A crispy membrane envelopes the delectable mousse-like stuffing made with chicken livers and dotted with rice. The rice is wonderous, each grain a little soft knob that rolls along the tongue, punctuating the unctious stuffing. This boudin sausage makes a truly lusty appetizer; its subtle textures and gentle flavors are enhanced by the slight sour pungence of mustard, the sharp acidic dressing on curls of frisee, the smoky reasonance of bacon and the sweet earthly rings of lightly sauteed onions.
There are good hands manning the stoves at Rouge. And these hands seem to understand the passionate colour of the house. This is clever, unfussy cookery with ardent flavors and hearty zeal.
The pinkness of the sausage is followed by ruddy cuts of firm and tender duck breast, along with the sticky intense vermillion of a sweet reduction sauce (guessing cherries, red wine) and a liberal scatter of dried cherries. A rich combination that worked fairly well (although I secretly longed for a whiff of mint among the dark scarlet flavors -- an artful touch I once tasted at Chaz, one of my favorite places in SF).
Pulled threads of firm duck meat and small cubes of potatoes and carrots form a timbale of very likable duck hash, the second of this duck duo entree.
Very satisfying with a glass of zin (slow chewy prunes, a tiny bit of spice and maybe a bit of some dark berry at the end).
Desserts are simple, and somewhat more demure. A delighful custardy bread and butter pudding is filled with all the joys of soft texture and full-bodied mouthfeel, but the advertised hard maple sauce is more of a whimper than a bang. Extra bourbon please.
It's hard not to be pleased with the little gestures from the kitchen. Easing away from bread and butter, they serve gougeres (flaky and light, but could use some oven warmth), corn muffins (lovely note of cumin mingling in the sweetness and heat, more heat would be even better) and slices of sweet, soft white bread. The accompanying lima bean puree is simple and heartwarming with its prominent coat of olive oil and garlicky odors.
Two more gestures at the end: a chewy, spicey molasses cookie and a light almond cookie with the delicate fragance of the nut, come with the check.
The check is nearly as nice as the cookies; it comes across as being very reasonable (pre-tip: $42ish for all of the above), especially in light of the exceptional food. Not a surprise, since all but the foie gras appetizer is under $10, the entrees max out at $21, and the desserts go for a decent $6.
Rouge might be a fairly new place, but it's already won some praise on this board.
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