Sliced Beet – Foie Gras, Diced Pear
Cured Trout – Pickled Chard, Garlic Scape Aioli, Rye Crumbs
Red Fife Sourdough – House-churned Salted Butter
Cheese & Charcuterie – Peppered Elk Sausage, Air Dried Lonza, Foie Gras Torchon, Bresaola, 4-year Aged Grizzly Gouda, Tiger Blue Cheese, Ipedon, Pickled Blood Orange, Candied Walnut, Olives, Pickled Yellowfoot Mushrooms, Cornichons, Apple Moustarda, Baguette Crisps
Spicy Greens – Sweetbreads, Black Garlic Vinaigrette, Goat Yogurt, Pumpkin Seeds, Pickled Chanterelles
Rougie Duck Breast – Sunflower Seed Butter, Bok Choy, Charred Eggplant, Sunflower Shoots
Caffe Umbria Double Espresso – Ice and Brown Sugar
Roasted Apple Mille Feuille – Puff Pastry, Crème Diplomat
Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding – Walnut Nougatine, Toffee, Garden Squash Ice Cream
Blueberry Mousse – Pistachio, Lemon Balm, Blood Orange Jam
Considered by many to be Alberta’s best fine-dining restaurant since opening in 2003, the 19th Century Cross House reimagined as Rouge by Chef Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud, it was less than thirty minutes after exiting their sister-Bistro that I was seated in a sizable corner two-top, the server not even walking my way until nearly fifteen minutes later.
Suggesting a strong focus on Alberta in their online description, the words “regional” and “local” liberally sprinkled with adjectives of self-praise to define their “Philosophy of Fine Dining,” Rouge is located in a residential neighborhood with ample parking along the streets, the building itself appropriately painted a deep shade of red with the interior pleasant, if not a bit stuffy, as heavy curtains and linens are flanked by vivid oil paintings.
Apologizing profusely for ‘ignoring’ me, a large table in the adjoining room commanding a lot of attention combined with my location and the Hostess not alerting him to my presence offered as an excuse, it was with Water and Menu in hand that choices were made, the tasting menu passed due to an odd Asian theme in a place whose style very clearly references France.
Offered two Amuses to begin the night, the second plus a later Salad presented gratis as further apology, both the Beet and Duck Liver as well as the cured Trout proved tasty and complex while a half-slice of Red Fife Sourdough was served as though it was some sort of luxury ingredient alongside grassy House-churned Butter that instead stole the spotlight.
Disappointed by Bistro Rouge’s outsourced cured Meats, and again here where Elk Sausage and Bresaola are brought in with Canadian Cheeses to pair with housemade Lonza and a compact Foie Gras Torchon that proved impossible to spread on razor-thin Crostini, accoutrements including Pickled Blood Orange and Yellowfoot Mushrooms thankfully propped up the $36CAD Board, the aforementioned Salad a far better value with featuring the complex interplay of seared Sweetbreads, bright acid, tangy Yogurt and toasted Pumpkin Seeds.
Featuring the same exquisite Rougie Duck as Model Milk, but eschewing aging in favor of a plump Breast pan-Seared over ground Sunflower Seeds, Bok Choy and charred Eggplant under a tangle of Sunflower Shoots, dessert at Rouge showed similar to that at the Bistro by way of two choices, the Roasted Apple Mille-Feuille texturally compromised by ‘leather’ akin to a Fruit Roll-Up while the Sticky Toffee Pudding tasted like moist Spice Cake next to crumbles of Walnut and lightly-sweetened Garden Squash Ice Cream.