A few weeks ago, I was invited to try out Café Rouge’s new menu, and as I had never been to the one in Leicester before, I was more than happy to go ahead! Upon walking into the restaurant, I immediately loved it. It has a warm and cosy atmosphere, and is all about the low lighting which somehow makes everything seem so much more festive. The décor was eclectic, and obviously as it is a French restaurant, there were touches of olden day France throughout the interior and furniture. We were greeted warmly and sat at our table. Now, before I delve too much deeper into this review, I must impress upon you how busy it was in the restaurant that day. It was a Saturday afternoon, and if you weren’t aware, Leicester’s Café Rouge is situated just outside the Highcross. So there were lots of busy shoppers stopping by to grab their lunch.
It didn’t take too long for a waiter to come up and take our order. I chose a bottle of rose and began to look through the menus. There were so many delicious choices, I wasn’t sure where to start! I knew I wanted to try something completely different to what I’d normally opt for. I decided to order the soufflé. It was a twice-baked brie soufflé topped with toasted hazelnuts and it was superb. The creaminess of the brie went together extremely well with the earthy crunch of the nuts, and it was light enough to be satisfying without being too filling. The presentation was really fun too, with large slices of pear accompanying the starter, something that paired well as it was light and fresh with a touch of sweetness.
My partner went for something far more daring than I – the escargots. Yes, he went for the snails. I had always wanted to try snails, but I was concerned that I’d waste the entirety of the dish if I chose it, so I was very pleased he did instead. I of course had a taste, and they surprised me- I quite liked them. I had to imagine that they were really chewy mushrooms at first, but the combination of the garlic, lardons, butter and crispy crumb definitely worked in their favour.
Onto the mains. It was funny. There were so many words I recognised on the menu, from films and TV programmes, but never really knew what was in them. Does that sounds really stupid? So for example, I learnt that Bouillabaisse was sea bream, mussels and king prawns in a tomato and saffron broth. Who knew! In the end, I decided to go with the ‘Cromesquis’ which was a salmon and haddock fishcake with fries, French of course. It was excellently cooked, very crispy but not at all heavy which was great. So far, so good.
My partner is a big steak fan, like, a huge steak fan. He orders steak from pretty much everywhere. He was going to order the ‘Moules’ or mussels obviously, but went with his old favourite. Unfortunately he likes his steak rare, which, when it comes to having a super busy kitchen, is so easy to get wrong. It was far too overdone, which is a shame as he said he could tell it would’ve been a good bit of meat. The steaks come with side sauces, and he opted for snails again. This time though, I really wasn’t keen on them. I think without the added extras of lardons, cream and crumbs it was obvious that it wasn’t a mushroom. I thought they tasted like dirt. As in, actual dirt. But, he said they were really nice, so it was probably just my mind going into overdrive!
By this point, the snails were weighing him down, so rather than a dessert, my partner opted for an Irish coffee. I on the other hand took full advantage of the fact we were at a French restaurant and ordered the crème brulee. It was cold, which surprised me, but delicious none the less! Creamy, sweet and crunchy, what’s not to love? It also came with a scoop of strawberry and black pepper sorbet which was really yummy!
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and I think if we went at another time, when it was less busy it would’ve been absolutely perfect. But I can’t fault them for that, after all, a busy restaurant is usually sign of a popular restaurant. And I can definitely see why!
Cafe Rouge, Highcross Leicester, Unit R4, Leicester LE1 4SD
*Our meals were provided by Café Rouge for the purpose of this review. As usual however, this has never and will never sway my opinion.