Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Redwood Cafe

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Redwood Cafe

Article excerpt

Writing in the Post-Gazette in 1973, Geoffrey Tomb, the city's first-ever official dining critic and a man that could make chefs shake in their toques with the power of his prose, said of The Redwood in Donora:

"... water glasses are banned from tables, martini drinkers are scorned, smoking raises eyebrows. Admittance is by reservation only, an act which must usually be made weeks in advance. ... Inside the tiny dining room everything is Tiffany, from lamps to silver services. A fresh red rose dots every table."

Mr. Tomb named it as one of the top destinations in the region in his guidebook, "On Dining Out with Geoffrey Tomb," the first of three guides published while Tomb was the paper's dining critic."

Why the history lesson? Because Frank Tokach grew up in Donora and The Redwood inspired him to a career in the kitchen.

The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute graduate has worked in kitchens from private clubs in Pittsburgh to Caesar's Palace in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, to just about anything in between over the past 20 years. But the Redwood always captivated his imagination, and he hoped to return to his hometown someday to re-open it and restore it to its former glory.

That ended up not being in the cards, but when opportunity did knock it was in a physical space and location that both couldn't have been more different than the opulent Redwood in otherwise industrial Donora: the tiny old C.C.'s lunch counter space in upwardly mobile Mt. Lebanon.

Mr. Tokach paid homage with the name, RedWood Cafe, and he and co-owner Brian Dougherty are turning out high quality but unpretentious fare, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. They opened over the summer, in the narrow space with a tiny three table rear "dining room" and a half dozen seats at the counter. And they are a couple of genuinely nice dudes.

The menu is soup, sandwiches and salads, and specials including a daily quiche. A particularly good wedding soup is always available ($4), and daily soups specials ($3) have recently included a beef and bean chili and a rice, smoked pork and bean. Both had terrific flavor, but could've been a little thicker. …

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