If you said maybe 3-4 years ago “let’s go have dinner at Cafe Rouge” to be quite honest I’d have passed on the offer or insisted on an alternative.  The food at Cafe Rouge always used to be merely mediocre and not particularly tempting in my opinion and my husband would fully support this statement.

But, times change.

Over the last couple of years these guys have really upped the ante and I have to say their food quality and menu offerings are so much more appealing then ever before.  I was alerted of this last year and my opinion changed from that moment.  This year I have been going to various branches and enjoying meals with friends and family.  I have to say their burgers are great if you get a burger craving plus make sure you add the cheese and bacon it’s finger licking good without any dodgy deep fried chicken in sight.

Cafe Rouge have recently introduced an Autumn menu incorporating some great dishes with seasonal produce and it’s blooming brilliant!

My husband and I were not sure what to expect but I am going to dive right in there and say that were were more than pleasantly surprised.

Drinks

Whilst we waited for our order to be processed we sat and enjoyed some of the new Mocktails that have been added to the menu.

Apple and Pomegranate (on the left)

This is sweet with a light sparkle and bursting with fruitiness. The flavours work well making this a great refreshing drink and a lovely non alcoholic option.

Black Cherry and Almond (on the right)

This is like a dessert in a glass.  Both flavours combine well and this made me feel like I was having a cherry bakewell in drink form.  Again refreshing and extremely mouthwatering.

Starters

Pork Rillettes

Artisanal pork rillettes madein Lille to a traditional recipe, served with shallot and raisin chutney and chargrilled rye and caraway bread.

This was fantastic!  The pork was smooth and creamy in texture and the bread was warm and as it was toasted, crisp on the outside giving this dish a great contrast in textures.  Add in the chunky savoury chutney and this is a fun flavourful dish that any carnivore will enjoy.

Roast Vegetable Tartine

Chargrilled sourdough bread topped with roast beetroot, butternut squash, goats’ cheese, homemade piperade, watercress, pumpkin seeds and balsamic.

Vegetarians can ask for the cheese to be omitted here and enjoy a great mix of flavours from the seasonal vegetables pilled high on top of warm toasted bread.  Include the cheese and you have a gorgeous creamy texture that work extremely well with the crunch of the thickly cut vegetables.  This is great as a healthy option as it allows you to enjoy a filling and flavourful dish rather than something basic and bland.  I loved the combination of all the components and you’ve got to be getting around 1-2 or your 5 a day from this dish alone which is an added bonus.  On a gluten free diet?  Just tell your serve and they will adapt the dish for you.

Both the starters were a good healthy size.

Mains

Chicken Chasseur

Slow-cooked chicken in a white wine sauce with smoked bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, thyme & tarragon, served with herb mash.

 The mash was creamy and there wasn’t a lump to be found.  There was a light addition of fresh herbs and this was perfect to soak up the flavourful juices / gravy which contained chunks of bacon.  The chicken was moist and tender and the fresh thyme springs added to the lovely flavours of the dish.  This is the perfect comfort food for anyone that likes meaty dishes rich in flavour.

Minute Steak (£2 supplement) – Aberdeen Angus

5oz British ‘minute’ rump steak served with frites or house salad, garlic butter available on request (sauces available at 2.00 each, please ask your waiter).

I had a craving for meat – I have phases, my body wants and I listen.  I should add that’s anytime of the month.  The steak was cooked to perfection (medium rare) and it was lovely and juicy and pretty tender too.

Desserts

Fondant Aux Chocolat

Hot chocolate fondant with a melting middle served with chocolate & raspberry fondant ice cream.

Hubby asked for vanilla ice cream and it also came with a sprinkle of freeze dried raspberries.  This was actually off the main menu rather than the Autumn menu and really was delicious or at least the little piece I got to sample.  Note to self hubby isn’t the best person to take for restaurant reviews!!!  The melting centre full of warm liquid chocolate oozes out as you cut into the chocolate cake and the freeze dried raspberry’s add a gorgeous tang to the dish to counterbalance the sweetness.

Ice Cream

There is a great selection of ice creams on the Autumn menu including tarte tatin (top) and strawberry – made with clotted cream (bottom).  These were both gorgeous and I really enjoyed them.

There seems to be a rise in dishes that can be adapted for vegetarians and for those that are on a gluten free diet available which is great.  The menu is varied although not large so as to allow for them to be made to a high standard.  It is of course better to be good at a few dishes than mediocre at a larger range don’t you think?  I also find when menus are too varied I struggle as I can be very indecisive.

I have to say we were really impressed at the price and range of dishes and the quality of the dishes themselves.  The service was good and we didn’t need to wait for long to place orders.  Staff were helpful and knowledgeable about the new dishes too.  This is nothing like the Cafe Rouge that I used to know and avoid, now if you say let’s go I’ll be there!  In fact I was so impressed I visited again the following day for a late lunch with a friend as the menu starts from 12 noon and is available until closing.  Hubby is has already visited again and I have more friends that I know will love it too.  I just need more hours in the day / week and a faster metabolism.

Have you tried the New Cafe Rouge menu yet?

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I was invited along to try the new Autumn menu.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Please also be aware that as my blog is called Melanie’s Fab Finds I only include things that I like.  Simply put if I don’t like it it won’t be featured.  We like to keep a positive vibe going here.  The food was so good that I took a friend along the following day who had the same view as I had before and she is now a convert too.  I wonder which of my friends I will take next!

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