An excerpt from the posted rules at the Red Door Cafe:
“No egg white orders. If you alter our menu, you will be spanked and sent home to cook for yourself.”
“No ‘ice water with lemon’ and no ‘just hot water.’ It is cheap, suburban and annoying.”
“No angry, entitled and Alpha spoilt mama’s boys or angry-cheerleader wannabe girls.”
Lazy bloggers have compared the Red Door’s owner-chef to the Soup Nazi, but that doesn’t begin to describe this sassy, saucy, eventually exhausting man.
His name is A.D. and he looks like an escapee from a 1970s roller-rink flick: sleeveless T, hot pants, cherry tattoo and a bright-pink trucker cap (with Farrah hair cascading out the sides).
When I first arrived, A.D. led me by the hand to read his extensive rules. He needed to be sure I was a good fit.
“Are we going to be friends?” he asked, mischief in his eyes. I’m no spoilt Alpha: “Sure, I love
He gave my beard a little tug to seal the deal, then cooed some naughty words I won’t repeat. That’s part of A.D.’s entrance exam: Can you deal with some verbal heavy petting? It’s relentless, and explicit.
After being deemed fit for consumption, I queued up for the long haul. The wait spanned hours — there are only 12 seats — but A.D. stoked morale with ribald stories and snacks. I wolfed down barbecue beans and kale while loudspeakers blasted sexy jams (“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”).
Near the entrance, I was handed a misshapen, filthy baby doll, signifying I was among the chosen. Each horrid nestling had a name; mine can’t be mentioned here.
Inside, A.D. was everywhere at once, sashaying around, sitting on diners’ laps, sharing his bedroom preferences and food with equal gusto.
That’s right, food. Eating may be secondary to the spectacle, but this is, technically, a restaurant.
Red Door’s food was similar to the atmosphere — pleasant enough, though sometimes gaudy and over the top. Some items suffocated under their weighty constructs.
Case in point: the marshy Cuban tacos — the dish’s official name rhymes with “two kitties” — crammed full of bacon bits, corn, fried eggs, spicy Cajun hummus, lemon pepper aioli, lime cilantro salsa and a homemade balsamic sauce. Hold the ... something.
Roll My Cuban was another heavy-handed affair, a sandwich-thick egg, ham, bacon, bean and cheese quesadilla, punctured with tropical umbrellas and foot-high fruit skewers. This one came with so many sauces and accoutrements that A.D. had to tutor me on assembling a bite.
But the French Toast Josephine was fluffy and light, piled high with banana, berries and almond slivers.
And the Park Your Wife and Taste My Salmon displayed a continental restraint: smoked salmon, wild rocket (aka arugula), crème fraiche and sunny-side-up eggs on fresh bâtard bread, with a splash of mango-pumpkin turmeric sauce.
And don’t miss the, um, I’m Nothing But a Sloppy Vegetarian Whore, a fiery sloppy joe hash with minted English peas, sunny-side-ups and mixed greens, served on sweet Hawaiian buns.
Food aside, have I truly conveyed the dimensions of A.D.’s mad carnival? Hard to say, but I was tired. A three-hour brunch will do that to you.
On my way out, I gave A.D. a smooch on the cheek and thanked him for the love. I couldn’t wait to call my non-San Francisco friends, to prove this city justifies their teasing.