Not exactly the best birthday meal, but it was ok!
We have not been to a French restaurant for a while, so for her birthday treat, Clair decided to visit Cafe Rouge with the Grubgang this month. Booking online was easy and Clair hoped for a meal to remember. When asking for the reason for the booking online, she even said it was a birthday celebration!
The decor in Cafe Rouge and the music makes you feel like you are in Paris. The tables are a little close together and would be quite cramped on a busy day, but being a Monday evening, the restaurant was quiet. We had a friendly welcome from the waiter, who told us to take our pick of tables as they hadn't set one aside for us, being so quiet. There seemed to be no reason as to why they asked if it was a special occasion online, as no mention was made of the birthday at all.
The menu is good, everyone could find something to eat. Clair, Gemma and Dean opted to pick something from the set menu, meaning we would be within the Grubgang budget (£20 for 3 courses and a drink - however, we may have to change this to £25 with prices rising!) There were a few choices on the menu, but each found something they wanted to try. However, they had run out of the sausage dish Clair wanted to try for her birthday meal, meaning she had to opt for the chicken and bacon salad instead.
We all opted to have some bread as an appetiser, the idea being to share some baguette and rye bread along with some garlic bread. No such luck, they didn't have any garlic bread. First downer there. The bread we did have was delicious, especially the baguette which was fresh and warm. Shame the rye bread could not have been served warm too.
For starters, Clair and Dean had the goats cheese tart. It was larger then expected, but that was a good thing. The pastry was light and crisp, but maybe needed a bit more goats cheese in it. Gemma enjoyed the ham and Gruyere vol-au-vent, although feeling there was not too much in the way of ham, and Mike had the blue cheese and walnut salad.
So things had started ok in terms of the food we were able to order. The mains came and were only slightly bigger than the starters in size! Gemma and Dean tried the Steak hache chopped burger. As it was advertised as being "served the french way with no bun", they expected the burger to be very succulent and meaty. Not so, as it tasted like any other burger and the bun was seriously lacking as it made the dish dry without it. Clair's Chicken and bacon salad was nice, the chicken was succulent and bacon nice and crispy. There was not much "salad" to it, unless you count tomatoes and green beans with potatoes a salad. Mike had the duck from the main menu, and from what the other grub gang members said who tasted it, it was probably the best from all that was chosen. Gemma wished she had ordered that instead of her burger!
So to dessert. Surely the desserts would make the "wow" factor which we like to have at Grubgang meetings. No such luck. Gemma was desperate to try the chocolate ganache by having a mini one with a cup of tea as part of their "cafe gourmand" dish. Guess what? They had run out! So that was 3 things they had run out of. Gemma had no dessert as nothing else took her fancy at all.
Dean opted for the chocolate and banana crepe which went down well and Mike had the tarte au citron as yet again, they had run out of the almond pudding he wished to try in the first place.
As for the birthday girl, well she had the Apple tarte tatin. It was a nice dessert, but a little to sickly for her taste, meaning she couldn't eat it all. That was just her opinion though!
The service during the evening had been quite slow, despite the fact we had been one of a few customers in the restaurant, but we were amazed at how the waiter remembered all of our orders without writing them down! We just did not give us the wow factor which we have been very spoilt enough to find with our visits. We did receive a good feed with what we had, but we just didn't come out of the restaurant feeling as though we had had an amazing evening. We wont be rushing back to Cafe Rouge (there is not much else on the menu we would like to try and they might not have it if we did!)
Marks out of 10.......................................6 (needs some "wow" factor) Clair Maskell