The menu’s promising, but the food ain’t so rosy. Rouge Winebar, Norwalk (SoNo)

15 Dec

I think that the title says it all, but I feel that I have to defend myself here.  First of all, Rouge Winebar is a quiet and comfy place with beautiful brick walls and striking wooden floors.   They really set the tone when you enter as you see a lovely rack of wine bottles, inviting you in.  The bar is also impressive, especially the rouge light setting a halo around the liquor.  The menu, also, really impressed us.  Their philosophy is small plates and, look, we’re all for that.  It was really difficult to center in on just a few dishes, but we picked a select few that would awaken our tastebuds.

To start the party, we invited over a 2006 Marietta Zinfandel that was aged in French oak.  Quite a classy gal with a nice finish.  It’s no party with just one guest, so I asked the Greek Salad to join our table  He was smothered in a vinaigrette, and had some kalmata olives, cucumbers, red onion, peppers, and a dash of oregano.    The salad was good and certainly lived up to expectations.  Enough with the cheesy talk, let’s just get down to business.  We also ordered the Potato and Chorizo Croquette, covered in a garlic aioli.  Kristien wasn’t a fan, but I thought it was pretty good.  My main problem with the dish and many of the others here at Rouge is the lack of seasoning-or in some cases like the beef carpaccio, too much.  The croquettes could have definitely benefited from a bit more spice and kick.

The dish that I was most looking forward to was the Coffee Dusted NY Strip Steak that was draped over manchego mashed potatoes.  Top the steak with some demi glaze and put some sweet and sour onions on the side and you’ve got the golden ticket, right?  Well, sorta.  The steak was cooked perfectly at medium rare and had really beautiful grill marks.  What this dish gained in presentation it lost in taste.  The onions and mashed potatoes seemed to have more spice and flavor than the steak itself which disappointed me quite a bit.  It was still a good dish, but it wasn’t an amazing dish that you beg your dining partner to taste.

Finally, Kristien is a lobster risotto fiend, so when she saw that on the menu, she knew what she had to do.  Again, when it arrived, we were excited and we began to drool at the presentation.  The herbs, sauce, and parmagiano all combined to add a wonderful taste to this dish, but it couldn’t make the overcooked rice taste better.  I was having intense flashbacks to Gordon Ramsay yelling at budding chefs  on Hell’s Kitchen and blasting out, “You overcooked the risotto,” only I had no food or things to throw around.  

If you compared Rouge Winebar with Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant, I don’t think you’d really need to think twice.  Scena was just as nice on the inside, was around the same price, but the food was much better.  Plus, to boot, they are pretty close by each other, Scena being in Darien.  You can certainly have an okay meal at Rouge Winebar, but at that price you probably want an awesome or excellent one.

Noms:  2.75

Cost:  $$$

Rouge Winebar
Address:  88 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854-3077
Phone:  (203) 354-4781

Rouge Winebar on Urbanspoon

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