Newest Review: ... 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... more
I must be anti-social and miserable!
Member Name: scooch12
Date: 20/04/13, updated on 20/04/13 (74 review reads)
Advantages: Lovely food, vouchers available often
Disadvantages: Staff sometimes make a beeline for babies so not great for a quiet meal
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.
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.
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 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'.
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)
Summary: Good food but definitely not my first choice to eat out