It’s going to be a beautiful spring season in New Harmony. If you’d like to enjoy the sunny meal on a lovely patio, the Red Geranium restaurant is just the spot!
Veteran Evansville Chef Steve Williams is at the helm and is bringing his signature elegant, streamlined style to the table.
“I started learning how to cook from my mother when I was in about the third grade, and I knew then that I wanted to be a chef,” he said. “I really, really enjoy it, and I’ve learned from a lot of the greats around here.”
Williams has spent time working with local chefs Doug Rennie, Chris Scott, Wes Rose, Nick Weisenborn and Jeremiah Galey at locations from Victoria National Golf Club to the NW Chophouse to The Dapper Pig and Amy’s on Franklin. He has been a chef or sous chef at the Henderson Country Club, Western Ribeye and Café Arazu among others.
This winter, he was the chef at The Hornet’s Nest when he got a call from Wes Rose. “The Hornet’s Nest was a very good experience; there were a lot of good people there,” he said. “Then Wes called one day and said, ‘Hey man, I’m up here at the Red Geranium, what would you think about coming up here to grill for me?’ I said I’d love to, because we have a lot of fun together and I’d take the opportunity to work with him again. He’s always been very supportive of my creativity.” But the best laid plans sometimes go awry, and shortly after Williams’ arrival Rose was presented with other opportunities he couldn’t turn down.
The management of the New Harmony Inn and the Red, however, liked Williams’ style and were happy for him to take over the kitchen.
“It was pretty amazing that I had the support of all those people,” Williams said. “I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards Caesar (Alvarez) and the rest of the management, the front of the house, all the servers and staff and especially my kitchen crew. I could not do this without any of them and I am very humbled to work with people of that caliber.”
Right now, the Red is open Friday night, Saturday all day, and Sunday brunch. Because of winter restrictions, the entree menu is limited but solid with dishes such as French onion soup, salads, a bacon wrapped beef filet, Pecan Chicken with Caramel Apple Sauce and more. On the brunch menu you’ll find waffles, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, an omelet of the week and savory choices such as a burger and beer battered fish and chips. Williams is working on a new menu that will be released the first week of May, when the restaurant will open all day on Thursday and for lunch on Friday in addition to the current hours.
“I like to keep things simple but yet elegant,” Williams said. “I like to make sauces, but I don’t want to add so many ingredients it overwhelms the flavor of the food. I find it more of an art. The first thing I learned is that you eat with your eyes first, so presentation is important, and always using fresh, high-quality products. I like to work with fruit a lot, and I like to fuse styles to create something of my own.”
He’s been creating a weekly special, often seafood, chops or steak, some of which might appear on his final menu. An example is a cobia special that is a favorite dish of Williams’. The mild, flaky, sea-bass-like fish is dredged in Italian panko and sautéed, then topped with a blackberry compote and plated with roasted whole heirloom carrots and asparagus. We sampled five dishes on our visit. The Fried Goat Cheese appetizer and Pecan Chicken are on the current menu. The others will be served as specials or find their way onto the new menu.
Fried Goat Cheese with Berry Compote – This shareable appetizer is a large ball of whipped goat cheese, breaded and fried until melty on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It’s plated with sweet-and-savory berry sauce and served with sliced baguette.
Pecan Chicken with Caramel Apple Sauce – Chicken breast is coated with a layer of crushed pecans, pan fried and served with a creamy, lightly sweet sauce full of apple chunks. To the side are scratch mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
Cobb Salad – This is the classic Cobb: romaine lettuce generously topped with blue cheese, bacon, boiled egg, tomato, and grilled chicken breast. We enjoyed it with a sweet balsamic dressing.
Orange Soda Pop Barbecue Sliders – Pulled pork is tossed with Williams’ special sauce, made with reduced orange soda, mango nectar, fresh ginger and more. It’s heaped on toasted artisan slider buns, topped with a mixture of cabbage, scallion and carrot, and served with fries and more sauce to the side.
Filet Caprese with Roasted Fingerlings – A bacon-wrapped filet is topped with fresh basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella cheese. It’s served with herb roasted fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and a thick balsamic glaze drizzle.
As always, events at the New Harmony Inn’s conference center will be catered by Williams and the Red G. kitchen.
Thursday – Friday 11 a.m – 9 p.m
Saturday 9 a.m – 9 p.m
Sunday 9 a.m – 2 p.m