My past career as a professional student didn’t allow for much beyond ramen noodles and Kraft Dinner, so an award winning restaurant like Rouge was always out of the question. However, when I found out that there was a wine and food event at Bistro Rouge, a less formal dining venue, I told my friend Peaches that it was on like donkey kong.
As the restaurant is billed as a bistro, I was expecting the space to be small and cozy. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to enter through a series of spacious, elegantly designed rooms. The dinner was held in the appropriately named Garden Room. Gaze up toward the twenty feet ceilings, and you’ll see why. A floating green hedge suspends in mid-air. I foresee many wedding parties in Bistro Rouge’s future.
The manager of Bistro Rouge, Troy, introduced himself and discussed the restaurant’s concept, food philosophy and the differences from Rouge, such as the simpler cooking process. If I could take the liberty of paraphrasing Troy, I think Bistro Rouge is more inclusive to the public rather than exclusive, which is just fine for this average Jane.
The first wine of the night – Zinck Pinot Blanc (France), was a creamy white wine with a sweet after finish. I enjoyed it so much, I ordered 4 bottles from the evening’s wine source, Pratts Fine Wines and Spirits. We learned the wine was selected because it paired well with the creaminess of the Mushroom and Garlic Veloute. Served with a tiny spoon filled with minced chives, the soup was smooth, rich and garlicky. The soup base is made from cornstarch, which is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet. Diners can custom blend the base from a selection of ingredients, such as beets, garlic or cheese.
The second dish was a salad – Tender Beets with Apple, Dill and Crème Fraiche. I like the addition of fresh herbs, peashoots and dill. The presentation of salad was esthetically pleasing – dots of sauce were decorated around the beets. We were informed the wine was paired with the salad because the rosé or a red went with the sweetness of the beets. As we sipped on rosé from Wine by Joe (USA), we learned about wine maker – Joe – and his high quality, value priced wines.
The third course was Risotto with Mushrooms, Butternut Squash and Parmigiano Reggiano. The portions at Bistro Rouge were huge – not that I’m complaining as everything was delicious. The risotto was creamy, the mushrooms were earthy, and the argula gave it a lightness. This dish was paired with Esser Cellars Pinot Noir (USA), a wine recommended best to pair with food versus drinking on its own.
Next up was the Rosti Poutine Gateau with Bacon, paired with with Alexandre Sirech “Les Deux Terriors” (France). We were informed us this was an unusual wine, as it was smoky from the merlot and fruity from the syrah. A fellow diner remarked the poutine gateau looked like a taco. She was right, albeit, an elegant potato taco. The inside of the gateau was soft and gummy, reminding me a bit of a potato latke. However, the outside was a tad too brown. The pool of gravy was rich and softened the extra crispy exterior of the potato cake. I like the addition of the strip of bacon and use of fresh dill.
By this time, everyone at the table was pleasantly full. However, when the Roasted Pork Loin with Scallop Potato, Roasted Garlic and Blue Cheese Crumble arrived at the table, I suddenly found room. This dish was a crowd pleaser. The pork was cooked perfectly – it was flavourful and tender. I love eating the meat with tiny bursts of blue cheese. Everyone at the table raved about the scallop potato – it was really well done. The potatoes were firm yet tender and covered in a creamy sauce.
For dessert, we received Salted Caramel Sticky Bread Pudding with a glass of sherry, Alvear Pedro Ximinez Solera 1927 (Spain). We learned about the history of the winery and the fermentation process to make sherry while we sipped on the sweet liquid. Peaches handed me her glass, as she rarely drinks. Hey, I’ll do anything to help out a friend in need! One guest commented he thought the caramel sauce made this dessert truly unique. I only had one bite because I wanted to bring it back home for L. He loves bread pudding, and he found this version particularly awesome. He love the crunch of the toffee and thought the bread pudding had the perfect amount of sweetness.
At the end of the meal, one of the owners, Olivier Reynaud, dropped by to say hello. We learned that the owners did everything with the the exception of the actual construction of the building. We also met the chefs that prepared our meals, Doug (roasted pork loin); Morgan (bread pudding) and Tara (risotto).