Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Summer Menu at Cafe Rouge

On a warm summer's evening, I found myself whizzing into town after work so I could attend a summer menu showcase at Cafe Rouge. Birmingham is a little chain-heavy and I do try to support the independents, but I do appreciate when a chain is making an effort. When I attended the winter showcase, I really enjoyed the effort that had gone into choosing the produce, particularly the meats, cheese and wine (the trifecta of French dining).

The evening started with a Gin Bloom, a G&T in the fashionable Spanish style- served in a balloon glass with plenty of ice and appropriate garnishes. It's sensible for Cafe Rouge to jump on this trend. I'd certainly rather have a couple of these refreshing beverages than a bottle of wine these days and I know I'm not alone.

These are £6.95 for a double measure of Beefeater gin and your choice of flavoured tonic. Flavours include Elderflower, Watermelon and Cucumber and Green Tea and Lemongrass. All very refreshing.

We tried a couple of mini starters, including a delicious French Onion soup, but my eyes were on the meats and cheese. I enthusiastically made myself up a plate of dry cured French ham, pork rillettes and smoked duck, all of which are available on the Charcuterie and Fromage sharing board (£13.95) along with gooey Camembert, chutney and bread.

For my own starter, I picked Crevettes (£7.50) king prawns, cooked in garlic and chilli butter with baguette for dipping. This is one of my go-to starters wherever I am and I'm pleased to say there was a good chilli hit, though not enough butter for dipping.

Meanwhile, Edd chose the Crab and Avocado Tian (£7.50) a delightfully fresh mix of Devonshire crab meat, avocado and coriander mayonnaise, served with bread. The tasty crab meat held its own against the creamy avocado.

Time for another drink. This time I chose the Le Pamplemousse (£6.5) mainly because I just love the word pamplemousse, French for grapefruit. Naturally, this was a vodka based grapefruit flavoured short drink which I enjoyed a lot. As well as the Gin Blooms, Cafe Rouge have expanded their cocktail menu, providing a variety of fruity, refreshing and simple mixed drinks.

As if I hadn't eaten the whole kitchen, it was time for mains. I'm a fan of a salad so I was pleased to see such a selection. I picked the Bistro salad (£11.50) and added Smoked Duck (+£3). The salad had lots of lovely little bits in it like walnuts, green beans and a boiled egg and the duck was rich and tasty.

As much as I enjoyed it, I'm looking at the prices and thinking £14.50 seems a little excessive for a few slices of duck and a pleasant salad, especially when compared to the giant tuna steak Edd had on his Nicoise Salad for £12.95. I would put my salad at maybe £9.50 and stick to £3 for the duck.

Pudding was a sweet little selection of desserts, including chocolate mousse, creme brulee, strawberry cheesecake and tarte au citron. Cafe Rouge know what they're doing with desserts and you'd be happy with any of these, especially the Creme Brulee! A similar selection to this, Cafe Gourmand (£7.95) is available, served with an espresso.

No it's not an independent but I'm always happy to see places like Cafe Rouge working hard to improve their offering, keep up with the trends and caring about the produce they serve. A very pleasant evening indeed, finished with a splendid glass of wine on the balcony.

Photos by Helen and Edd.

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes. 

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