Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5. FOOD: 5 / 5. VALUE: 4 / 5. AMBIANCE: 4.5 / 5
The food at Rouge is, in a word: stunning. The dishes lived up to my high expectations of the place bestowed by S. Pellegrino as one of the world’s best 100 restaurants in 2010. The setting: the historic Cross House in Inglewood just minutes from downtown.
This was my last Lunch Rush column for Metro Calgary before I moved to London, so I decided to splash out. Funnily enough, it was actually cheaper than lesser restaurants I’ve dined at. Why didn’t I eat here every week?
I started with the seasonal soup creation, a roasted cauliflower and yellow zucchini with scallion oil ($10). The soup was comforting and gourmet. At $10 bucks a pop, it’d better be good, and believe me (cheap-ass that I am), it was well worth the price.
Jason had the couscous salad with almonds and cranberries, with a side salad of shaved fennel and orange vinaigrette ($10). The light citrus flavour lent a refreshing tone. I particularly enjoyed the crunchy toasted almonds and the fennel salad accompaniment.
The main entrée was a seared halibut in seasonal mushroom broth ($20). The halibut featured a light crust and was perfectly moist and tender. The broth was delicate yet flavourful. The style is reminiscent of Japanese cuisine — subtly complex and clean yet obviously well-crafted.
Service: While the service was professional, formal and knowledgable, it tapered off as a large group arrived, which unfortunately meant we ran out of time for dessert. This, after I closed the menu, put it halfway off the edge of the table and played the game where I tried to catch the server’s eye. Then we had to ask for the bill and rush out of the restaurant. It was a somewhat disappointing end to an otherwise lovely meal.
Last Impressions: The subtlety of flavours and textures makes the dishes impeccable. There is an emphasis on local ingredients, with many picked fresh from Rouge’s large onsite garden. This is fine dining, but it’s not overbearing, as in dishes are not just laden with truffle oil.
For the quality of food and service you receive, the value is excellent, especially when you consider how many restaurants with similar price points can’t even come close to measuring up.
Just minutes from downtown, with ample parking and a gorgeous patio in the summertime, visiting Rouge is an absolute must.
Rouge, 1240 8 Avenue S.E., Calgary, Alberta. Phone: 403-531-2767
Hours of operation: Lunch: Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 2:00 pm. Dinner: Monday to Saturday 5:00 pm to Close
Price range (for lunch): ($16 to $20)
Low: ($16 Croque Madame)
High: ($20 Seared Halibut)
Is this restaurant appropriate for:
Client negotiations: Yes
Lunch with co-workers: Yes
Social lunch: Yes
Quick solo lunch: No
Time in: 12:30 p.m.
Time out: 1:40 p.m.