We recently tried the Café Rouge seasonal set menu at our local Newcastle branch. Find out what we thought.
January is a bleak month. The days after Christmas seem to be grey and cold with very little to lift the spirits. During these grey days I found an email in my in-box telling me I I was invited to Café Rouge to try their new seasonal menu for four. I had noticed they were choosing people to go a little while ago and filled in the form, never expecting to get chosen.
We are familiar with Café Rouge having previously been there for a birthday meal. That was at lunchtime and this would be an evening meal. It would be nice to experience the Parisienne charm of the French bistro at a different time.
Café Rouge can be found on Grey Street in the centre of Grainger town in Newcastle. Grey street is a beautiful street with Georgian buildings designed by internationally renowned Richard Grainger. It is the historic heart of Newcastle and 40% of the buildings are listed as being of historical and architectural importance. It is worth looking up and admiring the buildings.
There is plenty of parking outside Café Rouge with parking meters along the streets. There is a limit on the time you can stay. After 6:30pm parking is free. Grey Street is also within walking distance of Monument Metro station and not far from several of the bus stations. There is no problem getting there by public transport which is perfect if you want to enjoy a drink.
The interior of Café Rouge oozes French charm with quirky prints on the walls, sparkling glass over the bar and little candles on the table. It only lacks the French language for that French café experience. At night Café Rouge busier but service was still friendly and prompt.
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The seasonal set menu is available everyday between noon and close of business. You get two courses for £11.50 and can add a dessert for £3.50. At the moment the selection of dishes are perfect for the colder months. They use fresh seasonal winter vegetables. I am a great fan of cooking with seasonal vegetables as vegetables that are in season have much more taste and flavour.
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The seasonal set menu has four different starters. These include soupd de campagne, potted mackerel, roast vegetable tartine and pork rillettes. It was hard to decide between the soup and the potted mackerel. The soup de campagne sounds lovely, county vegetable soup with potatoes, carrots, haricot beans, leeks, onions, celery and savoy cabbage. The perfect selection of winter vegetables. I do love mackerel though so that won in the end.
The potted mackerel is a lovely homemade pâté of smoked mackerel with crème fraîche and horseradish. It comes on a wooden board in a lovely little jar with a lid. On the side is a sweet and sour pickled red onion with a chargrilled rye and caraway bread. The mackerel has a lovely smoky taste and the tart bite of the onions works perfectly with it. It was a lovely starter. My son had the same starter.
My husband tried the pork rillettes. Rillettes are similar to pâté but has a courser texture. Pork is chopped and cooks slowly with wine and herbs until soft. These rillettes are made in Lille to a traditional recipe and come with shallot and raisin chutney. There is also a slice of rye and caraway bread. My husband thought it was very tasty.
The other choice of starter was a roast vegetable tartine. This is chargrilled sourdough bread with a topping of roast beetroot, butternut squash, goats’ cheese, homemade piperade with watercress.
There are five main dishes to choose from on the Café Rouge set seasonal menu so there is bound to be something you like. My choice was the boeuf pamentier.
The boeuf parmetier is braised beef in a red wine sauce with a topping of crispy potatoes. It came to the table in a small casserole dish which was rather nice. The potatoes were lovely and crispy and the beef melts in the mouth. The red wine sauce has a lovely rich taste from the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery & garlic. A couple of mouthfuls had a little too much garlic but overall it was delicious. It could have done with a little salad alongside it though.
My son chose the steak frites which has a £2 supplement. This is always a classic choice. The 5oz British minute rump steak comes with a choice of frites or house salad with garlic butter on the side. It did not disappoint.
My husband’s choice was the Toulouse sausages and herb mash with shallot gravy. The sausages again are rather garlicky which is great if you love garlic. If you are not so keen it can be a bit of a disappointment. The sausages were lovely and tender and went well with the herb mash and shallot gravy.
If you don’t fancy either of these the other choices are moules, mussels steamed in a cream garlic and white wine sauce with frites or tarte de saison.
If you are looking for a delicious meal in a bistro setting in the centre of Newcastle Café Rouge ticks all the boxes. The restaurant has a nice ambience, service is friendly and fast and the food is good. We did enjoy the meal overall. The dishes had a lovely flavour and there was enough choice on the menu for all the family. For a two course meal in the centre of town the price is reasonable.
We did feel that a couple of the dishes had a little too much garlic. It also would have be nice to have a side serving of salad with the beef just to add a little variety. Café Rouge is a nice setting for an evening meal. It was not to busy and being in central Newcastle you could easily combine a meal with a little late night shopping, a drink or a visit to the cinema or theatre. Overall we enjoyed the meal and would go back another time.
Cafe Rouge Newcastle: https://www.caferouge.com/locations/newcastle
Gainsborough House, 34 – 40 Grey Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6AE
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