In a Word:
Shoppers, families, anyone who fancies something other than a cheap burger, or chips to eat and drink.
Back to the Trafford Centre. Again.
I’m beginning to think the editors at Tasting Britain are determined to torture me. But no matter, once again husband and I were winging our way through the throngs to the food court and, once again, seeking solace in a restaurant.
There are far worse places to be.
Cafe Rouge tries very hard to maintain an air of classic French Bistro style in the hustle and bustle of the Trafford Centre. For the most part it succeeds – don’t sit outside, sit inside, where the vintage French Vogue posters can look at you from the walls in all their elegance, brass fittings, large mirrors and dark wood surround you.
Oh, and it’s nice and quiet. The restaurant sits quite deep, so there’s music, rather than the squeals and shouts of children and the voices of a hundred or so people in queues awaiting food and drink.
I know where I’d rather be.
Before we even contemplated starters, there was wine, beer and olives. Cafe Rouge have also started to take notice of the craft beer movement, and there are other options to the standard commercial beers on the menu. Take a punt, it’s worth it.
And the olives? Don’t miss out on these – particularly the tiny red peppers, often known as sweety drop, that offer a gently, hot, sweet punch.
They’re bloody addictive.
For the starters themselves, I couldn’t resist the chaucuterie and a little saucisson.
I could say it all day – it’s such a good word. This was great, full of flavour, slightly chewy and accompanied by another favourite, caper berries. Added to my glass of Cotes du Rhone and I was a happy lady.
The husband went fungal, with mushrooms on toast. Garlicky toasted pain, with mushrooms in a garlic and cream sauce, which soaked into that toast and made it rather sexy. the restaurant had used chestnut mushrooms, rather than plain old button mushies, which cheered me immensely. They’ve a much nuttier flavour.
So far, so good.
The husband went classic with steak frites, with the sirloin and snails in garlic butter. I honestly couldn’t figure out if he was trying to stop me kissing him later or not.
The steak was tender and cooked perfectly rare, the snails, though I have to admit I’m not really a fan, were done well and better than a lot I’ve had before. Not a chewy morsel in sight.
I decided a little challenge was in order. I’ve eaten duck confit many a time. And many a time I’ve left it uneaten. It’s been overdone to the point where I could use it to jimmy windows with, and under done to the point that the fat is soggy and unpleasant. I was keen to see what this chain, in the middle of a shopping centre could do.
Fuck me. This was good. Really good.
The meat fell off the bone, but the fat was crisp. This was how it should be. The dauphinoise potatoes accompanying it were done beautifully, the beans still held bite and the cherry sauce was rich and sweet.
But that duck.
Thoroughly distracted by crispy duck fat and garlicky potatoes, the dessert menu was handed over in a daze and so we both took recommendations. After the richness of my main, the tart au citron was ideal to cleanse the palate. Sharp and sweet, it had a little soggy bottom, but after the duck, I could forgive almost anything.
The husband went for something more unusual the tort au chocolats et banana. This didn’t appeal to me personally, but when it came, it looked delicious.
A rich dark chocolate, banana and praline tort, served with salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. The sauce seemed overkill to me, but the husband happily worked his way through it, and the banana remained surprisingly firm and fruity in the cake. I love the salted caramel ice cream as an accompaniment, even though this made my head spin when I tried to consider the calories.
The service was spot on. Everyone was friendly, but professional, happily offered advice and recommendations for both wine, food and pairings.
Value for Money:
It astounds me that this is a chain in a shopping centre. The quality of the food is excellent, the attention to detail and service is great (though please can we get Orangina back in stock) and the prices easily compete with local venues.
I’ve been to a lot of venues in the Trafford Centre. This one far outstrips them all. So far, anyway.
137 The Orient
Intu Trafford Centre
Tel: 0161 747 1927