The Opera House Bistro has a lot going for it.
The location in downtown Red Bud is on the busiest corner in town at Main and Market streets.
The three-story 1860s building is an eye-catcher inside and out. It has been restored so there are now two dining rooms, a saloon, a second-floor banquet room and a third-floor ballroom.
Chef-owner David Dannenberg is a local guy with a culinary degree. He creates dishes ranging from a lobster roll for lunch to a 14-ounce ribeye for dinner to vegetable strudel for Sunday brunch.
And for a final flourish during your visit, the entertainment is built in: When you’re done eating, go upstairs and visit the Red Bud Area Museum.
“We opened Oct. 13 and things have been going really well,” said David, 32, standing in the One-O-Eight Room in the restaurant. Family and town memorabilia are on display. His parents, Kathy and Don, live in Red Bud, where his ancestors settled in the late 1800s.
Everything is fresh and housemade. I’m the son of a beef farmer and most of the dishes have to be ‘Farmer Don approved.’
David Dannenberg, chef-owner
The big dining room is named after the building’s address, 108 E. Main St. Through a doorway is the Saloon Room and entrance to the restaurant. Another doorway leads to a second dining area, the Texaco Room.
“This is meant to be more of the family side,” he said of the One-O-Eight Room. “We put large groups here.”
The Saloon Room has a long antique bar and seating, a great place to wait for a table and have a drink, said David. The Texaco Room, once a single-pump gas station, is now a sunny, brick-walled dining area geared more for date night and adults. Covered patio seating is out a big set of double doors, under the portico where cars once drove through to fill up.
On a recent weekday afternoon, waiter Jacob Britting was serving lunch in the Texaco Room to Heidi Dee and Stephanie Bartolotta. Both work at nearby Red Bud Regional Home Care and are fans of David and his food.
“I’ve had this twice,” said Heidi of the Lobster Roll, filled with poached lobster, King Louis sauce, lettuce and tomato, served on a sweet egg bun with fries ($12.50).
Stephanie was introduced to the Opera House Bistro menu when she had David cater a lunch for some doctors.
“I really like the simple elegance of the food,” she said. “Everything he did was lovely, right down to the boxes the food came in.”
That day, she tried the Chicken Salad Croissant, made with roasted chicken, pecans, grapes and celery on lettuce. Served with fries. it is $8.50.
“Everything is fresh and housemade,” said David. “I’m the son of a beef farmer and most of the dishes have to be ‘Farmer Don approved.’”
That means straddling the divide between “modern” food and classic dishes. David has created a menu with starters like Ginger Scallion Pork Potstickers ($9) and Brisket Sliders ($9). You’ll find at least nine sandwich choices (fries included), including a roast sirloin French Dip ($10.50). The dinner specials include a 14-ounce ribeye ($26), which has a veal demi-glace over it and comes with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and seasonal sauteed vegetables. It is served with a side salad for $26. One of the house specials is Tres Tacos, three lamb Barbacoa tacos topped with cilantro, queso fresco, guacamole and served with corn pudding and tortilla chips for $12.
For dessert, try the classic creme brulee ($8), one of the sweet treats created by sous/pastry Chef Danielle Mayberry, who also makes many of the bread products served.
On Sunday, a brunch a la carte menu is used, with restaurant hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Items include starters like potato latkes ($8.50), four kinds of omelets ($8 to $9.50), pancakes, french toast, waffles, crepes, several sandwiches and a kids menu.
The three floors of the Opera House Bistro include rental space, with catering for small, medium and large events. The third-floor ballroom, once called the opera hall, has hardwood floors, high ceiling, a dozen windows and a small removable stage. Depending on seating and the event, it can hold up to 400.
“We’ve had Christmas parties and weddings here,” David said. A second-floor banquet space in the Shoe Room — it had once been a small footwear factory — can hold 80. The rest of the floor is taken up by the well-stocked museum.
Opera House Bistro
- What: Casual and fine dining for lunch and dinner; brunch on Sundays. Banquet space and catering available.
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
- Location: 108 Main St., Red Bud
- Handicapped accessible: Yes
- Information: 618-282-1860, www.operahousebistro.com and Facebook