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19 July 2017


in preparation for our trip to the south of france, ben and i headed to our local cafe rouge in dulwich to get a taste for the future. i'm obviously no stranger to the french bistro chain, but it was ben's first time, and i was more than up for showing him the ropes. we headed along on a super sunny monday evening, and sat out in the cafe's garden to soak up the last of the summer sun.

image by captain charley

we started with two giant gin blooms (two shots of beefeater gin with a signature flavoured tonic; £6.95), and perused the menu. the summer menu is live, and has a load of new summery dishes on it; two courses for £12.95 is a pretty great deal, no? between the two of us we decided to order from all over the menu, with dishes from the set and dishes from the a la carte menu each. from the set menu, ben chose the panier de champignons from the set menu, with sautéed chestnut mushrooms in a cépe and garlic sauce and served inside a fricken vol-au-vent. i mean... that's genius. i had the tian of crab and avocado (£7.75), which was layered with seasoned avocado, sustainable devon crab meat and coriander mayo. it was tastyyyyyyy!

the seasoned avocado was literally the tastiest thing i'd had in ages, while the crab was so fresh and creamy with the mayo. the fresh sourdough was slight overkill, as there wasn't enough meat to go around two slices (but i've since seen others have this dish with less bread, which would be perfect). it was so light and balanced, that it was the perfect starter really. ben's mushroom starter had his eyes roll back in his skull and very satisfying noises coming out of his mouth, which i take as a good sign. plus, he did a totally northern thing and stole my remaining piece of bread to mop up the sauce. so, i guess he liked his dish too.

for our mains, i went with a steak dish off the set menu while ben chose one of the a la carte steaky options. my 5oz minute rump came serves with frites and garlic butter, as did his 8oz rump (£19.95). we both chose a second sauce too, to keep things interesting; the beef dripping merlot gravy was rich and meaty, while ben's peppercorn was thick and creamy (£2 each). fun fact: my 'minute' steak was both minuet in size and minute as in time consumed, and i got to finish mine and then watch ben finish eating his...good thing i had some tasty green beans on the side to keep me going. cooking green veg in garlic butter is the stuff heaven is made of. more of that, please chefs.

oh, dessert. we never have enough room for you, but we always must try. the set menu doesn't call for dessert, but we did it anyway - a three quid surcharge is nothing when your meal is already so affordable, right? i went for the mixed berry parfait (because the toffee thing i wanted had sold out, darn yoooou!) while ben opted for the trio of desserts; the café gourmand (£8.25) came with an espresso on the side which is genuinely why i think he picked it. he love him a cawfee! the trio included a mini créme brúlée, mousse au chocolat, and a tarte au citron which was so citrussy that i made my face do a sour thing. he really liked it, and my parfait was delicious, so whatever.

soooo, the summer menu is live at all cafe rouges now until the foreseeable seasonal change, when the autumn one (that i loved a lotttttt last year) will kick back in. the set menus are so great and totally affordable, and - i can hand on heart proclaim that the food in this french chain is easily as good if not better than the actual french food in actual france. and trust me, i've been there too recently. *smug smirky face*

*thanks to cafe rouge in dulwich for having us. our meals were complimentary, but my complimentary words are all mine.

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