Red Bike Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant
Where: 4441 Pacific Ave. S.E., Lacey, 360.528.3226
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
Cuisine: American, steaks, pasta, seafood, sandwiches, pizza and salad
Scene: Large, casual bar with live entertainment and a restaurant
Drinkies: Full bar featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine
ANNOUNCER: Once a barbecue joint, Red Bike Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant in Lacey has come under new ownership and management in the last year. Host to a combination of tastes and entertainment offerings, the Red Bike attempts to appeal to a wide range of ages with piano and acoustic guitar acts, DJs playing dance music, sports nights, and live bands. The menu covers the standard expected dishes - burgers, pizza, salad, steaks, pasta, and some seafood. A very large bar takes center stage and makes the shared seating in the dining room play second fiddle. As the focus suggests, it's definitely a bar first and restaurant second.
JAKE: Why is it called Red Bike Dueling Piano Bar?
JASON: What? I can't hear you!
JAKE: OK, we get it, Fred Schneider. Yes, it was loud; you're so right. At 7 p.m., Red Bike was half full with music volume needlessly high. I was uncomfortable and felt I had to half shout to be heard from across the table. Based on that alone I won't be going back.
JASON: Not when there are so many options, no way. At least we were seated right away. A server came by so quickly we hadn't had a chance to look over the menu. By the way, mine was in pieces. Seriously, it had fallen apart, and it was dirty. Gross. Our drinks came quickly, and we opted to try the signature dish of avocado filled with pulled pork, rolled in - I'm guessing here - panko, and then deep-fried. A strange take on a sushi dish called monkey brains, it looked like hell when it arrived but tasted pretty good in a stoner food kind of way. A spicy orange sauce typically seen with sushi rolls and a dark brown tangy balsamic type sauce fought for balance. The pork was decent except where it touched the panko crusted avocado. Those parts were dried out and fried to the point of being inedible.
JAKE: Am I missing something? There was only one piano player, right? Uh, last time I checked you need two to duel, but hey, maybe an off-key guitarist suffices these days.
JASON: Maybe the economy has hit everyone hard, and Red Bike just can't afford a second piano player. Maybe the same money saving efforts have been applied to the kitchen. That would explain the pathetic, overcooked peppers, clear, limp white onion, and rubber carrots served with the steak. The whole mess seemed previously frozen, perilously flavorless and particularly forgettable. Our server even warned us away from the mashed potatoes, but nooooooo. You just had to try them. Now tell the good people what happened.
JAKE: You remind me of the guy in The Princess Bride when you do that with words, and yes, it's still weird. The potatoes were super starchy, whipped within an inch of their lives, not seasoned well, and were the consistency of a powdered potato product. I sent them back and got a dry baked potato that looked like it had been in the warmer all day. I scooped the inside out, folded in sour cream, salt and pepper, and voila - my own mashers. Much better. The steak was cooked a perfect medium with the tiniest bit of blood and moderate amount of pink surrounding red. It was a bit tough though, and I don't like that. If it's not a quality piece of meat at least take the time to tenderize it.
JASON: My jaw got tired, and I moved on to the massive pasta dish. A lot of oil was pooling off boatloads of melted cheese that formed the solid top layer. Tangy tomato cream sauce held really soft mushrooms and overcooked onions. The pasta itself was al dente, and at that point in the meal al dente seemed like a miracle.
JAKE: The best thing about dinner was dessert - creamy banana rolled up in sweet salty dough then fried till golden. Doused in caramel and flanked by twin scoops of vanilla ice cream and whip cream, this xangos was like no other heavenly churro-type pastry I've ever had. The final dish was finally done right.