Words and photos: Priya Konings
Red Light borrowed more than just its name from its Logan Circle neighborhood, the former home to D.C.’s red light district; it also borrowed its theme, sexy and sinful. The menu at Red Light represents the height of temptation: dessert and cocktails, dessert and wine, and then even more dessert. And after you sample their goods you will likely come to the same conclusion as I did: being bad has never tasted so good. Let’s start with rundown of some of the best desserts because the memory of all those cocktails is just making me feel hammered again, and then all I can remember is wanting to bathe in a bowl of chocolate-stout sauce.
All of the desserts at Red Light are surprisingly complex; each one is complete with complementing elements and depth of flavor, a feast for your eyes and your taste buds. The Black & Tan Donuts are the perfect example of this; plump pale ale beignets are piled high, beautifully dusted with powdered sugar and served with a fudge stout-chocolate sauce. Ideal for sharing with friends, this dessert makes the marriage of beer and chocolate seem like the most natural pairing in the world. Yes, chocolate and beer. Who knew? The Black & Tan Donuts will satisfy a chocolate craving, but true chocolate lovers should head straight for the Mexican Chocolate Tart. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just go directly to the chocolate tart. The sweet, spicy filling is a luscious treat and the cool milky gelato on the plate provides the perfect contrast to the tart. Little bruleed puffs of homemade marshmallow fluff on the side look like garnishes but are in fact are sweet little surprises of deliciousness.
Non-chocolate fiends, don’t worry there is plenty for you as well. The Goat Cheese Custard is tart but sweet, served on a crunchy, earthy quinoa crust and adorned with pineapple three ways: gelee, sauce, and gelato. There is also a variety of house made sorbets and gelatos available; flavors will depend on seasonal ingredients and Chef Robert Underwood’s creativity. Tip of the day: try the Meyer lemon sorbet that is currently being featured. It’s an icy, citrusy, and seasonal dessert, perfect for a sunny spring day. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, there is decadent cheese fondue served with fruit and bread which is great with a glass of wine. Now on to the cocktails. While you may imagine the cocktails at a dessert bar will be on the sweeter side, these drinks, courtesy of cocktail gurus Ari and Micah Wilder are heady, boozy concoctions that focus more on flavor than on sugar. The Peepshow is one of the most popular choices, a refreshing beverage made with ginger beer, Pimms, and cucumber, and garnished with a smoky sprig of rosemary. Yes, it’s actually smoky: they set it on fire tableside so it smolders while you drink, making the cocktail as attractive to smell as it is to taste.
The Sazarac is wonderfully bitter, perfect for cutting the sweetness of a dessert plate, and the Riverstone Slush, embellished with fresh berries, is frosty, fruity and herbaceous all at the same time. For a coffee-infused cocktail try the Irish Goodbye. Although be forewarned: with the combination of espresso, Irish whiskey, and absinthe, it may result in you having to giving a proper Irish goodbye to your friends.