Words Charlotte Johnstone
Café Rouge always conjures nostalgic memories for me. I would go there for hot chocolates with all the trimmings on Saturdays with my grandparents. It was always cosy, welcoming and elegant.
Dulwich Village is no different. Café Rouge still has that relaxed brasserie-style feel we know it best for. There’s the warm greeting, classically French à la carte menu and temperate background music. All still present.
With a new menu to celebrate spring, it’s time to revisit the old red café. On first study I’m surprised to see no lamb; but perhaps they were overcome with choices for their new set menu. A busy Mother’s Day means they have run out of a couple of choices such as the mackerel rillettes and the moules. I go for the terrine de jambon to start, a ham hock pea and mustard terrine with a shallot and raisin chutney. It comes with chargrilled rye and caraway bread and a garnish of watercress. It is light and fresh, presented nicely.
Mains is a tarte de printemps. A homemade shortcrust pastry tart with shallots, goats’ cheese, sundried tomatoes and watercress. It is like a quiche and arrives with the house salad. I enjoy it’s comforting element and rich flavour. It goes well with the wine I am recommended – a snappy little picpoul from Languedoc-Roussillon.
But the highlight is the pudding. I see lemon posset on the menu and go for it straight away. Other items include the torte au Chocolat, with vanilla crème fraiche. The posset is a good choice. A creamy yet piquant dessert with a moreish finish.
Café Rouge might not be the first thing you think of when choosing where to go for an evening meal. But it certainly offers that familiar element with relaxed and friendly service. I’ll be back soon for that hot chocolate with all the trimmings.
The spring set menu offers two courses for £12.95 and desserts for an extra £3.
Café Rouge, 96-98 Dulwich Village, SE21; 020 8693 9316