Whatever happened to the brief British summer time? It’s become even briefer now. Never known for being beachy at the best of seasons it’s now gone into hiding despite forecasters predicting this would be a heatwave that would go down in history. But don’t let that put the dampeners on your dining experience. Catch a riverside table at Café Rouge, Canary Wharf at just the right hour and you may just be able to impress any partner seeking rainy day pampering.
The upmarket location is part and parcel of the Café Rouge experience. The area isn’t short of a few bob and is one of the few parts of London that looks as if it’s all been built well within the last two decades. Post-modern architecture and scenic views of the river aside, few restaurants around will match the unassuming feeling of luxury and the spacious interior. It’s a taste of France with all the elegance, refinery and chic décor you’d expect of our classier cousins across The Channel. And with French chefs heading the list of world’s greatest cooks this establishment had a lot to live up to, so did it succeed?
Even before your starter and glass of Merlot arrives you’ll be left in no doubt about the high standards they maintain. Everything is immaculate – you’ll actually be looking for something out of place, a wine-stained table cloth, an uncleaned table, an upturned glass. Anything! Well keep looking because you’ll fail. In France restaurants aren’t just a business, they are a vocation, an art and word of mouth reputation travels fast in this industry.
If you can’t read French all the dishes on the menu will sound delicious (in fact even the footnotes about nut allergies might). But a starter of Champignons A L’Ail will reaffirm those high expectations. Chestnut mushrooms in cepe and creamy garlic sauce bedded on rye toast will tantalise but not stuff you enough to put you off the main. Especially when the main course of Salade de Poulet comes piled high and long. You might well ponder whether all the rumours about French meal portions being perfect but small are in fact true. Bacon lardons, avocado, tomatoes and baby gem lettuce are mixed with the chargrilled chicken breast and served with a small pot of French vinaigrette. A delicate ensemble that will be roundly applauded by both meat eaters and vegetarians patient enough to pick out the chicken strips.
The prices are reasonable considering the area and the reputation of the cuisine. Also for those on a budget the set menu (Prix Fixe Menu) is, all things considered, the most decently priced you’ll find. The £12.95 for two courses goes a long way. It’s a five star balance of all dining ingredients and also easy on the discerning pocket. Verdict? Pretty much unbeatable.