead to put it on our menu. Our almond croissants are quite popular. And of course, the vegan biscuits and gravy are a hit. For many of the vegan pastries, we use Earth Balance (vegan buttery sticks) in place of butter. The secret to the vegan biscuit is olive oil. The gravy contains hemp milk, cashews, almonds, and rice flour, among other things, all blended to a creamy consistency.

Do you have a philosophy as it relates to food, beverage, and hospitality?
We want things to be tasty, healthy and beautiful. We like everyone to feel like we are welcoming them into our home, our family and our community. Because of that feeling people seem to come in and join into that community and make new friends here. Kids seem to feel really comfortable at Redwing as well.

Do you have plans to open additional locations or restaurants? Why or why not?
No more. This is plenty of work and this was as much about Rainier Beach as it was about me owning a restaurant. It would be hard to duplicate in a neighborhood in which we weren’t so involved.

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A glimpse inside of Redwing Café

Do you have any additional information you would like to share with the readers, such as forthcoming menu items, events, etc.?
Yes, an event! May 10th from 6pm to 9pm we are hosting a fundraiser and art opening to benefit the Twilson Mack short film production, 703 – short, gay, and delicious. Featuring live music from Moon Dial, the evening will also be the official opening of writer/director Tom McIntire’s show of paintings of 703’s short, gay, and/or delicious cast members.

Redwing Café
9272 57th Ave S
Seattle WA 98118
Phone: (206) 420-1706
Email: redwingcafeseattle@gmail.com
Hours:
Tues – Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat & Sun 8am – 4pm
Closed Mondays

Brunch with Friends: Sparkling Wines and Healthy Food Choices for All Budgets

2018-09-29 11.30.29For many, brunch is the earliest meal of the day when alcoholic beverages are deemed socially acceptable. It often conjures up images of Mimosas and Bloody Marys and calorie-laden breakfast and lunch foods, because after all, brunch is two meals rolled into one. People who brunch usually have limitless finances to spend on this leisurely and lavish, decadent meal. However, what if brunch were both more, and less, than that? What would happen if we envisioned brunch as a warm, casual meal for everyone, an educational experience, even a healthy approach to eating and drinking? The latter is the approach that friend, chef, and photographer, Gary Monday, decided to pursue when we planned our intimate brunch with friends.

Both Gary and I have been through major lifestyle changes in our lives, which have resulted in great weight losses and improved health and fitness. We both have learned which foods are good for our bodies. We also both discovered a passion for sparkling wines as standalone or food wines. They are lighter in style, lower in alcohol, available for all budgets, and fit with our newfound lifestyles.

With this vision, I invited sparkling wine producers to contribute to our brunch. We received seven wines at all price points from Italy, California, Michigan, and Virginia. Suggested retail prices ranged from $17 per bottle to $55 per bottle and case production ran the gamut from 109 cases to 240,000 cases. The samples included wines made both in the traditional and charmat methods, the difference being secondary fermentation in the bottle or tank. The wines were made from a variety of grapes: chardonnay, chardonel, glera, muscat, and pinots – noir, gris, and meunier.

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Gary created a menu that he called Southern/Pacific Northwest infused food, a nod to both his North Carolina roots and current home in Seattle. His expenses were around $110 to feed six people, a brunch bargain. Food included bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers; grilled pork loin and salmon; a kale, citrus, and pomegranate salad; a fresh fruit bowl; and biscuits and gravy. Since Gary is dairy free, he made dairy-free sausage gravy and purchased vegan biscuits from Redwing Café in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, along with making traditional milk-based sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits. While all the food was amazing, the attendees delightfully discovered that the standouts were perhaps the healthiest foods: the grilled salmon; the kale, citrus, and pomegranate salad; the Redwing Café vegan biscuits; and the dairy-free gravy.

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Gary learned the kale recipe in a dairy-free cooking class taught by Danielle Premo. Perfect for brunches and holidays, ingredients included kale from Full Circle – a community supported agriculture (CSA) delivery company – clementine oranges, pomegranate seeds, candied pecans, and Danielle’s dressing made from orange juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The kale is massaged with the dressing, left to sit for 15 minutes, then the clementine orange slices and pomegranate seeds added. The finished salad is garnished with the candied pecans. The beauty of this salad is that it can be prepared ahead of time without the kale becoming soggy. In fact, the flavors integrate the longer they are together.

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For the dairy-free sausage biscuit gravy, Gary used the drippings from cooking bacon, sausage, and pork loins. He added all-purpose flour and cooked on medium heat until he had a thick paste in the pan. He introduced unsweetened cashew milk slowly until the desired consistency was achieved. He reduced the stove to low heat for simmering and thickening, stirring continuously, while adding salt and pepper to taste.

Gary bought vegan biscuits from Redwing Café, which specializes in healthy food options. I contacted the owners to ask what makes these biscuits vegan and they explained that they use olive oil and hemp milk in place of butter and buttermilk. After tasting these, I may never have another traditional biscuit again.

2018-09-29 11.03.47One of our brunch guests was Rhonda Hamlin, biscotti maker and owner of The Art of Crunch. As the dessert finale, in honor of National Biscotti Day, she contributed samples of her handcrafted biscotti, including a special test flavor for all of us to try and contribute our input as to the final recipe. It is not often I veer off my strict eating path, but these biscotti were a delicious way to conclude our brunch. To learn more about The Art of Crunch, visit this link to read my interview with Rhonda.

The beverage stars of our brunch were the seven sparkling wine samples we received. As an educational tasting experiment, we gave our guests an index card for each wine and asked that they take notes on the wines they enjoyed the most and with which foods, then we discussed the results. Below are our collective thoughts.

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Photo by Adami Vigneto Giardino

2017 Adami Vigneto Giardino Asciutto Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Rive di Colbertaldo, SRP $22, 3700 cases produced
Across the board, our brunch attendees chose this wine as one of their top wines of the day, two writing “#1” and “Favorite! <3” on their index cards. In fact, someone said, “I didn’t know Prosecco could taste like this!” This floral, fruity, and spicy sparkling wine made from 100% glera, charmat method, was mesmerizing. It was also one of the most versatile food wines, pairing well with nearly everything, especially the fruit salad, biscuits with raspberry jam, even Rhonda’s biscotti.

Enrico Serafino Rose' 3
Photo by Enrico Serafino

2015 Enrico Serafino Brut Rosé Alta Langa DOCG, SRP $26, 5000 cases produced
This Brut Rosé, made from 100% pinot nero (noir) in the traditional method, was light in color, but big on flavor, exhibiting clean, bright raspberry and redcurrant flavors cradled in yeastiness. A hint of sweetness was beautifully offset by mouthwatering acidity. This wine was a perfect match for our kale salad.

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Photo by Frank Family Vineyards

2013 Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs, Carneros, SRP $55, 500 cases produced
This is wine that our attendees said tasted “the most like Champagne.” Made in the traditional method and hand riddled, the Blanc de Blancs was the elegant, grande dame of our brunch. Fine mousse, brioche, and freshly cut, tart apples dominated the palate of this lovely 100% chardonnay sparkler, which was the preferred pairing with grilled salmon and pork loin.

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Photo by Frank Family Vineyards

2014 Frank Family Vineyards Brut Rosé, Carneros, 2014 SRP $55, 1000 cases produced
I admit, I jumped the gun when I tasted this wine, exclaiming that it was my favorite. I am Brut Rosé gal through and through, and this blend of Carneros-grown 88% pinot noir and 12% chardonnay did not disappoint, bursting with red berries and a pleasantly creamy mouthfeel. One of our guests wrote, “Love it! This is great all by itself!” Our favorite food pairings were strawberries, the kale salad, and biscuits with raspberry jam. Click here to read how this wine gives back during the month of October.

Mawby
Photo by L. Mawby/M. Lawrence

NV L. Mawby/M. Lawrence Sex, Michigan, SRP $17, 246 cases produced
With a name like Sex and a price point of $17, how could you not like this wine? This sparkler, a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and muscat, was dry and crisp, with an interesting juxtaposition of cotton candy and white grapefruit on the palate, making it a fantastic accompaniment to fresh fruit. Exclaiming, “Yes, yes, yes!”, we drank every drop of this wine. Of course, it left us wanting more.

Mumm
Photo by Mumm Napa Valley

NV Mumm Brut Prestige, Napa Valley, SRP $24, 240,000 cases produced
If you want a sparkling wine that consistently delivers palate-pleasing flavors and is and affordable enough to drink anytime you feel like bubbles, Mumm is the wine for you. A blend of 45% chardonnay, 45% pinot noir, and 10% pinot gris and meunier, Mumm’s signature wine is made in the traditional method. On the palate, think pears with a honeyed quality, coupled with soft effervescence. The Brut Prestige complemented rich foods like bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers, biscuits and gravy, and grilled salmon. With a quarter of a million cases produced, Mumm is most likely available right around the corner from you.

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Photo by Gary Monday

2016 Rosemont of Virginia Brut, Virginia, SRP $25, 109 cases produced
This wine was the most unique of all the wines we tasted. The only brut nature (no dosage) of the lineup and made from 100% chardonel (a cross between chardonnay and Seyval) using the charmat method, this wine showed zingy, citrus fruit flavors like white grapefruit, lemon, and lime. The bone dryness and racy acidity cut through the fattiest foods, like bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers, sausage gravy, and grilled salmon. This vintage is sold out, but next year’s vintage will be released in early 2019.