(Added June 22, 2014. Unfortunately ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar is closed)
CTbites recently attended a press dinner at ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar, a brand new dining venture in the eclectic Byram section of Greenwich, owned by the cb5 restaurant group, which formerly owned Bleu on Greenwich Avenue. Chef Josh Moulton returns to cb5 in Greenwich after his role as Executive Chef at the Monkey Bar and Moda in NYC and West Restaurant in Los Angeles. The menu features hearty French bistro fare including classic steak tartare, sautéed foie gras, onion soup gratinee, skate meuniere, poulet en croute, and short rib Bourguignon.
The restaurant, which previously housed the sexy Lolita Cocina (also owned by cb5), was graciously redefined with huge ornate white mirrors, exposed brick walls, elaborate chandeliers, and a more subtle color palette. It's playful but elegant, and the perfect spot for a first date.
One mustn’t overlook the bar with such creative cocktails as personal POP Champagne bottles, French Kiss and Chanel No.5 martinis, and Brigitte Bardot and Broken Heart cocktails. The drinks were fun, festive, fresh and vibrant, each name living up to its reputation. My favorite was The French Kiss. How can you go wrong with a name like that? Made with gin, white lillet, elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit, this drink was crisp and refreshing.
We moved to the dining room where a large Plateaux de Fruits de Mer of large prawns, generously sized lobster tails, sweet and succulent Blue Point oysters, Beaujoleil and Little Neck clams and stone crabs were waiting. For those who wished, there was a cocktail sauce, a smokey roux with lemon, paprika, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard as well as a Mignonette, a sauce of vinegar and shallots, to accompany the seafood.
We also enjoyed Rouge’s version of fish and chips. These are like no other fish and chips you have ever eaten. Served over homemade potato chips, with Trout and Paddlefish caviar, diced egg, shallot chives and crème fraiche, the fish simply danced in our mouths.
Nothing could possibly prepare us for what came next, Escargots Bourguignon with shallot, parsley butter. If you love butter and garlic you’ll delight over this dish. The escargots were slow cooked to perfection. Perfection.
Next on the menu was the Classic Steak Tartare made from hand cut prime filet accompanied by charred country toast. The crisp country toast was the perfect vehicle for the tartare which was prepared with a Sabayon, a cooked sauce made from egg yolk, cognac, as well as bits of cornichons, shallots, capers, Worcestershire, and mustard. This version contains no raw egg.
The Warm Onion Tart with tomato confit and Niçoise olives was next, followed by the Salmon Forrestiere. The warm onion tart didn’t win me over. Unlike the other items, I found the flavors to be somewhat lacking and the tart to be a bit on the greasy side. The salmon, however, was delightful with a crispy sear that revealed a perfectly cooked, tender fillet inside. Served over sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach and a lemon-thyme jus, this dish did not disappoint.
The Moules Frites in their sauce of white wine, garlic and fine herbs were succulent and flavorful but I would be remiss not to praise the perfectly crisp and salted frites. Dipped in the jus of the moules, our serving of fries disappeared quickly.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the Steak Frites, served with a Béarnaise sauce was perfectly seasoned and cooked. A light searing and a crust of salt and pepper packed a simple but powerful bite. The flavor and texture married well as each bite melted in my mouth.
Whether you’re looking for a good meal or a good cocktail, Rouge offers both in a charming restaurant that’s somewhat off the beaten path.
ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar - 230 Mill Street - Greenwich, CT