The French know how to dine. Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day involving many courses and hours of grazing and wine drinking. That’s a culture I could get on board with. So when my sister was down to visit where better to catch up than the relaxed yet classy Café Rouge.
With multiple branches it was easy to find a convenient location. We settled on the huge venue in Holborn, a perfect central spot after trawling the shops.
We got started with a cocktail at the bar. The chilly season called for a winter berry spritz, consisting of vodka, lime, raspberry and elderflower. Refreshing yet warming on the inside. I took a special shine to their pretty glassware. We were shortly greeted by Marta the lovely manager who showed us to a cute table by the window.
The menu is a great selection of French dishes with a modern feel. There seemed to be something to suit every taste. With so much choice it was hard to make a decision as we wanted a bit of everything. Problem solved, the sharing charcuterie et fromage platter covered all cravings. The board was huge with great presentation.
My eyes instantly darted towards the baked camembert infused with rosemary. Still warm and gooey we dunked the bread, crackers, meat, pretty much everything on the board in it, it was so good. The chicken liver pâté was smooth with a deep flavour; it sat next to layers of salami and prosciutto, mini balls of saucisson, a cute bowl of olives and apple & pear chutney. We slowly picked away whilst sipping our cocktails. We felt in no rush at all. Heaven.
For mains my sister chose the 7oz fillet. With such a fine piece of meat it can’t be over cooked, she bravely asked for it rare. The chef got it spot on, cue delicious cut-open steak pic. What a beauty, the taste and texture was divine. It was served with a crunchy house salad which had a great tangy dressing. She had a cheeky cheesy roquefort sauce on the side. Thumbs up and a clean plate.
I had the slow-cooked Brittany duck leg. Perfectly crisp on the outside, with soft flavoursome meat inside. It just fell away from the bone it was so tender. Alongside was my all-time favourite, dauphinoise potato. Layer upon layer of soft creamy slices of potato were bliss. If only it was as easy to replicate at home. There was a choice of cherry or orange sauce, I went for the latter. The sweetness really complimented the meat.
We both fancied something indulgent to finish so the hot chocolate fondant to share was perfect. It came with a piping hot melting chocolate middle which oozed out when our spoons dived in. The sponge was lovely and bouncy; we agreed we would get one each next time. The chocolate & raspberry ice cream was just dreamy.
As our lunch drew to a close the lights went down and the place seamlessly went from a bright bustling Parisian cafe to elegant evening eatery. The romantic lighting and décor made me want to stay for round two but my full tum thought otherwise. Café Rouge is the perfect destination for casual fine dining with a warm friendly feel. The French inspired dishes were tasty as well as being great value. I’d happily head back for breakfast lunch or dinner.
Café Rouge Kingsway
Unit 1, 77 Kingsway, Holborn, London, WC2B 6ST