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    64 Reviews
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      05.02.2014 00:39
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      A great meal out if a little pricey

      We had a voucher for Christmas for Cafe Rouge having just used it at the weekend I thought best to review it whilst fresh in the mind.

      I hadn't been to a Cafe Rouge before. It's a national chain of restaurants selling french cuisine, they are open all day serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can only review the dinner as that's what we had, also I guess it depends on where you are dining in the country as each one has their own managers so for your info this is the Leamington Cafe Rouge.

      Booking
      ---------
      You can ring and book or you can book online however this didn't work for us as we only decided on that day. It looks like this service is best used well in advance. On ringing the restaurant we were able to book a table easily for 8pm.

      The Restuarant
      ----------------
      It's a french restaurant so as you would expect it's very french inside with a real french feel about it. The leamington restaurant is quite small and so is quite squashed inside, we felt quite close to the table next to us. However the atmosphere was nice with little candles on the table and it was warm (much to my delight!)

      The menu
      -----------
      There is a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. The offers looked good so at present they are doing a valentines 3 course meal (set menu with small choice) for £18.95 which is a great deal. The main menu has plenty of choice.

      Breads and Olives; There is a variety from Olives, garlic batons to humous, ranging in price from £2.95 for olives to £7.95 for petit bouchee.

      starters; there is a choice of olives, garlic batons, humous, soup, crepes and plenty more, they range from the cheapest at £4.95 to the most expensive sharing starter at £12.95.

      mains; A large variety of choice including muscles, croquettes, chicken, beef bourginone to Sea bass, there is also a grill menu with plenty of meat choices and salad. The mains range in price from £9.95 for goats cheese salad, a chicken dish is £12 to £13 and the most expensive is a 7oz steak fillet at £18.95.

      deserts; A lovely range of deserts including creme brulee, chocolate fondant, tarte tatin to crepes. The cheapest is £5.55 for the tarte au citroen and the most expensive being £6.95 for a selection of cheeses.

      My hubby is wheat and egg intolerant so although it's not an allergy he does try to avoid it if possible, we asked for the alergens menu and I have the say the girl who brought it was extremely helpful, she wanted to make sure that we understood that there could be traces in some dishes which was very kind. The allergy info sheet was a little complicated to work out as it wasn't always the same title on the same dish. There also wasn't a great deal without wheat but we did find a few, there is a chicken dish, obviously the salad and the steaks. It was useful to have the sheet however it would have been nice if the actual menu had the gluten free symbol to make it easier to see at a glance and then use the sheet to check further information.

      The food
      ---------
      So onto the best bit the food. I had the Poulet Breton £13.95, it's chicken in a leek, mushroom and white wine sauce with creamy mashed potato. I have to say it was absolutely delicious, I haven't taste a sauce as nice as that, they brought a spoon with it and it was useful as I certainly finished off all the sauce!!!
      Hubby had the Demi Poulet which is half chicken with fries. He was a little disappointed although it tasted lovely, but it was a little dry as there was no sauce, veg or salad!
      For desert we had a creme brulee which as to be expected was absolutely beautiful - yes it does have egg and yes hubby did eat it!! it's not too bad just a little from now and then is ok.

      The restaurant
      ---------------
      This is where I divert to the Leamington restaurant as each one will be different, when we arrived we were seated but weren't given a menu and after a little while hubby went to ask (they'd forgotten to bring it!), they were extremely busy it was a Saturday evening. We ordered the meal and it was probably a good 10 to 15 minutes before the olives came out and then a bit more of a wait until the main meal came. By then it was getting a little quieter and service was a lot better.
      One of the staff was very miserable, she was amicable but wasn't smiley. The rest of the staff were however polite and smiley no matter how much they must have been tired and run off their feet.

      Overall
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      We had a lovely experience but I think personally and as money is tight we probably won't be dining there in the near future, the menu we felt was very expensive but then it was extremely tasty and would be well worth it for a special night out. I would go if there were an offer on. The meal for 2 drinks (glass of white wine spritzer & beer), 1 olives, 2 mains, and 1 pudding was approx £43.00.

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        13.12.2013 06:37

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        A lovely restaurant to make your regular

        This particular post is referring to the Cafe Rouge in Dulwich, London. The first thing which strikes you is that Cafe Rouge was seemingly set up at a time when the French cafe was a romantic, almost exotic idea to most British people and they try their best to artfully recreate that in the restaurant decor. However now that most people have been to France at least once, it seems more like a cheap rip off of French culture rather than a faithful recreation of it. That being said, if you can get over this small issue then everything is plain sailing. The starters are excellent, the French bread is like all French bread (highly addictive and delicious), the main courses are a lovely mixture of French high culture and British grub, to cater to your appetite and mood and the desserts whilst limited in choice are exquisite. This is of course taking into account the relatively low price of the meal, making it very good value, especially as it doesn't replicate the modern trend of charging you an exorbitant amount and then giving you a mouse size portion, you will most definitely not feel under-nourished eating at Cafe Rouge. The service is nicely timed so that you are neither hurried nor trying to hurry the waiters yourself, but can sit back, digest and enjoy the conversation. This is a delightful restaurant which due to its low price can cement itself as one of your regular spots to relax and eat.

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        30.10.2013 14:25
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        Great buns... - I found they've yet to master the art of innuendo

        46-48 James Street
        London
        W1U 1HA
        Est: 1989
        - - -

        As a rule, I tend to miscount the number of air-cheek-kisses you're supposed to give the French on greeting. Not only are they allowed to invade your personal facial space but do so as many times as they like, when they like, under the pretense of being French. "I see it isn't two air cheek kisses now but four!" - Make perfect sense, they're French. You can see how their fiscal policies may get dealt the same treatment. "I see it isn't 2% now but 4%!" If, disagreement comes apparent, they adopt the standard pose of an exaggerated shrug with their hands and arms strung out wide and an upside down smile - the pose says more than words; the pose is universal - the pose equates to several hundred words of deflection. Have a string on onions around your neck and strike the pose and everyman and youth would know - "Ah, it is the French!" What a charade; then again, underneath the traits is a strong sense of identity and Café Rouge emulates this in each and every one of their 120 Parisian styled restaurant / cafes currently in Britain. Five pop-up annually since 'Rouge' blushed onto the scene in a trail of 'Tragus' glory (Tragus Group Ltd, are the restaurant café chain owners).

        Spotting the French in London is like spotting a long tailed tit in Trafalgar Square - they merge into the wallpaper of society, no doubt they exist in the capital in huge numbers, the problem is, neither do they wear strings of onions or sporadically shrug with an upside down smile unless of course a motive is expressed. I plopped my self in the myriad confusion of nationalities which resided in 'Café Rouge' James Street London to see if I could spot the French, doing Parisian in London. They weren't - there was all ethnic majorities present apart from the French, until I was quickly greeted by one wearing an apron and her hair up in a tight croissant. She refrained by giving me air-cheeked kisses, although, I knew she was craning to do so. I started off with a beverage; 'Americano' a large coffee, very un-French, I know - but as I was caught on the hop, and settling into conservatory orientated chairs which detested being a temporary home for my jacket; 'Like my jacket - or I will take my custom elsewhere.' On the fourth attempt, I promoted my jacket to being my seating companion, just as my counterparts had - the back chair arc design certainly wasn't an 'Arc de Triomphe.' A copy of 'Le Monde' laid crisp and clean on the bar, available for those proficient in French, the corner draped over the side and moves seductively as the petite apron hurricane passes by with hors d'oeuvres for a nearby table.

        The world famous 'Moulin Rouge' crept to mind, the sultry French are extraordinary adept to the art of flirting and the café culture; I could envisage a young, deficient stature Toulouse-Lautrec seeking homage in the flowing aprons and gowns that reside in such cafes. Montmartre, Paris or James Street London - logistics is a mere detail. The timeless décor is as timeless as the Parisian font that is evident in the corporate identity of 'Moulin Rouge,' and 'Café Rouge'- each entity mingles into each other, neither does it matter. Namesakes and French timescales plays no factor to anything, I guess it is all part of the 'Rouge' charm; 'Rouge' performance perhaps. Despite the young age of the café chain, the syndicate of apron attire staff were as industrial as a well-oiled machine. If, customers dwindled in numbers at some point in the day, I suspect a spontaneous spot of glass polishing took priority. Ordering was done in English, though I try to attempt a Parisian accent while tackling a French menu. Boeuf Bourguignon was repeated by the elfin hurricane, as if she was confirming my order - signed off with a questionable - Oui? She then scuttled off making her tidy croissant on her head wobble; it was now 13.18 - by 13.29 it was served, accompanied with the standard phrase; "bon appetite" like a prized moron, I repeated it back. The curses of pleasantries and habits bite back...

        A mini mattress of mash looked over the semi-cremated onion and bacon which gave a rustic flavour to the deep red wine sauce - beef chunks bathed in a lengthily marinating procedure enabling the fork to sink into its tenderness. The green beans were a welcome crunch in comparison, a combination of textures and flavours vaulted along my tongue. No acidity in the red wine sauce stated claim the dejeuner was cooked with the wine rather than later added. A tip from the tongue of Jay Rayner - wine is notoriously difficult to cook efficiently with; the temperature is imperative as is duration. Presentation was adequately alright and French enough; although, I've experienced Raymond's 'Le Manoir' - hardly fair to compare. No 'Café Rouge' has its own 'potager' - or could ever configure to such temerity. No rightly sound art historian would compare Quentin Blake's expressive illustrations in the 'BFG' to 'Manet's 1863 Olympia'; yet when it comes to culinary discourse we put all restaurants in the same bread-basket.

        My dejeuner was above average compared to a tuna mayonnaise baguette, a Ploughman's or something you munch on the hop - the 'Rouge' experience was somewhere in the middle of fast-food via kiosk grub and 'Michelin stardom'; making it affordable and totally inoffensive; echoed by the giant 'Café Rouge' lettering above the entrance and the whimsical 'Blake styled motifs which float on the columns and walls. For a starving man, or a starving artist, these kinds of cafes traded with such talents, in turn the French Impressionists were fed, watered and were artists in residence. Now the concept has died off, the only thing that remains are the prints and style which the artists of their day help embed into the French restaurant café culture today.

        The bill was totally inoffensive - I left £22.00 in a saucer which equated to a £4.00 tip - not bad for several quick visits to my table, displaying mandatory etiquette and allowing me close observations of her bread buns and tidy croissant - you couldn't ask for more.

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          20.04.2013 10:41
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          Good food but definitely not my first choice to eat out

          We've been to Café Rouge many times. There isn't a particular branch we visit, we just visit them sometimes whenever we're on a day out. They are located all over the country in many locations. The reason we visit normally is because I love their Salmon Fishcakes dish and we sometimes have vouchers for 2 for 1 mains or 50% off the total bill. I'd like to review the restaurant in general and things I've noticed in our visits.

          The Layout
          Café Rouge restaurants all look similar - they are French in style, very much like I'd expect a Paris café to look like. Their theme is in red and cream - dark wooden tables and seats for the main part. There is an issue with the layout in some branches where the seats are jam packed. There are sometimes outdoor seating areas, but obviously they must only get used once in a blue moon! The compactness of the seating makes it very baby unfriendly, as a Mother with a pushchair it puts me off visiting. It's not so bad now my daughter can sit in a highchair but before I needed to have the pram with me at the table. Having said that about babies, they do make children feel welcome by having a kids menu and giving out balloons to them to take home which I think is a nice touch.

          The Menu
          I find the menu is fairly limited. Usually in a restaurant I'm between 5 or 6 dishes but here there's only two that I've tried as they're the only ones that jump out at me. One of those is a dish that I love - their Salmon Fishcakes and fries - so I'm ok. They cost £9.95. The other is the Poulet Brereton which is chicken in a sauce, mash, leeks and courgettes - this costs around £12.50 and although is very tasty, I just don't find it is filling enough. For that price, I expect to feel full! There's only one dessert I've had and that's the chocolate fudge cake - it's delicious, this can also be bought in their 'coffee and cake' afternoon deal. The only starter I've ever had is their garlic dough sticks, again very delicious and come with a garlic butter. Me and my husband often order these as a snack between us if we visit for drinks and they cost £5.95 for a sharing portion. Other meals include steaks, baguettes (my husband sometimes has the chicken baguette and fries for £8.95) and lots of salads (something I never even look at!)

          For drinks, they serve the usual tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol although I'm not sure on specific alcoholic drinks as I never order them in there - I know that there is a wine list. Some of their hot drinks are a little strange. My mum just asked for a pot of tea one week and got a fruit tea, but usually when I've asked I have received a pot of Twinings English breakfast tea so perhaps it was just an error that day. My mum and husband both adore coffee (regular coffee) but they both hate the taste of the coffee served here so it might be worth ordering a small one first incase you're not keen!

          The menu overall does seem quite pricey on the surface for a 'cafe' - for two mains and two drinks, it costs us around £26 I'd say on average without any discounts, but they do offer special menus too eg 2 dishes from a set menu at lunchtime for £10, 2 dishes from a set menu in the evening for £12, although these only have a very small selection(around 3 dishes per course). Vouchers are available online sometimes to get a chunk of money off the bill though which are very handy.

          The Service
          The service we've had is mixed - and I might just sound like a bit of a miserable one here. It's very good in terms of the food coming quite soon after ordering, although we do find sometimes the drinks take a while. They always make sure that you're happy with it too part way through.

          Sometimes, I just find the staff in a lot of the branches to be too friendly if that's possible, towards my daughter in particular. I really don't mind a 'hello little one' when they take our order and when they bring the meal and we pay the bill but there's been a couple of occasions where we've just wanted a quiet sit down, food and drink and staff have been walking past cooing at her constantly! I know that probably sounds really miserable and they're only being nice, but I just feel that some of the time it's completely over the top and we'd all really rather just be left alone as a family to enjoy our meal in peace. Some people may like this, it might make some feel comfortable that the staff are so friendly but we'd personally rather the staff just leave us to it once we're served - I just think it needs a happy medium, especially while we're eating.

          We visited before 3pm for drinks only on one occasion. Once we were seated, the lady came to take the order and we said that we'd only like drinks. We were told that it was ok this once but in future we were only allowed in from 3pm onwards on Saturdays. I completely agree with the policy in terms of they can make more money from a table of food and drink rather than just drinks and that's totally acceptable, but what I thought was a little strange was that the place was only around half full. I felt really uncomfortable the whole time we were there (I felt like I was breaking rules which I suppose we were in a way!). I know it will be from management and she was just the messenger, but I would have thought that the staff should be told to only apply this rule when the restaurant is near to capacity, otherwise they're turning custom away completely and will have empty tables in their place. The bar is a separate area so it's not as though it creates more work for the waiting on staff. I think staff should be told to apply some common sense with the rule. Otherwise, the person who seats customers before ordering should ask what they would like and if they reply 'only drinks' then explain it's not possible at that time. We'd been there 5 minutes before it was mentioned and for a family with a baby it would have been a pain to have to strap my daughter mid bottle into her pushchair to leave again. I checked outside when we left and there were no signs or anything in the window so if they put one in there, that would also help customers to know the 'rules'.

          Overall
          I would recommend Café Rouge as I do like it there - we've visited plenty of times as a couple but I have been put off visiting whenever we just want a quiet meal as a family. It's not my first choice for eating out, but it is nice for a change, as the menu is a little different than your normal pub food. If you can get a voucher to help with the cost it's even better. I rate it 3 stars overall.

          Thanks for reading :o)

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            03.09.2012 23:50

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            Very poor service. The food arrived before there were drinks or cutlery on the table! We ordered Salade Nicoise au Thon (tuna). It arrived with no tuna or anchovies! Sent it back and when it came back there was still no tuna. Spoke to manageress who told me a Cafe Rouge Salad Nicoise with Tuna does not have tuna in it ! What a joke. We walked out without paying....don't go there!I then left feedback on their website and was told there was a fault on the menu. So why didnt they tell their staff or withdraw the menu? I was offered a derisory £15-00 coupon.

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            20.02.2012 10:40
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            Casual dining with hit and miss service.

            I've recently visited Cafe Rouge at Manchester Printworks for the second time.

            The first time that I visited we had a 2 for £12 voucher, while on our second visit we had a Tesco voucher giving us 40% off the food.

            The Resteraunt:

            Cafe Rouge is a chain of resteraunts which are in a faux french style, with french backing music. The resteraunt is reasonably small downstairs, with the tables very close together. As you walk in the room is dominated by a large but pretty staircase and a very dark bar area.

            The Food:
            With the 2 for £12 voucher we were mainly restrict to the Plats Rapides menu, which typically features meals that are under £10 per person.

            I chose the Poulet baguette, which featured a chicken and mayo baguette, with lightly salted french fries and a side salad. My companion had the Baguette Rouge which consisted of steak cooked to your liking, with mustard mayo, fries and a side salad.

            The chicken was tasty enough, but the baguette was slightly hard. The fries at cafe rouge are fantastically tasty and moreish. My companions steak baguette was tasty, but missing the mayo.

            The second time we ate, we chose to eat off the Plats Rapides menu again. My companion once again ate the Baguette Rouge, but enjoyed it less this time as the steak was not cut up in the baguette, making the dish harder to eat.

            I chose to have the Croque Salmon - two pieces of toasted bread topped with Gruyere cheese, with salmon and cheese inside, served with fries, horseradish mayo and salad. The croque was tasty, but very light on salmon. The horseradish mayo added bite to the dish and the fries were fantastic again.

            Service:
            Service varies at Cafe Rouge. The first time we visited the resteraunt (when it was very quiet), we were not greeted at the door and had to seat ourselves. The resteraunt was also incredibly cold. Other than that, the service was friendly.

            The second time we went was on a Sunday lunchtime and it was very busy. We were greeted at the door, but found it a squeeze to get to the table as they are placed so tightly together. However, the server on the door did offer to put my suitcase in the back room which I found to be a nice touch.

            Summary:

            Cafe Rouge is nice for a quick lunch, but the food is simply a step up from going to a Wetherspoons. The food can be hit and miss, as can the service. Without vouchers I simply wouldn't choose to go.

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              17.02.2012 13:50

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              Will never dine there again

              I have always liked the food at Cafe Rouge but every time I have been, and this is always to different locations, thje service has been hurrendous.
              The first time I dined at Cafe Rouge was at the Trafford Centre. it was for lunch and I had the Tartine à la Grecque ( an open sandwich of warm feta cheese, baby plum tomatoes, grilled courgettes, green beans and Niçoise olives with flame-roasted red pepper tapenade on grilled sourdough bread) and my mum had the Croque Monsieur (a croque of ham & melted Gruyère cheese with French fries and a salad garnish) and it was gorgeous. Brilliant food. But, and it is a big but....we waited for literally forty five minutes for a cold sandwich and ham and cheese on toast.
              To be honest, I was having a lovely day out with my mum and I would not have minded if it was busy, as we were fine with out conversation and drinks, but there was honestly only around four other tables in the restaurant. This was just unbelievable. I managed to get the waitresses attention after about thirty five minutes and she actually told us that she had forgotten to put the order through. She was nice and polite, but no apology.
              Ten minutes later our food was served by the same waitress and still, no apology.
              Like I said, the food was brilliant, but just should not have taken that long!
              When we had finished we asked for the bill and waited another fifteen minutes. This was not because the waitress was busy, as we watched her have a chat at the bar for this amount of time.
              As I work in the catering business, I know how everything works and it frustrates me when there is no valid excuse or reason for bad service.
              When the bill was eventually brought over to us, I did explain how we felt about the service and they knocked 25% off the bill which was good.
              Another time I went to Cafe Rouge was in London. Myself and my partner went there for lunch and we both had a simple chicken baguette.
              A quarter of my way into my baguette I realised that the chicken was actually raw and I had actually eaten some!! My partner checked his and his was the same, His baguette was actually stained with blood. I just dont think this is acceptable. I had to go and make myself vomit as if I didnt I deffinately would have been food poisoned. Yes they took the food off the bill for us and yes they were apologetic, but at the end of the day, a trained, qualified, experienced chef should never be so lazy to actually cook up raw chicke. It just should not happen.
              I have also been to the Liverpool One branch and the service was not good.
              These are three different Cafe Rougu branches and at all of them we havn't had the greatest experiences!
              I wont be dining at Cafe Rouge again as I think that their staff are undertrained and they need to deliver a better service in order for me to hand over my money again.

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              11.02.2012 09:05
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              A great place for a quick lunch

              Cafe Rouge is a national chain of French styled restaurants. There are currently over 100 sites. The chain is owned and operated by Tragus ltd, which also owns Strada and Bella Italia. The chain serves food all day, including main meals, lighter bites, salads and the express menu, or Plats Rapides.

              My local one is on James Street in London, a lovely little road just off Oxford Street and close to Selfridges which houses a variety of restaurants, both chain and individual ones.

              I am reviewing this as a place to go for a quick lunch, not as a restaurant I would choose to go for a slap up evening meal - there are much nicer places out there. I try to meet a friend here for lunch every couple of weeks or so as we both enjoy the food, and we are able to take advantage of the Taste Card 50% discount (see my previous review on this).

              The restaurant itself is fairly small and the tables are pushed close together in order to get the highest capacity - ok for a quick lunch time bite, but not ideal for a romantic candle lit affair. There are also tables outside for the summer or the smokers amongst us. I always book before we go, sometimes only half an hour before, and have always been greeted courteously and taken directly to a table. The walls are painted with the names of various hot drinks and pictures of bottles of wine. Whilst in there it is easy to forget that you are only moments away from the hubbub of Oxford Street.

              The menu has something for everyone and vegetarians seem to be well catered for. You can start off with a basket of French bread, or one of the smaller plates (petits plats) for £3 of 4 for £10 which includes duck & smoked chicken pate, pulled pork pate or blue cheese & walnuts, all served with bread.

              The starters include French Onion Soup, Moules Marinieres and Deep Fried Camembert and are priced around £6 to £7.

              The salads include a delicious sounding Goats Cheese one with Marinated Peppers & Olives, Chicken Caesar and Salmon Nicoise costing between £10-£12.

              There is a choice of 28 days matured steak dishes including a signature Rib Eye for £17 or a Bavette marinated in rosemary & garlic served with fried and Garlic Butter for £13.50.

              The main courses include Coq Au Vin (£13), Bouillabaisse (£14.25) and Crispy Duck Confit (£15). A variety of side dishes are available too.

              My favourite part of the menu is the Plat Rapides. They are incredibly quick, usually in front of you within 5 minutes, hot and delicious. The dishes include a Chargrilled Steak Baguette, a twice baked Cheese Souffle, which I keep meaning to try, and my favourite - the Croque Monsieur for £8.50. It is served with a salad garnish and fries and I am yet to have a bad one. A Croque Monsieur is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, with the ham inside the bread, and melted cheese on the top. The bread is soft and tasty, the ham is a generous portion and delicious, and the melted gruyere cheese tops it off fantastically. The portion size as a whole is good and always leaves me feeling full. We did find a restaurant close by which also serves Croque Monsieur, but it did not live up to the Cafe Rouge standard! Every time I go I keep saying I will have something else, but it's too good not to have!

              The service is OK - they take your order, they bring the food, they clear the table and bring you the bill - nothing exceptional, but when you are rushing in for lunch, what more do you need?

              Address
              46-48 James St
              London
              W1U 1HA
              020 7487 4847
              Opening hours
              Mon - Fri: 8.30am - 11.00pm
              Sat: 9.00am - 11.00pm
              Sun: 9.00am - 10.30pm

              Thanks for reading.
              Rachel

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                09.01.2012 18:27

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                Cafe rouge Reigate the rudest waiter,worst manners don't bother giving them your cashMy partner and I were served by a waiter there who spoke to us in the rudest and abrupt tone as if we did not deserve to eat there, he even left the table to open a door whilst in the middle of ordering from my partner without excusing himself or apologising .In the end we cancelled the order and left as my partner was so upset at how he spoke to us .If I was with any one else I would have kicked up a fuss but my partner was already upset and so we went elsewhere .Good manners cost nothing but the lack of them cost them my customI suggest to any one go elsewhere this mob think they are above everyone in terms of basic courtesy.

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                03.11.2011 21:13
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                Simple dishes well prepared

                One of my friends got married in secret recently and we decided to mark the occasion with a 'girls only' meal at Cafe Rouge in Blackheath, London. A reservation was made and we were given a table in a fairly quiet corner of the restaurant (no mean feat on a Saturday evening!). Although we were sat in a quiet corner, we could still hear the general chatter of a french restaurant as well as the music. It was quite refreshing to be in a restaurant in London on a Saturday where the staff are relaxed - relaxed staff equals relaxed clientelle!

                One of our party was late, but the waiting staff didn't rush us - they were happy to wait for all of us to arrive. They kept us topped up with drinks until we were ready to order. My friend chose from the set menu, and myself and the other woman chose from the main menu. Specifically, I had the onion soup to start, followed by chicken caesar salad. Despite the fact that it was a busy Saturday evening, there was no wait to speak of for the first course to arrive. Boy was it worth the wait! Onion soup - amazing! Such a simple concept, but sooooo delicious. The soup served at Cafe Rouge got the balance between soup and crouton just right.

                Moving on to the main course - the salad arrived with the caesar dressing in a pot on the side (ideal if you're watching your weight). Again, a simple dish, yet so many places manage to get it wrong. Not so here. I could easily have eaten two (or three) plates of salad.

                The two others in our party had different dishes and were similarly impressed. We also had desert (lemon sorbet) to round the evening off. Between the three of us, dinner amounted to £60 so it was extremely good value for the standard of meal that we had. The waiting staff were friendly, courteous and didn't rush us out of the restaurant. At no point did we have to draw the waiting staff's attention to the fact that our glasses were empty - they noticed straight away and asked if we would like more.

                One of the habits I've picked up from my mum is that I have to 'inspect' the toilets in any restaurant I eat in. Her logic is that clean toilets equate to a clean establishment overall. Well if that's the case, Cafe Rouge's kitchen must be gleaming!

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                  26.09.2011 16:31
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                  Cafe Rouge - Milton Keynes

                  This is a review about Cafe Rouge and in particular the one located in The Centre Milton Keynes.

                  One of my favourite places for lunch in Milton Keynes now is Cafe Rouge. According to their website:

                  "Café Rouge has embodied the style and je ne sais quoi of French dining since it opened way back in 1989 with a combination of delicious food, great wines and a real ambience. Our menu covers a range of French classics from croques and baguettes, ideal for a quick and easy snack, to more substantial fare such as steak frites and boeuf bourguignon. Likewise, our wines are predominately French, many made by lesser known producers, and provide the perfect accompaniment to the food on offer."

                  The Centre MK didn't used to have much in the way of nice dining, just a McDonald's and some restaurants outside but int he last couple of years they have added a sort of food court area where they have built such restaurants as Yo Sushi, Carluccio's, Nando's and Cafe Rouge to name but a few. I always like to stop at Cafe Rouge for lunch rather than dinner as I see it as more of a nice lunch restaurant than a posh dinner restaurant.

                  It's fairly in the middle, near to the Marks and Spencer side of the shopping centre than John Lewis but easy to find on the automated store finders located throughout the centre. The restaurant is fairly big and what I like is that outside the restaurant there are tables and chairs with umbrellas and lots of plants all around which gives you the impression that you are sitting outside in some lovely little French town soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sunshine even though you are sitting in the middle of a shopping centre!

                  Like it says above Cafe Rouge is a French restaurant. It is a chain of restaurants so it's not what I would call a unique quality French restaurant but to get a feel of food from this country it's a nice place to go. Each restaurant looks the same and has nice warm decorations in my opinion. The colour scheme is red and cream which is quite inviting and on the walls there are always lots of paintings and prints with wine/food/French themes etc, really working with the decor and theme of the restaurant.

                  The food is what I would call typical French, lots of cheese, bread (baguette) and steak dishes which are very tasty. In fact my favourite dish at lunch is always the steak baguette which comes with some lovely pomme frites as well. The desserts in here are to die for and again something typically French like crepes with lots of chocolate as the main ingredient. My favourite dessert is the waffle with a poached pear on top and lashings of warm chocolate sauce that the staff pour on for you once it reaches the table.

                  I feel sometimes it is a little expensive for lunch in here compared to say just going to a Pizza Express or something like that but the food and atmosphere is worth it and in this particular restaurant I have always food the staff very helpful. Whether this is because they have only opened recently and are trying to make a good impression but I do think it is good. Usually my lunch will come to about £15 which is a bit expensive but worth it now and again.

                  I haven't used it at this restaurant but when I worked in London there was one right near our office in St Katharine's Docks and Cafe Rouge offered a Plats Rapids which basically means a fast meal so when we only had an hour for lunch this was perfect.

                  A nice place for a bit of French cuisine!

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                  24.09.2011 23:43
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                  'French' food that's certainly not worth the money.

                  My French flatmate, who has resided in the UK for over two years now, does love French restaurants. As much as she likes to travel and get away from her native homeland, she has never turned her back on French cuisine. The number of stinky cheeses that turn up in our fridge is testimony to this!
                  One of her favourite French restaurants in Edinburgh is Café Rouge, a restaurant which belongs to a chain of over a hundred in the UK. Twice she has taken us there for her birthday and, I'm sad to say, twice I have been just a touch disappointed.

                  *~RED ALL AROUND~*

                  I first went to Café Rouge last September and the Edinburgh restaurant has a welcoming and relaxing ambience. With a name like Café Rouge, the theme is of course red and a lovely rich red at that. The whole place is covered in quirky French décor including retro posters such as Toulouse Lautrec's 'Moulin Rouge'. Even the bathrooms have French posters up in them (Not that there is much room for many - Don't expect to be able to fit in those bathrooms easily if you are of the more rotund figure).
                  Since last year, nothing has changed and it still has that pleasant atmosphere that it once had. Upon the most recent occasion of visiting, we had a party of 12 and they gave us a long table at the back of the restaurant. I am glad they did this because it gave us some peace and quiet away from the bustle of the rest of the place.

                  *~OOH LA LA, WAS IT REALLY WORTH ALL THAT?~*

                  Upon my first visit to the restaurant, we were in a smaller group of four people. Apart from the vegetarian amongst us, we decided to go for a sharing platter for our starter which included some delicious meats like Saucisson, some French cheese (I believe it was Brie) and some gherkins (amongst other things). I absolutely loved this as a starter because it gave you the chance to sample a variety of things, many of which are distinctly French. I was therefore feeling excited about my main course - a 5oz steak with peppercorn sauce. And what a disappointment! The only way I could describe my 5oz steak was 'TRES PETIT'. Even after googling a 5oz steak I'm convinced it was on the small side and when I say small side, I mean bitesized! I felt a bit cheated that I had spent over £12 on it, especially when the size of the portion of fries was equally tiny. However, being British I didn't say a word. When the waitress actually did come round to ask how things were, we replied with the obligatory 'fine'. Any complaint has been kept amongst friends or, in this case, voiced on an online community like this. I can only say that I am glad that we brought a calorific cake with us for Ludivine's birthday - a home-made red velvet cake covered in red buttercream icing (to match the restaurant of course). If we hadn't had this cake with us I think I would have went hungry for the rest of the night.

                  As a result of our initial visit to Café Rouge I definitely wasn't in a hurry to visit again. The only thing that really encouraged me to go was that I learnt I could use my Tesco Clubcard vouchers to spend on Café Rouge. This is fantastic as every £5 of Clubcard vouchers equals £15 to spend in Café Rouge. You can use them so long as you've not chosen something from the set menu and so long as you don't use them on drinks. Another restriction is supposed to be that your party has to be less than 10 people. However, I phoned weeks in advance and was told I could use them regardless of the number of people in our group.

                  My recent visit to Café Rouge certainly felt like better value for money as a result of these vouchers. I had £20 to spend and my boyfriend had £20 too. I therefore only spent about £6 in cash (including tips). Was an absolute bargain! (Thank you Tesco!)
                  This time round I had two starters. I was rather sad that they no longer had the sharing platter I had a year previously but I settled with two dishes. The first starter was a tiny dish which was part of the 'Petit Plats' selection. The dish was 'Feta et Poivron', which was feta cheese, marinated red peppers and French bread. The cheese and the red peppers were melt in your mouth delicious and you were provided with deliciously crispy and soft French bread to go with it. The second starter I had was 'Crevettes à l'ail' which was king prawns cooked with chilli and garlic butter, also served with French bread. I also really enjoyed this. The prawns had a lovely spicy kick and it was great to be able to dip the bread in the chilli and garlic butter left over.
                  For my main course I had Salmon fishcakes with fries. This came with a lime and coriander mayonnaise. Again, I'd been impressed with the starter but was disappointed by the main course. The problem with the fishcakes is that the dish is rather dry and could really do with more mayonnaise or a runny sauce which you could pour on the fishcakes. I was thankful that they did bring out an assortment of condiments like tomato sauce and mayonnaise. However, it didn't take away from the fact that the fishcakes were distinctly average. I wanted something that I could distinguish from any supermarket-bought fishcake and this just didn't do the trick. It was a good thing then that I did get some dauphinoise potatoes as a side. I adore dauphinoise potatoes and the ones at Café Rouge were delicious with creamy layers of sliced potatoes.

                  Now by this point in the evening I was thoroughly stuffed. Anticipating a large meal I had purposely avoided food for most of the day. However, even that amount of food went past my limits (and that was with sharing out my chips to people). I avoided getting a dessert whilst the others ordered theirs. I am yet to try out a dessert at Café Rouge but as I still have a £20 voucher my boyfriend and I may pop round there some time to sample a dessert.

                  *~FREE WINE? WHAT, REALLY?~*

                  When we first went to Café Rouge the service was absolutely fine. Everything was served in time with appropriate breaks between the meals. The second time we went to Café Rouge we were not quite so lucky. It seemed that even with us pre-booking a table for 12, they didn't seem to be able to handle such a large group.
                  We spent somewhere over two hours in that restaurant spending a vast amount of that time feeling like we'd been forgotten. This didn't actually bother me too much as I quite liked having that time to relax and digest my food in the presence of some of my closest friends. However, I did feel sorry for those who didn't order any starters because they seemed to wait an age as it did take an awful long time for main courses to be brought out. This surprised me as the restaurant didn't seem hugely busy. We were even able to German dice game into the space of time between our starters and our main course.
                  I think by this point, the head waiter must have realized that a few amongst our party had grown just a touch impatient. We'd been in the restaurant for about an hour and a half without any main course. Before our main course, he came out and said 'Would you like some wine?' In this instance, I think a few of us did not realize that what he had actually said was 'Would you like some free wine?' We spent a few moments gormlessly pondering the option before realizing it was on the house. As some of us were not wine drinkers, we opted for a nice cold jug of Coca Cola and a jug of Fanta. I have to say that I was really pleased that they did this. It turned round my opinion of the service for that night. Of course, I'm quite sure they wanted to make sure that we still felt obliged to pay our 10% service charge (which is added on for any party which has ten people or more).

                  *~A LITTLE BIT OF PARIS IN EDINBURGH?~*

                  My time at Café Rouge has always been a relaxing and rather enjoyable experience. However, I do feel that it is overpriced for what it is. The cheapest main course there is £7.95 for something like a Croque Monsieur and I'm not entirely sure that I could justify paying that much for what is practically a toastie.
                  I suppose I could justify the price of the food if the food was spectacular but it really isn't anything special. I've been to a few restaurants in Edinburgh with similar prices and the food has been of a much higher standard.

                  I suppose one problem with French restaurants, especially in Edinburgh, is that they are rather pricey. Café Rouge is probably the most affordable French restaurant I've come across in the city, although I use the word 'French' loosely. I feel more inclined to describe it as French-styled. There's no Escargot in this restaurant and anything distinctly French seems like a pale imitation to the real French food I'd tried when I was in France. However, maybe I shouldn't judge? My French flatmate after all seems to love it.

                  I think the main problem with Café Rouge is that it is fairly enjoyable but the food in no way justifies the price. It is a real shame because with the quirky French décor and what looks like a fairly appetizing menu, it has the potential to be excellent. This restaurant, on the other hand, remains far down the list on restaurants I would chose for my night out in Edinburgh.

                  *~Thank you for reading my review :-) ~*

                  *~Also published on Ciao - September 2011~*

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                    01.08.2011 03:24
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                    Good value for a family treat!

                    My famiily and I are regular diners at Cafe Rouge, particularly the Didsbury restaurant in Manchester as it is our local one. We have celebrated many occasions there over the years as well as just using it as a handy place for a coffee or breakfast.

                    We have been twice in the last couple of months and I thought it may be useful to write a review. Clearly we like the menu here. We lived in France for a couple of months and for a reasonably priced French meal Cafe Rouge is hard to beat. When we first returned to Manchester from Paris we used to go to Cafe Rouge to quell some of our hankering to be back in France! Nowadays there seem to be less French pictures on the walls and so if feels less like a French bistro but I still enjoy the food there and more importantly so do my children!

                    Cafe Rouge, for those who are not familiar with it, is a nationwide chain of French style bistros. They are open from around 9.30 in the morning right through to 11pm and so offer breakfasts, coffees,snacks, lunch and dinner. You can also just sit outside on the terrace and have a nice cold glass of wine or beer. They encourage families and there is a decent children's menu with the ubiquitous drawing/colouring activity sheet and crayons provided to entertain little ones whilst they are waiting for their food. However it feels very much like a grown up restaurant and most of the clientele are usually adults. This is one of the things I like best about it because when your children are small it is nice to feel that you are welcome in a grown up environment and that your dining out are not limited to loud kiddy places or McDonalds.

                    The breakfast menu is substantial offering a fantastic choice from pastries to the full English breakfast with all sorts of delicious alternatives including a vegetarian cooked breakfast and a children's sized one! They also offer Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon, Eggs Benedict or Muesli with fruit. All washed down with their delicious cappuccinos or a hot chocolate for the children!

                    The main menu has changed a little adding some more unusual choices such as a Souffle and various tarts with Mediterranean style fillings all of which sounded delicious. They offer a wide range of breads to nibble on served with butter or garlic butter. My children particularly like the bread batons which are more substantial than the type offered by Italian restaurants and are useful for toddlers to amuse themselves with before the meal.

                    They have recently introduced a Petits Plats Menu, similar to Spanish tapas, which offer a selection of small dishes for a very reasonable £3 each or four for £10. These include olives, rillettes de porc (pork pate), hummous and tapenades.

                    The starters are wide ranging including soups, pates, garlic king prawns,Moules Marnieres and some delicious deep fried Camembert.

                    As far as main courses go there is a huge selection. My one complaint about Cafe Rouge is that they are quite slow in serving the food but I think that is because it is cooked freshly and when it does come it never fails to please. There is a wide range of smaller dishes and salads, some of which are calorie counted which is very useful if you are watching your weight. They do some lovely baguettes with chicken or minute steak in them and served with fries.They always ask how you want your steak cooked even for the baguette and it is always tender and juicy. Also the fantastic French version of a ham and cheese toasted sandwich, the Croque Monsieur which is my son's personal favourite here. Then there is a wide range steaks, all offered with various sauces, traditional French specialities such as Confit of Duck, Bouillabaisse which is a delicious fish stew or the very scrumptious Salmon fishcakes.

                    There are a lot of vegetarian options accross the whole menu including tarts, salads an aubergine gratin, a medley of vegetables in a creamy white wine sauce and a twice baked cheese souffle.

                    The prices at Cafe Rouge are not overly expensive and I think the quality of the food definitely makes the prices seem good value. The entrees range from £4.95 to £6.25, the main courses are from £7.75 to £16.25 which is for a 10oz rib eye steak. The desserts come in between £3.95 to £6.95 and include such favourites as Tarte Tatin and Creme Brulee as well as ice cream sundaes, crepes and an assortment of desserts if you can't make up your mind!

                    The children's menu is a very reasonable £5.75 which covers a main course, dessert and drink which they get free refills of. There is a choice of sausages,salmon fishcake or cheese omelette all served with a choice of fries, mash or new potatoes. They are served with an little individual dish of vegetables and salad. There is also pasta with a choice of two sauces or a pizza baguette. The desserts on the children's menu are a choice of different sundaes either with ice cream, jelly or fruit....all yummy!

                    There is always a Prix Fixe Menu at lunch and dinner which provides a cheaper option with a few choices for each course and there are usually a couple of daily specials available which give you yet another decision to make!

                    I find the staff there extremely courteous and helpful and they always greet you and say goodbye as you leave. We have dined here many times over the years and I can't see that changing anytime soon. My children are growing up....we only have one left using the children's menu now but they all love coming here as much as we do.

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                    28.02.2011 23:16
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                    Would never patronise the place again.

                    Attended the Cafe Rouge in The Printworks, Manchester last week, ordered our starters and mains along with drinks, starters came quite quickly and were very nice as usual but then we had been waiting for over 20 minutes for our mains to arrive and was getting a bit fed up of waiting, asked for the bill for what we had had, and was met by the most rudest and obnoxious Manageress we had ever met, she told us we would have to pay for the mains, when we refused she ran into the Printworks to get a Security man!!! he later said to us it was nothing to do with them, we eventually managed to get a revised bill of the starters and drinks and paid for these. This woman clearly has no idea of Customer Service, she said the long wait was because of the "well done steak" that was on the order, since when does it take up to45 minutes to cook??? We will definately never return to this establishment and wish we had never gone there in the first place, we have eaten here on numerous occasions in the past and it is usually not too bad, never again, apart from the exchanges with this woman, we were made to look and feel extremely awkward as all this took place in the middle of the restuarant.

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                      13.02.2011 22:59
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                      A decent place for a meal

                      This review pertains to the Cafe Rouge in Glasgow which opened in 2010. I first found Cafe Rouge at Cheshire Oaks when on a shopping trip looking for a quick coffee stop. The service was really good and the coffee lovely so I was pleased when I read that we were getting one in Glasgow.

                      Cafe Rouge in Glasgow is on Royal Exchange Square, 5 minutes walk from both Queen Street and Central Station and the main shopping centres. It has a stiff bit of competition on the square from Di Maggio's, Costa, and Starbucks as well as many other restaurants in and around Queen Street and Buchanan Street.

                      It is decorated in the usual red and has an outside seating area where you would be able to people watch and enjoy the nice weather. It is over two floors with additional seating and toilets downstairs. When you go in there is usually a staff member over quickly to get you a seat. Sometimes it is busy and there is a waiting time, other times, you can get a table quickly. The staff seem to be a mixture of French and British and range from students to older. The manager is often on the floor and checks that customers are happy. Inside it is nicely decorated with wall mirrors, nice lamps and the continuing red theme.

                      Most tables are for two but they are quick to combine them for bigger groups. Tables are set when you enter and the drinks menu (with a snack section on page one) will already be on the table. The server brings the menu and any special menu to you. If there are specials they let you know. If you are spending clubcard vouchers, you have to order from the main menu and can't take advantage of the deals.

                      I've had breakfast in Cafe Rouge twice. The coffee is good quality, as is the Pain Perdu (french toast with fresh fruit and honey). According to my dining companion, the omelettes are also very good. The food arrives promptly and you are left to eat at your leisure. There are a few different hot and cold drinks available at breakfast and a range of foods - croissants and other pastries, toasts, eggs, and more traditional bacon and similar type dishes. There is also a childrens option and a set meal for £6 which includes a cold and hot drink, fresh bread, pastry and conserves. Breakfast is served til midday.

                      Lunch is available between 12 and 5pm every day at a cost of £6.50 for 1 course, and £8.50 for 2 courses. The menu seems a little limited to me so I have ordered from the main menu where you can get traditional favourites such as Croque Monsieur (served with chips and salad). The salad has a nice garlic dressing and the chips are thin chips.

                      A set dinner deal is available for £10.50 after 5pm, Sunday to Thursday. Goat's cheese tartlets, salad, pasta and crepes are available. Due to my wanting to use Clubcard vouchers, I had to have the main menu which was fine. We had the baked camembert starter which comes with fresh bread and celery. This was tasty but my personal preference would be less celery and more bread! As I was paying with vouchers it was fine, but I am not sure this is worth the £8 on the menu.

                      For the main course, I had the croque monsieur (love these!) and my friend a steak baguette. Both were served with chips and salad and both were nice. The chips are already salted when they arrive.

                      There is a lovely dessert menu with dishes such as crepes, creme brulee and various sundaes. All cost around £4-5 and are worth the money. The chocolate and banana crepe needs particular mention!

                      Overall, I think the service in the Glasgow branch is good. The food is nice although some dishes are over priced. The clubcard deal makes this restaurant worth a visit if you have vouchers. Otherwise, it is a nice relaxing place to catch up with a friend over a decent meal.

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