Of The WeekRouge French Bistro Offers Fine Food, Traditional Setting
Of The Week
Rouge French Bistro Offers Fine Food, Traditional Setting
As the name suggests, this wonderfully cozy restaurant emulates a traditional French bistro, right down to the Moulin Rouge-inspired red walls. It’s all in the details at Rouge, from the long banquettes lined with comfy pillows to the antique French art deco wall sconces, which give off a romantic glow in which to dine. Owners George Scott and Declan O’Reilly spared no expense in recreating a bit of France right here in Queens. Mirrors reflect patrons sipping glasses of French wine and the courteous wait staff clad in crisp, white shirts and red ties. Lace curtains on the glass doors and mahogany coat trees add to the ambience of this brand-new bistro on restaurant row in Forest Hills.
French bistros are noted for their fabulous food and Rouge fills the bill, offering a relatively small, but varied selection of soups, salads and entrées, all prepared by the chef who graduated from the famed Cordon Bleu school in Paris. Yet for all this authenticity and fine cuisine, Rouge’s prices are affordable to all, as evidenced by a dining room filled to capacity just one week after opening.
We started with a delicate tartlet of sweet onions with a sublimely tender and flaky crust ($7.95). Traditional French onion soup is the real deal here, though. Other soups of the day may include potato leek or another of the chef’s specialties. Handmade garlic sausage with lentils is another favorite. Mussels steamed with white wine can be ordered as a first course or a generous entrée portion. The mussels were very fresh and prepared the French way without garlic, but flavored with shallots, herbs and white wine instead ($8.95). Rouge’s salads are a treat as well. The winter salad is a healthy, robust toss of shredded endive, red cabbage and raisins with a zesty horseradish vinaigrette ($6.95). Also on the menu, fromage et charcuterie pour deux, which is featured in many French restaurants, is an assortment of fine French cheeses and sliced cold cuts for two.
Of course, a fine wine is de rigeur with French cuisine and Rouge offers a nice selection, starting at $20 per bottle. Wine connoisseurs will delight in a "flight of wine," which is a two-ounce sampling of four different red or white wines to complement each course. The dessert wines are also well matched to the fabulous patisserie selections.
Main courses include meat and fish, with additional specials each night. Seared breast of duck with its glaze of orange, bitter cocoa and peppercorns is out of this world ($17.95). Fricassee, a traditional stew of tender chicken with sweet onions, is served with rice. Roasted chicken breast is made extra special when flavored with fresh tarragon and shitake mushrooms ($14.95).
All entrees at Rouge are served with roasted shallot mashed potatoes and vegetables du jour, except where noted. Steak frites, for example, is a classic French meal that is served with home made, shoestring-fried potatoes. Braised lamb shank is a hearty dish that stands up to sautéed winter vegetables. Grilled double-cut pork chops come with a whirl of calvados cream and baked apple for the perfect winter meal. Offered as a special, the chef’s rack of lamb is a singular experience.
For those who prefer seafood, I highly recommend white and flaky Rouge’s baked cod, resting on compote of fennel and tomato. Pan-seared sea scallops derive their unique flavor from a delicious basil, bacon and cream sauce. Even a simple pan-roasted salmon filet with butter, white wine and lemon is a treat for the senses.
A big part of French cuisine is fine pastries and desserts. Save room for one of Rouge’s fresh fruit tarts or chocolate tarts, whose crust will melt in your mouth. Of course, there’s lighter-than-air chocolate mousse, and creamy crème brulee, with its browned caramel glaze. Don’t forget to complement your dessert with an appropriate wine or digestif. There is champagne by the glass as well.
A meal at Rouge is seems like a trip to France without the expense or hassle. The service is pleasant and efficient. The adjoining bar welcomes patrons for a cocktail or a meal at the sleek, granite tables, especially convenient for solo diners.
For now, Rouge is open for dinner only, seven days a week. There are plans to expand service in the near future, and sidewalk seating is being planned for the summer. But don’t wait till then. Hurry to Rouge before everyone finds out about this charming French bistro. Au revoir!
Rouge French Bistro
107-02 70th Rd.