Rouge Tomate, NYC

July 26, 2010

Rouge Tomate’s motto is SPE, for Sanitas per Escam, Health through Food, so it was somewhat surprising when it was awarded a Michelin star last year. Blair and I were curious if they could pull this off when we went for lunch on July 21, 2010. Even though the parent Rouge Tomate is in Brussels, there was no observation at its New York outpost of this, the Belgian Independence Day, but they were observing Restaurant Week in New York. We ordered from the Restaurant Week menu with three choices for each of three courses offered for $24.07.

The wine list offers sustainable, practicing organic and biodynamic wines. We started with glasses of 2007 Pinot Gris, The Eyrie Vineyards, Dundee Hills, Oregon.  We agreed with the wine list description:A smooth, velvety pinot gris, with notes of white peach, meyer lemon and lilac, and a spicy finish.” We went on to a bottle of 2008 A Donkey and a Goat, “Coupe d’Or”, Marsanne/Roussanne, El Dorado County, California. The label says: “Trained donkeys provide organic weed control in French vineyards. Goats are companion animals that balance the hardworking donkeys. Tracey and Jared Brandt, the hands behind the label, believe balance is crucial in wine, in partnerships & in life.”  This was a very enjoyable wine which went well with our food. 

Whole grain breads with an orange-carrot purée were put on the table; no butter or cream is used at Rouge Tomate before dessert. The purée was an interesting substitute with a buttery texture; we would have preferred more carrot and less orange.

Blair’s first course was 
Salad of Local Heirloom Squash
Jersey Milk Mozzarella, Basil Pistou, Sweet Garlic, Balsamic

Blair wrote: The squash had been charred so it had a smoky flavor and good texture to go with the acidity of the vinegar. The tomatoes had been skinned and were very juicy.

My starter was
Avocado and Sweet Corn Crostini
Maine Crab, Lime , Cilantro, Mâche

Avocado and crab is a classic combination. It was well done here with good ingredients. There was no lack of flavor. The crunch of the thin toasted crostini was just right.

Blair’s main course was 
Sweet Corn Farrotto
Pepper Succotash, Tomato, Crispy Garlic, Cilantro

Blair wrote: This dish was superb; the sweet corn flavor was all over the dish; there was creaminess like risotto. The texture was a bit harder on the outside than inside, the exact opposite of risotto. I really enjoyed it.

My main was 
Local Seafood and Summer Vegetable Curry
Ginger, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime , Coconut Milk, Vietnamese Coriander

The spicing was superb, vaguely Thai, but not so peppery. The flavor of the lemongrass came through. The coconut milk with some mussel juice was a perfect binder. The chunks of mussels, scallops and summer squashes were the substance.

Blair’s dessert was 
Local Berries
Lemon Chiffon Cake, Trefoil Honey, Lavender Scented Yogurt

Blair wrote: This was not extremely creative or innovative, but was really good. The berries were full of flavor. 

My dessert was 
Chocolate Pudding Cake, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Malt

This was very nice. It avoided the trap of seeming like comfort food and was interesting and substantial.

We really enjoyed all six courses of our lunch. The ingredients were top quality; the spicing and garnishes were well chosen. Some other bloggers have complained about blandness in the “health food” at Rouge Tomate, but we didn’t find that at all. The service was friendly and efficient. The pace was just right. The tables are widely spaced and the noise level is low.

Bravo. We will be back.


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