One of the ways Dean and Julie Darnall wanted to make their new restaurant stand out was to create two different ways to enjoy an evening at The Red Onion.
Past the hostess desk, turn right to enter the bar area.
“We wanted a pub-style atmosphere with high-tops (table and chairs) in here,” said Dean, 46. “We put in TVs and took the sides off the deck.”
The walls are tomato red with a view of the big covered deck, where there’s plenty of outdoor seating.
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It has a good atmosphere for dining, or a date night or to hold a meeting.
owner Dean Darnall on the eating areas at The Red Onion
A video gaming area by the bar will be created by the end of July. Live acoustic music on Fridays and Saturdays will be coming by the end of the month, playing outside in good weather. Or, eat your burgers, pizza, steak soup and toasted ravs while listening to the jukebox.
But step to the left after you enter the restaurant and you enter another, much quieter, dining area. Dean, who grew up in O’Fallon and is in law enforcement, put up photos of local police and firefighters. Dispatchers get some attention, too.
Here, you’ll find a collection of nooks and semiprivate eating areas.
“It has a good atmosphere for dining, or a date night or to hold a meeting,” said Dean.
Of course you’re free to start in one area of The Red Onion and move to another, too. The casual menu is the same no matter where you sit.
Dean said he’s been driving by the West Main Street location of what was once Maxwell’s for years. When he saw it was available, he asked about leasing the space.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said of starting a restaurant. The Red Onion opened April 14.
It’s been a work in progress, and Dean has revamped the menu. Big sellers are the Red Onion Steak Soup ($10, with salad), made with ground steak, barley, onions and potatoes. The Red Onion Burger ($10) is topped with lots of sauteed red onions and garlic and topped with pepperjack cheese.
Wings come in several flavors and are $10 a pound. You’ll also find four kinds of wraps, including the Goonie Meatball Wrap ($10) filled with housemade Italian meatballs, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese.
What tops the chart for customers so far, Dean said, is the brick-baked pizza. It’s thin-crust and includes specials like the 14-inch Ton of Pizza, with bacon, mushrooms, sausage, ham, pepperoni, onions, olives, Cheddar and mozzarella cheese for $21. Build your own with cheese and one topping for $12. Extra toppings are $1.50.
On Fridays, you’ll find a breaded cod filet sandwich or cut-ups, each with a side, for $8. Sides include beer-battered onion rings, fries, side salad, housemade chips and fried pickles.
Kids can chow down on a cheeseburger or chicken strips, plus fries and a drink, for $5.
He and Julie came up with the name for the eatery.
“It was before my time and I heard about it from someone else, that there was a restaurant downtown in St. Louis called The Red Onion,” Dean said. “It was a popular place.”
They did their research about naming rights and found no problem with the moniker.
“We liked it because the name kind of sticks out.”
The Red Onion
- What: Restaurant serving lunch and dinner with a full bar and outdoor covered deck. Carryouts available.
- Where: 923 W. Main St., Belleville
- When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Kitchen closes at 9 p.m.
- Grand opening: Friday, June 17, from 6 p.m. to closing with specials and live music
- Information: 618-257-9230, www.theredonion.com (website under construction)