Cafe Rouge is one of my favourite places to eat, and so armed with some friends and a 2-4–1 on main meals voucher I visited the restaurant down Cardiff Bay recently. Unfortunately I was suffering with a fairly heavy cold, but the food was strong and flavoursome enough that I could still enjoy it, even if I couldn’t hear a thing people said to me.
As with many chains, the decor is pretty much the same in each location, in this case a depiction of a French Cafe which feels slightly like a jokey caricature, but not so much so as to be offensive or overbearing. This particular restaurant overlooks Cardiff Bay and Barrage, with some seating outside which proves very popular in the summer with people who wish to spend a relaxing evening enjoying good food and wine. The restaurant itself was pretty busy on this occasion, which reflected in the speed of service.
As with the decor, the menus are standard across the chains; this meant I had a fair idea of what I fancied eating before I even turned up. To begin with we decided to share some starters between us going for the Fougasse bread and dips and some Petit Saucisson.
The bread was shaped like a leaf and still warm from the oven, the accompanying dips (hummus, garlic mayo and warm tomato and chilli) were all great. The sausages were garlicky if a little chewy. We even managed to end up with an extra serving when the staff got confused, so there was plenty to go around.
For my main course I went for the Beef Bourguignon. This was served with dauphinoise potatoes and French beans. The mains were slow to arrive, but when they did turn up it was worth it. The beef itself was meltingly tender, falling apart to the touch, and the rich sauce contains plenty of baby onions, mushrooms and bacon. My only complaint (apart from my blocked nose meaning I was not quite tasting as I should and that flavoursome as it seemed, it was probably even better) would be that the potatoes on one side of my block of dauphinoise were slightly undercooked and as a result a bit solid. The side that was cooked was delicious though, and the meal had the warming and comforting effect I was looking for.
Of those dining with me, one also went for the Beef Bourguignon and the other two went for steaks.
All in all this was a pleasant meal out. Luckily we weren’t in too much of a hurry or else the slow service might have spoiled things slightly, but as it was it ended up being only a slight annoyance. The food was satisfying and tasty even through my cold. Cafe Rouge, although not the most glamorous or upmarket place to eat is great for a meal out or a relaxed lunch.