DINING: Hard-to-top fare at Red Rooster Café in Micco

MICCO — The Red Rooster Café in Micco is one of my favorite places. The Hahn family restaurant is small, friendly and serves great food.

Now, mix in some great dinner specials and a visit becomes even more pleasurable. We went last Thursday night to sample the current special – buy one dinner and get the second dinner at half price – which is good until Feb. 9.

When we arrived, seven of the nine tables were taken and the restaurant bustled to say the least.

Joti Hahn, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Robert, seated us in no time and we ordered appetizers as we sipped our beers and wine.

Our first pick was the appetizer special of the night, a smoked fish spread ($6.95) with homemade Red Rooster chips, emblazoned with the distinctive restaurant rooster brand.

We also ordered the fresh mozzarella with tomatoes ($6.95) and the spinach and artichoke dip ($7.95). Two of our companions also order cups of crab bisque ($2.95.)

The mozzarella with tomatoes arrived at the table amid a savory cloud of basil that was spread over the cheese and tomato slices and really kicked our appetites into high gear. The ingredients were sprinkled with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

The smoked fish was very tasty and not overwhelmingly fishy.

The homemade chips were great for spearing large dabs of the fish spread.

Our spinach and artichoke dip was baked in a bread bowl and topped with shredded cheese.

“This is beautifully done,” said one companion, who had the dish set in front of him. “This is outstanding.”

No one at the table could disagree with him. It was hot and satisfying on a rather chilly night.

The two dining companions who ordered the bisque raved about it.

“This is fabulous. I like bisque and this is the best I’ve ever had,” said one who is rather picky and fussy about what he eats. He loved the chunks of crab and what he described as “the savory” mix of sherry and cream.

One companion ordered the special of the night – grouper and shrimp piccata ($26.95.) Another picked the Cornish game hen ($16.95), I selected the chicken Oscar ($16.95) and another ordered the veal marsala ($19.95.)

Our companion told us his grouper and shrimp piccata was “simply marvelous.”

It really must have been because it disappeared from his plate in short order.

“The butter sauce was delicious and nicely done and I liked the capers,” he said.

I really liked my chicken Oscar, a grilled skinless chicken breast topped with a crab cake, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce. It came with farmhouse smashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of peas, carrots and broccoli. The chicken was tender and the crab cake full of good-sized chunks of crab. The potatoes and vegetable medley were a nice accompaniment to the dish.

The Cornish game hen was roasted and stuffed with pecans and served with a rosemary cream sauce over rice pilaf and also came with the vegetable medley. Our friend loved it and with a wink called it “a naughty little hen.”

The final dinner, the veal marsala, also was beautifully prepared with light breading and a delicious marsala sauce.

For dessert, we ordered the crème brulee, bread pudding and carrot cake, all priced at $4.95. All three were terrific and we would have been hard pressed to pick a favorite.

All dinners come with fresh baked rolls and a choice of garden, spinach or Caesar salad. All the salads are well above average but my favorite remains the Caesar.

Dinner for two with appetizer, dessert and beer or wine will run about $55 plus tip.

That’s an extraordinary value for the quality of the food at Red Rooster Café.

The Red Rooster Café is worth the effort it takes to find it. It’s located at the end of a small strip mall at Micco Road.

Chef Steve Hahn, the chef at the Yellow Dog Café in Malabar for nine years, knows what he’s doing in the kitchen.

The welcome is like going to grandmother’s house, but the food’s on a completely different level.

The Red Rooster offers beer and wine by the glass and has an extensive wine list with prices ranging from $22 to $85 although a large selection falls in the $22-$29 range.

Check out its website for regular specials and special events.

The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of the Sebastian River News.

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