March 24, 2015

Cafe Rouge's New Menu Preview Dinner


Cafe Rouge*, a favourite French bistro loved by many is launching an exciting new menu today

Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited (courtesy of my friend Mandy) to their exclusive menu preview evening at their Covent Garden Restaurant, to sample the new menu items and an extensive range of wines and champagne. 

The last time I'd graced Cafe Rouge was a good 3-4 years ago, and whilst I don't remember the food to be bad, it wasn't especially memorable. Perhaps in recent years, where I've had much more of a chance to taste good french food, I found that many items from the new menu were seriously impressive! 

Duncan, the Executive Chef who designed the menu, has done a brilliant job of cooking traditional french dishes such as duck confit and bringing snails back! A French menu can't be French, if snails were not offered right?! 

A glass of champagne (although I declined) and charcuterie board kicked off the evening. The Roquito chilli drop peppers with the caper berries were so delightful, both of which were new to me. The mushroom pate was also a favourite.


Love the bare brick walls and the signage. Cheeky little tasters anyone?


I've never been a fan of rose wine, until Willie, the director of Bibendum Wine insisted I would love the Sancerre rose. And he was absolutely right!!! 

Discovering wines is pretty new to me, as I only started drinking about 2 years ago, and I have very specific preferences when it comes to wines.   


Salmon ceviche was so deliciously refreshing from the zing of lime and coriander. My favourite starter of the evening.


Ragout D'escargots. Snails and mushrooms in a rich sauce with truffle oil and pastry top. Snail is being hailed as the new super food, which is low in fat and carbs and high in protein. 

I have to admit, I am not a fan of snails, but this starter is the best way I've ever tried snails. The rich sauce hides much of the earthy tones I dislike in snails, and the truffle is used in the right proportions so it was gently perfumed rather than overpowering. I think if you are new to snails, this is a great dish to start! The puff pastry was amazing!


Snails cooked in garlic butter.


Wonderful, wonderful duck confit! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this classic dish. It was moist and succulent inside and crispy on the outside without the grease. Duncan tells me, they have installed new ovens which helps to achieve the crispy skin and retain less of the oil. Dauphinoise potatoes were also perfectly done. One of my favourite mains of the night AND beats the duck confit I had twice in Paris! 


Loup de Mer. Seabass, sauce vierge with tomatoes, basil and olives. The perfect lighter choice that still packs a punch in the flavour department. This was also another favourite which I can see myself ordering in the future. 


Poulet Breton; roast chicken supreme with mushrooms, courgettes, leeks, herb wine sauce, and mustard mash. Perfectly crispy chicken skin, and that sauce with mash is so homey. 


One for the vegetarians. Champagne (really?!) risotto with roasted butternut squash, petite pois, plum tomatoes, pea shoots and lemon dressing. 

 

Good old steak frites. This one didn't excite me too much and the steak was a little tough. I mentioned this to Duncan and he graciously accepted the feedback. 


Strawberry and black pepper sorbet. Who would have thought to pair the 2 together? This dessert excited me so much and I savoured every mouthful of it. 
 

Excellent creme brulee that tasted light and creamy rather than full on rich. And of course the unmistakable crunchy caramelised sugar top was just right. I tried the sorbet and creme brulee together and it tasted much like a strawberry custard!


I didn't even know I liked tarte tatin (with green leaf on top) until tonight! Crispy base with caramelised pears and a dollop of cream to break up the richness. Absolutely divine. The chocolate fondant was also great too, and I love how you can order a trio of the tarte tatin, chocolate fondant and lemon tarte from the new menu. I am too greedy to stick with just the one dessert!


Crisp pancake basket with tarte tatin ice cream, fresh fruit and strawberry coulis. 

And the fabulous croque monsier. Late night snack for the last ones standing...

My previous thoughts on Cafe Rouge are that of an old and established restaurant, but nothing very exciting. However, I think my views may have changed since tasting the new menu, and the desserts alone are worth every calorie I consumed! 

The newly fitted interiors did for a moment transport me back to the deeply traditional restaurants in Paris, which hold their own kind of romantic atmosphere about it.

I was surprised and delighted by the food choices, and the wines also took me by surprise in a great way. Apart from the steak and my general disinterest in snails, everything was perfectly executed and I can't quite believe how authentic everything tasted. Talk about stigma of chain restaurants! 

I had such a great evening, everyone from Cafe Rouge and the PR team took good care of us all and we even left with an amazingly generous goody bag! Check out my instagram to take a peak of what was inside..

Thank you Cafe Rouge for an extremely wonderful evening and for delivering authentic and high standard French cuisine.


*I attended Cafe Rouge as a guest. All opinions are my own and unbiased in any way. 

2 comments

  1. Oh wow the menu looks impressive! I think my fav would have to be the salmon ceviche, snails, duck and the seabass looks so good. Those would def be my picks...not a general fan of pudding but I cant ignore a creme brulee! Glad you had a a great time and great post / description of the food!

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    Replies
    1. Yes they were all so good! The desserts were stunning, I prob enjoyed that the most and I'm more of a savoury person. Thanks, would have been great if you were there too! x

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