"You heading to the Auto Show this year?", queried Costanza. "I think so, but I'm not sure if I can go early", I replied. Turns out that he was thinking about a later time as well since he had to take his son for swimming lessons in the evening. For me, I had to wait for Viv to get home first. I decided to ask if Rich Guy and Vandelay wanted to join us and at first, both were hesitant. For Rich Guy, he had to take his daughter to her swimming lessons as well and Vandelay had to put his youngest to bed first. Yikes. How times have changed. Gone are the "last-minute-drop-what-you-are-doing-and-go" activities. I knew this a long time ago, but seems like we are all in the same boat. Well, since we were all out of our respective households, it was a good opportunity for us to grab some late night eats afterwards.
Trying to stay within the Downtown core, we took a stroll over to Red Card Sports Bar + Eatery. It seemed like a proper venue for 4 dudes right? Yah, well, imagine the banter when we decided to order 4 balls to share? Well, to be clear, they were 4 Arancini balls described on the menu as fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella, peas and prosciutto cotto with marinara. These were pretty good with a nice crisp non-greasy exterior kissed by some Parm. On the inside, the risotto was moist and flavourful maintaining some texture. It was certainly cheesy and zesty. Next up was the Portobello Fries. These reminded me of the ones at The Fray, but not as good. The biggest issue here was the crumb coating - it was far too thick. Hence, the mushroom got lost and in fact, didn't fully cook either (which is not too bad considering that overcooked would've been worse). The dense coating was quite crispy on the outside and once again kissed with Parm. However, it was a chore to eat and it felt like we were eating fried dense crumbs.
One thing that really stood out on the menu was the Red Card Poutine consisting of mild chicken curry, shredded mozzarella and hand cut Kennebec rosemary fries. I wanted to like this really badly, but in the end, it was kinda goopy and too mild for my tastes. Now, I completely understand why they didn't amp the spice level since they need to appeal to a wider audience. So I'll cut them some slack there. The bottom line was it did taste pretty good as a mild sauce. Now, I only wished they were a little less aggressive with it because most of the fries underneath soaked it up and became clumpy. The use of regular mozzarella was not the best choice either as it became lost in the curry. Moving past the appies, the other most prevalent item on the menu was the Neapolitan-style pizzas. As I quote Vandelay (who has actually been to Naples) from his previous visit (and this one too) at Red Card: "they have all the tools and ingredients to make a great pizza, but something gets lost in the process".
This was perfectly illustrated in the Margherita. From the looks of it, it was pretty legit with a crust made with caputo tipo "oo” flour topped with Fior di latte, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil and sea salt. We enjoyed the great tasting tomato sauce along with the cheese and fresh basil. The problem? The crust just didn't exhibit enough leoparding aka charring and blistering. Hence, it didn't have that rich nutty taste nor was it able to stand up to the wet ingredients. This was further exacerbated by the use of more toppings on the Hat Trick with Sausage, sopressata, bacon and mozzarella. It had great flavour but the crust just wilted and died on this one.
Trying to get a feel for the entire menu, we had the Italian Spiced Pulled Pork Sandwich. The meat itself was quite nice being in big chunks (which kept it both meaty and moist). The sauce itself was quite sweet while the coleslaw had no impact in terms of flavour nor texture. The bun held up quite nicely to the wet ingredients though. We also loved the fresh-cut Kennebec fries on their own rather than the poutine version. Lastly, we had the Rigatoni with a slow-cooked spicy ragu. This was actually not bad considering where we were. The pasta was al dente and the ragu was very meaty and spicy. There was actually quite a lot of meat hidden within the pasta. In the end, the food was hit and miss. However, if we take into account that Red Card is more than just about the food (like catching the game and/or for some brews), the overall experience was decent.
- Pretty nice dining space
- A good place to hang out and catch the game
- Food is hit and miss
- Service was friendly, but was rather confused and forgetful