THE SCOOP #4: Red Rocks (not the amphitheater. unfortunately.)

SAMSUNGIf you Googled Red Rocks in search of a cool blog post about a concert at the Red Rocks amphitheatre in Colorado and stumbled upon this page, I regret to inform you that you’ve come to the wrong place. This post is about a locally-owned restaurant that has absolutely no relation to the infamous Red Rocks concert venue. Sorry. I would have much preferred to review a kick-ass show at Red Rocks amphitheatre than an average meal at Red Rocks Cafe in Huntersville, NC. But since I’m literally on the opposite coast of the US, this will have to do for now.

Restaurant: Red Rocks Cafe
Location: Birkdale Village in Huntersville, NC (1 of 2 locations in the Charlotte area)
Atmosphere:  Inside – casual/contemporary with cherry wood tables & chairs; Outside – very casual with iron patio tables & chairs, and a nice view of the Birkdale Village fountain
Service:  Somewhat slow and inattentive. Our appetizer was served without any silverware.  It was calamari covered in buffalo sauce. Tasty, but rather difficult to eat without utensils.

Drinks:  I can only vouch for the wine list – haven’t tried a cocktail here yet. Though not mind-blowing, it works. Typical by-the-glass selections from Woodbridge and Robert Mondavi, and a few surprises like Conundrum white blend and Apothic Red.
Apps:  All you need to know is that the calamari here is ridiculous. You’ll get thick calamari steaks cut julienne style (long strips) instead thin, of rubbery rings that take 5 min to chew. I have no idea how they get their hands on calamari of this quality but I’m a certified junkie.
Salads:  Normally I don’t bother describing salads in my reviews, but I must point out that Red Rocks offers 19 different salads. Yes, you read that right. You’ll find the typical wedge, caesar and greek style salads, as well as a few unusual selections, including one salad topped with french fries…  which clearly defeats any healthful purpose of ordering a salad.
Entrees:  Many, many options to choose from. Perhaps too many. 50 items, to be exact. The main categories are pasta, steaks & ribs, seafood, sandwiches and chef’s specialties. The chef’s specialties include everything from meatloaf to jambalaya, and there are also nightly specials. I ordered the special for the evening: pine nut encrusted halibut topped with a tomato-basil relish and served with wild rice risotto and broccolini. The fish was cooked nicely and the risotto was tasty and sinfully buttery, abeit not perfectly al dente.     
Desserts:  A nice selection of cakes and other treats can be viewed near the front of the restaurant at the bakery station. In a moment of sheer spontaneity on our way out, my hubby ordered a slice of the 5-layer chocolate cake to go, which we later enjoyed with a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon at home. The cake was moist and the frosting was decadent. Although, I might have said the same about a kitchen sponge after polishing off that bottle of wine.

Quality:  With so many items on the menu, no particular entrees really stand out; and while the food is well-prepared, it isn’t overly creative or especially memorable. But Red Rocks isn’t a fine dining establishment (nor does it claim to be), and it boasts plenty of return customers and a line out the door on weekend nights. Clearly they’re doing something right. 
Price:  Entrees range between $10 (burgers) and $45 (surf & turf), but the average entree price is a wallet-friendly $15 – $18.

Insider Tip:  Order the calamari. You will not be disappointed.

THE FINAL WORD:  Red Rocks is a reliable go-to spot in Birkdale for a respectable meal and nice ambiance, but it’s crazy busy on weekends due to limited dining options in the area, so make a reservation or be prepared to hang out at the bar for a while, waiting for your table. Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂