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Restaurants & Bars

Cafe Rouge -- off night or downhill alert?

foodfirst | Oct 18, 200205:18 AM     3

Cafe Rouge (4th Street, Berkeley) used to be (in my experience) a great place for good beef and fish esp. oysters, sophisticated atmosphere, professional but warm service. A friend and I went last Sunday night and had a mediocre-to-poor meal accompanied by incredibly awful service. My kumamotos, at least, were delicious.
We returned two room temperature glasses of champagne
-- no apologies from the waitress, no chilled champagne to be had, and our replacement cocktails took another 10 minutes. Two soggy, overdressed plates of mixed greens with miniscule bits of gorgonzola. Friend's charcuterie plate was acceptable, my roast beef was too well-done and dried out towards the edges (I'd ordered it rare). It was accompanied by a nicely conceived but poorly executed rice and chard gratin --plenty of chard but rice was undercooked and, on top, crackly and browned in a not-pleasant way.
Our waitress was taciturn and abrupt to the point of rudeness and disappeared at all the wrong moments (such as when we wanted to return our champagne --- eventually flagged down the hostess) in spite of plenty of empty tables. The server who took over for her 2/3 of the way through our meal knew nothing about the desserts (when my friend asked about the tart she started her explanation with "You know when you go to the bakery and you see those things in the case that have the wavy crusts? That's a tart...") Her insistence on calling us "dear" did not improve my mood.
All in all a wasted evening and such a disappointment for me after many fine meals at this place over the last few years. Anyone had similar experiences at Cafe Rouge recently --- should I write this place off forever or was it just an off night?

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