You could say restaurateur Aaron Gordon has a bit of a sweet tooth. Three of his previous restaurants -- TangySweet, Red Velvet and the former Zeke's D.C. Donutz -- are focused on treats, and his newest restaurant, Red Light, takes it one step further with a menu built around desserts and champagne. (The two most important food groups, incidentally.) The 14th Street restaurant is scheduled to open April 10.
Chef Robert Underwood's menu features eight desserts, ranging from a Mexican chocolate tart to a light and fluffy goat cheese custard. Some of them are even boozy enough that guests ordering them will be carded, Gordon said. There are a few savory snacks like flavored popcorn and chorizo-stuffed dates, but you'll want to stop elsewhere in the neighborhood for dinner before you go to Red Light.
"We thought, 'What a great complement to all of these restaurants on 14th Street,'" Gordon said. "You have a great meal with them, and a dessert [at Red Light] afterwards ... We feel like we're going to be the first and last place you visit on a night out."
The drink menu, created by mixologists Ari and Micah Wilder of Federal Lounge, draws from the neighborhood's unsavory past -- not-so-subtly alluded to by the name Red Light -- as a place where prostitution and drugs were once rampant. Champagne cocktails include the "Street Corner Girl," with rum, coconut liqueur, pineapple nectar and champagne, and "The Madame," with rye, peach liqueur, ginger, lemon and prosecco. Even the desserts hint at something naughty: the aforementioned goat cheese custard includes a "pineapple three-way."
All of the servers at Red Light are also bartenders, and Gordon said they'll finish making the drinks tableside. The patio will be tented and heated on chillier days. And in warm weather, Red Light plans to set up an outdoor slushie machine for some icy refreshment. It's an ideal spot for sipping, people-watching and flirting.
"This has become D.C.'s promenade," Gordon said.
Red Light, 1401 R Street, NW. 202-234-0400.