Thursday, 20 March 2014

A French Affair - Café Rouge

One of the many chain restaurants in the UK, Café Rouge is one which serves French cuisine. After trips to Paris, French cuisine became one of my favourites especially the dish confit de canard (duck confit). Since Café Rouge is located almost everywhere in London, it became the first place to try satisfy my cravings.

My first visit is during Valentine’s Day (how cliché) with 2 of my KDU buddies. In conjunction with the special day, one of my friend and myself tried the special Valentine’s Day set menu with my choices being lobster bisque as starters, braised lamb shank as main course and crème brûlée as dessert. The set menu was priced at £18.99 which I find to be quite reasonable.

My friend's pick as starter - fresh prawns with chilli and garlic butter. The prawns were really fresh and tasty with the chilli and garlic butter though the hint of garlic could be much stronger.
Lamb Shank
Braised Lamb Shank
The lamb was extremely tender and well braised with herbs! The mash was extremely delicious as well. Unfortunately, this was part of the special menu and is not available on regular basis.
Creme Brulee
Crème brûlée
A heavenly custard with burnt layer of sugar on the top. The creme was smooth and not too sweet. Absolutely love the burnt layer of sugar.

On another visit to the Windsor outlet, I tried the fixed price menu (prix fixe menu) with the soup as my starter and the omelette as my main course. For £9.95, the price is somewhat reasonable although the food quality could definitely be improved.

Butternut Squash soup
Butternut Squash and Flame Pepper Soup
An extremely diluted soup, bland and lacks taste and texture. A similar soup was order by a friend on the third visit and it was different in colour and thickness. Definitely lacks consistency in the fixed price menu.
Omelette with Mushroom
Originally omelette with fries and a choice of mushrooms, cheese or ham, I requested for the fries to be replaced with salad. Instead, I was served with heaps of mushrooms. As a mushroom lover, there is nothing to complain. The omelettes were fluffy and the mushrooms are of generous portions.
Eglefin Fume
Eglefin Fume

My latest visit was some weeks ago with a bunch of KDU classmates and my lecturer visiting from Malaysia. Finally, it was time to have a fully French meal with French onion soup and duck confit. Ordering from an ala carte menu, it was a rather pricey meal. However, Café Rouge is part of the Gourmet Society and there is always an ongoing discount for members of the Gourmet Society. Greatly reducing the bill!

French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup
Tasted very much like thick onion gravy.  The soup was rather starchy and lacks an aromatic onion scent.
Confit de Canard
Confit de Canard
Tender duck meat served with a sweet cherry sauce. An interesting combination of sauce which brings out the flavour of the confit extremely well.
Beef Bourginon
Boeuf Bourguignon
As I do not consume beef, the comment from a friend about this dish is extremely positive.
Burger Cafe Rouge 
Tarte Tartin
Tarte Tartin

Generally, Café Rouge serves rather decent French cuisine thought it somewhat lacks authenticity. The wide variety of food choices is quite attractive as there is always something to try on each visit. While some dishes are really delectable, others are simply above average.

On all visits, the service was good and most of their service crew were very friendly. As my first and third visit to Café Rouge was to the same Covent Garden outlet, it was pleasing to know that the waitress could remember me and my friends from our previous visit. Well, either we made too much noise on the previous visit that we became unforgettable or the staff is doing an extremely good job in customer relations.

Though Café Rouge is just another common restaurant located all over UK, the food is above average in generally with some commendable dishes. Their service is definitely something that calls for praises. With low lightings and a relaxed atmosphere, all my dining experience had been enjoyable and it was lovely that the staff had never rushed us through our meal.

Food rating: 6/10
Service rating: 9/10
Ambience rating: 8/10
Overall rating: 7.5/10

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