KENILWORTH – Just a year after opening, the Red Knot Gastro Pub is making a name for itself, even though it is not easy to find.
Located inside the Clubhouse at Galloping Hill Golf Course, Red Knot might be confused by the public as a restaurant open only to members, but Food and Beverage Director Richard Spaulding wants everyone to know it is anything but private.
“I think the fact we are located on a 271-acre golf course with little signage is a detriment, but over the last year people who visit the restaurant either for lunch or dinner are spreading the word,” he said in an interview with LocalSource this week.
Spaulding, who previously worked in the same capacity at David Drake in Rahway, came aboard when the finishing touches were just being put on this restaurant and banquet facility, which backs up to the Garden State Parkway.
With a 50-seat dining room and 20-seat bar area featuring a fantastic view of the rolling golf course, in addition to 70 seats for outdoor dining on the patio during warmer seasons, Spaulding knew the Red Knot had to offer something new and different.
One of his first duties, among many others, was to find a first-rate chef to oversee a staff of 30 and produce a menu that was exciting and different.
This food and beverage director admitted that from a field of 30 chefs who applied for the position, Ralph Romano stood out because of his experience all over the world and in nearby New York City.
“We were going in a more casual gastro pub theme direction, which is very appealing to diners at lunch and dinner,” explained Spaulding.
Once Romano, a Westfield resident, took the helm, it was evident, Spaulding said, this executive chef knew how to please the palate.
Romano attended the French Culinary Institute and then headed back to New York City for six months before taking on a four-year apprenticeship at the Four Seasons in Mexico City.
As a former executive chef at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn and longtime part of the culinary world traveling team at Marriot International, Ritz Carlton Central Park and the Four Seasons Hotel, Romano had a long list of experience and the chutzpah to make Red Knot a unique place to grab a quick lunch or linger over a special four-star quality dinner.
“We wanted to be a great restaurant that just happens to be on a golf course,” he said, adding that Romano came up with a menu that changes regularly but still offers lunch and dinner customers something different.
“You can order from our full menu or enjoy a three-course prix fixe menu, or upgrade to a chef’s tasting menu that can be offered with carefully selected wine pairings,” Spaulding said, adding the chef’s tasting menu is customized for every group based on diners’ preferences.
Open seven days a week, Red Knot offers a signature burger on the lunch menu, which Spaulding said is a steak blend with fried egg, Taylor ham, American cheese and crispy onion straws.
Diners who love pizza will not be disappointed either because this restaurant offers 10-inch traditional delights along with pies like the unusual caramelized cauliflower and mouthwatering calamari.
The lunch menu also features such favorites as sliders, fish tacos, chicken wings and homemade empanadas. And the diner in a hurry can try the express lunch, which consists of soup or salad and a wrap sandwich.
When the sun begins to set and diners are seeking a more extensive menu, Spaulding said Romano outdoes himself with such entrees as summer cioppino, grilled duck breast, double-cut pork chop, kimchi meatloaf with wasabi mashed potatoes and crispy free range chicken that is paired with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe.
Spaulding also pointed out that the bar offers a great selection of bottle and draft beers, including Galloping Hill Beer, an ale brewed specifically for the restaurant by Climax Brewery in Roselle.
“We also have a winning wine list of interesting wines from around the world as well as many other delicious selections,” Spaulding said.
In their debut season, Red Knot let customers in on some of their secrets with culinary classes that will be coming back this fall.
“It was a hit even though we kept it to 12 people,” said Spaulding, who added that students learned how to make pizza, dabbled at cupcake decorating and even got in a little experience in wine selection and bartending.
The Red Knot is easily accessed at the Galloping Hill Golf Course entrance on Kenilworth Boulevard right off the Parkway in Kenilworth.
“Although there is not a big sign letting diners know we are here, if you see the golf course sign, turn in, and you are almost there,” said Spaulding.
“I think once people learn we are open to the public seven days a week, we will have a steady influx of residents from the area,” said the director, adding that this is the perfect time of the year to sit outside and enjoy a great dinner at sunset.