Cafe Rouge

Cafe Rouge
1782 Fourth St
Berkeley, CA 94710

I’ve been to Café Rouge a few times now. We always seem to get out to Kermit Lynch late in the day and by the time we get out of there we’re starving. The café is always busy but we’ve always gotten a table. I’ve had a variety of dishes there. My favorite being the steak, it is incredible. The fries that come with it are perfectly crispy. But this time around I got something different

First, the Hog Island Manila clams. Clams used to be one of my favorite dishes. When I was pregnant with my son they were my most intense craving. Husband would come home and all I would say was, “Clams… now!” and we’d head out to dinner. Now, sometimes they are too, well, clammy for me unless they’re cooked perfectly in any good broth… and aren’t too big. These were the tiniest, cutest little clams ever! The broth was super salty (in a good way) with fennel, green garlic and just a hint of chili flakes.

After practically drinking the clam juice, the salad arrived. The Romaine was sweet and lightly dressed. It was topped with the most intense, crunchy, toasty, tiny little pumpkin seeds. They were more the size of sunflower seeds with a very concentrated flavor. Contrasted against these were creamy chunks of avocado and fresh, crunchy radish. They worked so well together. Crunchy, toasty, creamy, sweet. My whole tongue was happy.

The Salmon main was surrounded by baby red beets (my husband got to have all those, blech!!), spring onions, potatoes and beurre rouge. The salmon was cooked perfectly, in other words, undercooked as fish should be.

To drink with all this we had a 2007 Domaine Sylvain Bailly Sancerre. It was a bouquet of flowers in liquid form. Amazing! It would be perfect on the back deck on a hot summer day.

And for dessert, I had what I really think is one of the best dessert inventions in history: bonbons! Really dark chocolate. It was an excellently messy experience. Thought it odd that the server offered silverware for them though. Who uses silverware for bonbons?? Part of the joy is licking all the chocolate and ice cream off your fingers when you’re done!

We will be returning to Café Rouge again. The staff is always lovely and we always seem to have to pick up wine from Kermit Lynch anyway!