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Red Sage
By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

| 605 14th St. NW
(202) 638-4444

Hours of Operation and Prices
Lunch: M-F 11:30-2; Entrees: $11.75-$14.50
Dinner: M-Sat 5:30-10:30, Sun 5-10; Entrees: $16-$31.50
Chili Bar: Sun-Th 11:30 am-11:30 pm, F-Sat 11:30 am-12:30 am; Entrees: $7.75-$10

Other Information
• Credit Cards: All major
• Reservations: Recommended for dining rooms; none for Chili Bar
• Dress: Casual
• Parking: Street
• Nearest Metro: Metro Center
• Handicapped accessible

The trick to enjoying Red Sage, so far as I'm concerned, is not to treat it like a Big Deal. As a serious restaurant, worthy of a big-bucks grilled swordfish or rack of lamb, it has too many flaws. Although the dining rooms are dramatic and colorful, with luxurious little Western details that somehow added up to millions spent on the construction, the place is noisy and clattery, too large to be personal. And the haute Southwestern food, brilliant though its colors and concepts may be, shows more flair than finesse.

Yet while a $70 dinner may be disappointing, a $20 lunch or a $15 bar meal can be great fun. I like Red Sage when I can eat with a minimum of ceremony - a bowl of chili or a glamorized burrito at an upstairs bar table at off hours, a quick lunch at the counter of the downstairs bar. Red Sage, despite its (inflated) reputation and its dinner prices, is not a Temple of Gastronomy. It is a sprawl of a restaurant that cooks to dazzle the eye and wake up jaded taste buds. It is a smashingly vivid site that tourists flock to see, and it adds spice and color to the downtown locals' lunch scene.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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