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Cafe Rouge birthday dinner

Lillian Hsu | Dec 11, 2004 01:52 PM

I managed to nab a last-minute 7:30 reservation at Cafe Rouge last night, and when I told them it was for a birthday, they gave us the two-person table by the window. Much appreciated as the loud din bothered us much less than I had anticipated from the posts.

Neither of us really drink, so we ordered a lingonberry soda and a passion-peach soda. Both were very good.

We ordered the charcuterie plate as an appetizer, per Robert's suggestion. I thought the meats were quite tasty and went nicely with the olives, cornichons, and mustard. Good variety of flavors. My fiance grumbled a bit about the amount of food for the price.

I had the pork entree, "sautéed pork chop stuffed with almonds and Mission figs; butternut squash flan
and rapini." I had high hopes for this dish but ended up a bit disappointed. The pork was reasonably juicy, but the flavors in the stuffing were too subtle for me. The butternut squash flan also didn't fare well. It had very little flavor, and whereas I had expected it to be creamy, the "flan" actually had an odd lumpy consistency. The rapini, however, was excellent, bright green with great texture and no trace of bitterness.

My fiance had the cassoulet, "duck confit, garlic sausage, braised pork and corona beans." I was immediately jealous when his dish arrived. It smelled so fragrant, and the meat looked beautifully cooked. He wasn't crazy about the crumbly texture of the sausage, so we ultimately traded entrees. I was very happy. The stew could have used a tad less salt, but I enjoyed the tenderness of the meat and the accompanying corona beans.

I was pleasantly surprised by the generous portions of the entrees. Both of us ended up with leftovers, plenty for the next day's lunch.

We had originally planned on hitting Zax's Tavern for dessert but ended up getting lured into Sketch down the street. After tasting the Bartlett pear sorbet, my fiance couldn't resist. I had the chocolate gelato (very rich and intensely flavored) and the more subtle Ethiopian coffee bean.

All in all, a lovely night. Thanks again to everyone for the recommendations! I'm eager to try Rivoli and Zax's desserts next.

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