Housemade Bread and Herb Butter
Ricotta Gnocchi – Sauteed Mushrooms, Crispy Potatoes & Parmesan Cream
Croque Madame – House Smoked Ham, Homemade Brioche, Raclette, Mornay Sauce, 63° Egg & Simple Salad
Baked Alaska – Graham Cracker Cake, Chocolate Pecan Ganache, Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream & Meringue
Salted Caramel Bread Pudding – Housemade Brioche & Salted Butter Caramel
Shifting reservations to afford one additional dinner, the choice to visit both Rouge Restaurant and its casual cousin back-to-back, it was a bit surprising just how far apart the two spaces are located; a nearly twenty-minute drive in snowy conditions separating two meals that began by literally interrupting ‘family meal’ at the latter as the restaurant manager was seated at a four-top with his wife, child and a friend when I arrived nearly fifteen minutes after Bistro Rouge’s opening.
Following in the footsteps of several French masters by capitalizing on his popularity with a more accessible space, the 2014 opening coming almost a dozen years after Chef Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud debuted Rouge at The Cross House, Bistro Rouge inhabits a sizable footprint in the back of a shopping center also featuring groceries and pet supplies, the interior pretty plain aside from several televisions playing NHL Centre Ice.
Admittedly expecting a more bustling environment, the concept seemingly ideal for Happy Hour unfortunately empty throughout a seventy-minute stay, it was expectedly with perfect service that the night progressed from the moment I was seated, the youthful male server happy to engage in conversation with myself as well as the bartender and bored appearing hostess.
Rounding out a menu of expected dishes with a few Plats du Jour, though the additions were not enough to alter a plan made based on an internet search, it was with a small loaf of house-baked Bread and Herb Butter that the meal got started, a follow-up of Ricotta Dumplings smooth and soft amidst seared Mushrooms and Cheese Sauce beneath finely sliced Potatoes fried crispy.
Unfortunately informed that the bulk of Bistro Rouge’s Charcuterie is brought in, and not from the more formal Restaurant as one may expect, taste-buds instead turned to the house-smoked Ham Croque Madame on toasted Brioche with Raclette, Mornay and a 63° Egg that tasted every bit as good as it looks and sounds, the blend of superior ingredients making this perhaps the best rendition of the classic I have found yet.
Cleansing the palate with a simple Green Salad before moving on to dessert, two of the five choices appealing to my sensibilities, it was with some disappointment that the “Baked Alaska” was served as a simple bar with toasted Meringue but no tableside fire and only faint hints of Booze, the piping-hot Bread Pudding far more pleasing as day-old Housemade Brioche was served thoroughly saturated with Custard in a pool of Salted Caramel with crumbled Brittle underneath a quenelle of slowly melting Vanilla Ice Cream.