A new dinner club debuting July 27 is asking diners to sip sherry instead of sake with their Japanese food. "Geography doesn’t have to keep you in the same place anymore,” says Mockingbird Hill's Chantal Tseng says. The sherry enthusiast is making a case for pairing Asian cuisine with fortified wine from Jerez. “We’re asking people to drop all pre-conceived notions and try it.”
Tseng is part of a three-woman team debuting a dinner club series called Redeye Menus, which focuses on marrying sherry with food from Japan, Cambodia, India, and beyond. Although she remains a co-owner at Shaw sherry bar Mockingbird Hill, Tseng recently stepped away from day-to-day operations, freeing her up for passion projects like this one. Her partners in Redeye Menus include Carlie Steiner, formerly a bartender at Barmini, and Holly Barzyk, who helps area restaurants like Daikaya and Tabard Inn with marketing, social media, and events.
“If you were to take a flight from the south of Spain, where sherry lives, to anywhere in Asia, it would be and overnight trip, a redeye trip,” Tseng says of the name. “It’s about bringing sherry to the food.”
The first opportunity to experience Redeye Menus is Thursday, July 27 at Crane & Turtle in Petworth. The evening, dubbed “Crane in Spain,” will feature a six-course menu prepared by the restaurant’s executive chef, Makoto Hamamura. Tseng will pair each course with a Gonzalez Byass sherry, and Steiner will craft both a welcome and farewell cocktail. Expect to try steamed oysters with shishito pepper, kelp and Sichuan peppercorn oil, and a delicate Verlasso salmon dish with white corn, bamboo shoots, Thai basil, and green Thai chili. The dinner costs $100 per person including drinks, tax and tip. Choose between a 5:45 p.m. or a 8:30 p.m. seating when booking tickets online.
Redeye Menus’ ultimate goal is to nudge diners into concluding that sherry and Asian food are meant to be, something that Tseng first noticed when she sipped an amontillado alongside miso soup. “Scientifically speaking, sherry doesn't contain umami like tomatoes, mushrooms, and miso, but it works really well with umami rich dishes,” Tseng explains. “It’s like having two great friends and finally introducing them to one another.”
Redeye Menus plans to hold a dinner once a month at a different restaurant, but they’re not calling it a “pop-up.”
“I kind of don’t like the word pop-up, it sounds like you’re in, you’re out, and you don’t care,” Barzyk says. “We care.”
Photo of Holly Barzyk and Chantal Tseng by Laura Hayes