A rainy Wednesday night – not the most popular time to go out after work for “summer drinks” – but you wouldn’t know that if you walked into Red Lantern. I went over to check out this new hot spot with a few colleagues last night. I was a bit hesitant in that the big lantern/heavy wooden doors/Asian thing can easily be made into a cheesy themepark-like experience but I was proven wrong once I stepped inside.
This space is large, airy, colorful and somewhat magical. It feels much more like a place you’d go to in Manhattan than in Boston (that’s a compliment). A new late night alternative was desperately needed in our sleepy city and I think that the Big Night Entertainment Group (mainly of Foxwoods fame) have struck a great balance of chic and comfy at Red Lantern. It’s got a lounge vibe that makes you want to hang out for hours without having low ceilings and too many dark corners. The kitchen is open until 1:30am and the bar is open until 2:o0am. So I give them an A on ambience and on finding the perfect niche in the already crowded bar/restaurant space.
So what about the rest? I don’t usually do a lot of restaurant write-ups so I won’t go on and on about the menu but I will say that our server was adorable (she was almost too adorable in her black bustier) and attentive. The drink menu is creative and extensive featuring the standard scorpion bowls, a long list of martinis, loads of rum cocktails and our table favorite – the grass-fed mule. The food menu resembles a fancier version of P.F. Chang’s except that it has an impressive sushi offering. We decided to indulge on some munchies while we took in the scene. The crispy calamari was hot and tasty, the lettuce wraps were flavorful and the pan-fried pork gyoza were salty and perfectly cooked. The best part? The portions were generous! No dainty girl servings here. I ran into some old colleagues who were having a group dinner and they raved about their food as well. I looked around the table (trying not to salivate – I still had to eat dinner when I got home) and I had food envy. The food looked fresh and tempting. So, on food, drinks and service, I give it a B+. Why the lower score? I need to leave room for improvement! Plus I’d like to see even more variety on the food menu.
I’ll be heading back to Red Lantern soon. I get to enjoy alcohol again in about two weeks and the bamboo juice is calling my name. If you’re looking for a spot to catch a bite and a drink (even at midnight), this just may be the place.
Red Lantern – 39 Stanhope Street, Boston