The last time the 605 staff was in Spearfish, I wanted to kick myself.
“You’re just missing the opening of a new farm-to-table restaurant next week,” said several people.]
Legit by days we missed REDwater Kitchen. Fast forward to when we were in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (see cover story) in Lead, and someone underground was chatting about the new farm-to-table eatery in Spearfish and how delicious it was. Wearing my helmet and all, I muttered, “Are you serious?”
Fast forward to July, and praise be, we planned Spearfish into our Black Hills trip to ensure we could stop by.
As we pulled up, we realized it’s connected to Spearfish Brewing Company (win), and also realized it had a strong brand (double win). Black and red colors were played throughout the modern, intimate restaurant, with the knife and fork on the logo to infer “farm to fork.”
605 art director Liz Painter was with me, and we sat outside only for natural light for the photos. Our server was very helpful, and first up was one of the most popular items, the burger. Assistant general manager Shelly McCutchan came out, and I asked what the burger was called.
“It’s called The Burger,” she laughed.
Interesting choice. The Burger was made with local ground beef (from Sturgis), smoked ketchup, aged white cheddar, beer-braised onions, shredded lettuce, house pickle, tomato, and was completed with a kaiser bun.
Our side was a salad with cucumbers and ripe cherry tomatoes. The thick balsamic dressing topped it off. I started with the side salad, especially when I saw how red the tomatoes were. Yum.
I’m terrified of ketchup (I know… why am I reviewing food, you ask?), so I let Liz be the taster.
After awkwardly staring at her as she chewed, I saw her eyes light up. No, not from my silent stares, it was from the burger.
“Wow, this is really good,” she said.
As I asked her to describe any adjectives or anything to let me know why, she said, “I don’t know how else to say it. It’s just a really, really good burger. It’s easy to eat, and isn’t too massive”
Liz raved about the beer-braised onions, so I found a piece of meat and an onion that was untouched by the red devil, and tried it. They were dangerously (and I mean in a heartburn way, since I’m 33) good.
“It’s so moist,” said Liz, as she then dropped her piece on the table.
She quickly picked it up, and before placing it in her mouth said, “I don’t even care.”
Next up was the Strawberry Palm Salad. This feast for the eyes had strawberries, red onions, hearts of palm, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and truffle honey vinaigrette.
I went right for what I thought were water chestnuts, but they were the hearts of palm a.k.a. my new favorite thing. Liz hadn’t lifted her fork yet, and I whined, “Try it, try it, try it!”
“Okay,” she said (we were on day three of essentially living in a car together).
I’m not even a huge strawberry fan, but I would eat this salad again in a heartbeat with the vinaigrette, the spinach, and feta cheese, and my new bae, the hearts of palm.
Sadly, we had to move on to the next, which was the Korean Fried Chicken.
I was less sad after we dug into the dish, which is 48-hour marinated organic chicken thigh, smoked togarashi battered, with scallions, gojuchang sauce, and cucumber slaw.
If you named what food you would be by how much you consume it, I would be chicken. This was up my alley, and the crispy chicken had just the right spiciness. It was too much for Liz, who isn’t a huge fan of that type of seasoning anyway.
Liz totally dug the cucumber salad, though, which was a nice palete cleanser in between zingy chicken bites.
Once again, Liz had to remind me there was more to try as I kept pushing the dish away and then bringing it back for “one more.”
Last, but not least, was a dinner entrée, the 8 oz. Bavette Steak. This consisted of bacon-braised greens, quail egg, bloody mary rings, and chimichurri.
I feel I’ve shared this before, but I get odd joy out of cutting a runny egg over a dish. Liz wasn’t as impressed as I was, as I counted down before I sliced through it (again, I think she was over me at this point of the trip).
We both agreed that the steak did need a steak knife and was a little tough to cut with a butter knife. There were so many options of what to pair the meat with. Bloody Mary onion rings? Yes. Chimichurri? Oh, sure. Egg? Mighty fine. Bacon-braised greens? Works great for me.
“Everything is a great portion size,” said Liz.
It’s true. This definitely could be a place where you can share (but why would you?).
And did I mention throughout the experience that we were trying drinks from their talented mixologist (see side bar)? We got to sip on the “drink of the day,” the REDwater Sangria, with Zolo Malbec, Laird Applejack Brandy, Cointreau, orange juice, and mixed fruit garnish.
We also had the Cucumber Gimlet, which Liz is already a fan of as a cocktail in general. The drink is cucumber muddled in house-made simple syrup shaken with fresh squeezed lime juice and Tanqueray, served up and garnished with a fresh cucumber slice.
“This lists near the top,” she said. Boom. Approved.
REDwater also has an extensive beer and wine list, as well as the cocktail menu.
]As we thought this beautiful experience had come to the end, our amazing server brought out Chocolate Bouchon with Leones’ Creamery Thai Basil Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Leones’ Creamery. If you don’t know what this is, make it a priority.
The chocolate bouchon melted as soon as we hit it with our fork. And that Thai Basil Chocolate Chip Ice Cream… is now in my diary.
With Spearfish constantly growing, this is just another reason to enjoy the town full of outdoor adventure. I would go back for the dessert and cocktails alone. My favorite part was the fact that the meal with the most basic name, The Burger, was Liz’s favorite. She said, “It was just so full of flavor.”
There are bartenders, and then there are mixologists. Bar manager Kristjan Oleson is one, no doubt.
“To me, it’s a more fun chemistry class dealing with different mixers and different alcohol, and trying to find stuff that matches the menu, and give old classic cocktails a modern twist,” said Oleson.
There is a different drink feature every day, but Oleson recommends the Dead Man’s Hand, with a swirl of Lucid Absinthe, sugar, Courvoisier, lemon juice, and Champagne, served in a flute with a lemon twist.
He explained, “Dead Man’s Hand is different, and is something you don’t find a lot of places. Most places don’t even carry Absinthe.”
Located on the main street in Spearfish, this modern, clean, and artistic space is a great addition. It’s just the right size, and the patio is entertaining to sit at and watch the hustle and bustle downtown. While it’s nice, don’t fret about dressing up, as it’s still casual.
Mind you, the food is super fresh, and they strive to focus on local farms. The prices are fair, and they vary. You can order the Swedish Meatballs for $9, or you can order the Bavette Steak for $27.
There were so many flavors in every meal, and the sides were nice and light to offset any heavy entrees. All I know is that I never thought I’d say “heart of palm” in my life, and now it’s all I think about. And that dessert…
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Average Price Per Meal: $—$10 & under; $$—$20 & under; $$$—$30 & under; $$$$—over $30 | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
It’s the facts
REDwater Kitchen strives to use local vendors, like Sunrise Hives, Leones’ Creamery, Sturgis Meats, and more.
Check back in the fall for special coursed dinners featuring Lost Cabin Brewing Co., and cocktail classes with Kristjan Oleson.
Open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.