I'm not normally a fan of huge chain restaurants but I have to say, I really enjoyed my first experience of Cafe Rouge.
REALLY low lighting? Check.
Friendly, attentive staff? Check.
Candlelit table? Check.
Parisian themed but not OTT decor? Check.
French music playing in the background? Check.
For me, this is a very good start and believe it or not, it only got better. We ordered a bottle of the house red (around £15), which was lovely, then the starters came out shortly afterwards - a portion of Camembert, deepfried in breadcrumbs with cranberry and redcurrent sauce, on a bed of rocket, plus a portion of Champignons A L'ail (sautéed chestnut mushrooms in a cèpe & garlic cream sauce on toasted rye). Both of which were perfect, in terms of taste and texture.
For mains, I ordered the Steak Frites (8oz sirloin), cooked to medium-rare perfection with French fries and peppercorn sauce. My other half ordered the Confit de Canard (slow-cooked confit duck leg, spiced cherry jus, sugar snap peas and dauphinoise potatoes) which was also delicious.
Though not always seen as a good thing, the restaurant was pretty much empty but that meant that we weren't squished up next to other people (one of my restaurant pet hates) and the waiter was able to regularly ensure we had everything we needed.
Prices were reasonable, with the bill totting up at a modest £60. All in all, this was a pretty flawless experience. Yes, its a chain and yes, I'm sure it's probably a heaving nightmare on a weekend, but I'm pleased to say my first time was memorable for all the right reasons and possibly even a teensy bit romantic - ooh la la!
Oh, I so wanted to like Café Rouge. But here on Deansgate, a superbly central spot near many of the offices in Manchester and alongside a lot of shops and bars, the mediocre food was not worth the bad service I suffered. The voucher, however, was.
I was due to meet my friend for a Friday night catch-up, and I walked into the restaurant to a fairly busy atmosphere with a number of waiters looking slightly rushed. Not crazed, only slightly rushed, remember. I was stood there for around five minutes, several noticed me but walked straight past me. When I was finally attended to, I said I'd need a table for two as a friend was joining me but she was running late.
'We're fully booked,' the man with a French accent told me.
Impressive! A chain brasserie with a real French person... but then I had a horrible image of Café Rouge head office training where they give all their waiting staff French accent coaching. It wouldn't be too surprising. They all spoke with suspicious French accents.
'You're fully booked?' I repeated.
'Yes, fully booked tonight, nothing available.' Then he turned around and spotted an empty table. 'Oh, there is this table here though.'
Anyone else joining me in a massive What The Frick? Was this just rudeness? Did he not like the look of me, expect me to just walk out but then turn around and check because I repeated what he'd said? I was completely confused. I took the table, but took an instant dislike to my waiter, which was a shame, as I try to be as open-minded as possible. I was sat twiddling my thumbs for about fifteen minutes until I was presented with a menu, and an extra ten before I had a drinks one. Oh dear, oh dear... this wasn't looking good. When my friend did arrive with the prized coupon, I was relieved.
We got round to ordering, and she presented her voucher, a pretty good offer - two courses for £12. That meant that she and I could choose a main each from a select menu. Considering the course I wanted was £12.50, and on the select menu, that's a pretty good saving if you ask me. But our waiter seemed confused by this. 'No, we don't do that on Fridays.'
My friend is Estonian and far, far less Britishly reserved than me. 'It says here that it does. All participating restaurants, seven days a week. No time limits. Here.' She handed it to him, giving me an exasperated glare. I shrugged in response. Indeed the waiter took it away and brought it back saying it was fine, but I was starting to fear for my food. Did he really hate us or something? When we ordered my friend was about to ask a question but he'd already run off. Again, she looked exasperated and had to shout him over again.
My seafood casserole, while tasty enough, was very much padded out by bread as the dish itself wasn't too substantial. I didn't really know what was French about my companion's chicken and mash, which came with fries after she'd requested mash. Hmm. Puddings were super though, my tarte tatin was delicious as were her brownies. But without the coupons I won't be returning in a hurry. It's never a good thing when you feel like you're a thorn in the side of the waiting staff. Must try harder, Rouge.
Armed with 50% off vouchers, which are valid for the whole of January, my girlfriend and I headed to Café Rouge. It's not somewhere I'd usually choose to eat, with mains of around £12 that I could get for better value elsewhere or at independent restaurants.
However, 50% off all food was a good deal and one that we were certainly going to take advantage of! The restaurant, which has a French, Mediterranean feel, was pretty dead on a Sunday night, and I guess this explains the 50% off vouchers - January is a tough time for restaurants and bars.
To start we had some oily, garlic baguettes and some creamy mushrooms. Both were excellent and served quickly. For our main meal we both went for the seafood casserole, the same dish that Emma-Louise went for in her review. It tasted incredible, and I really enjoyed mopping up the creamy sauce with bread afterwards. I would agree that it wasn't the most substantial dish, but then we'd had starters so maybe we didn't notice as much.
The service was slightly slow all evening. Perhaps to the lack of customers made the waiting staff too relaxed?
After desert of delicious chocolate cake, we were both thoroughly satisfied. The two of us had three courses and drinks for just £30, which is a steal. I probably wouldn't go at full price as it's a bit out of my normal budget, but the discount really made it worth my while.
Cafe Rouge, as we all know is a chain selling very nice but extremely overpriced French food.
The decor in the restaurants is all very similar and if you found it in France; it would be considered a travesty. It has red and white gingham table clothes, warm orange lighting, cute little wooden tables and posters like the infamous "Chat Noir" on the walls.
Personally I like it; I fins Cafe Rouge very easy to chill out in compared to it's chain restuarant competitors.
This Cafe Rouge is of particular note because it is in possession of a particularly sexy French waiter who just loves to flirt!
He even kissed my hand last time I went and I nearly passed out as I was so consumed by joy. What is it about French men that all regard for what they actually look like goes out the window the minute they speak with that ridiculously alluring voice, hmmm?
I dunno, but it gets me everytime and this Cafe Rouge is worth a visit for that reason alone.
Lets be honest, there is nothing wrong with a family taking themselves out for a meal in Cafe Rouge rather than, say, Pizza Hut or Pizza Express. I know there are too many of them but this one on Deansgate used to be one of our regular places to go with my parents. Ok, we went to Starbucks too.
I liked the old style decor and French menu. I knew it wasn't authentic but then when I rave about 50s style wallpaper in some boutique or old clocks in a bar, it is exactly the same thing. They have been placed there to give that indie, quaint or alternative feel. They are designed like that, very precisely to give a shabby chic interior. Just as Cafe Rouge gives us Brits what we would like to think of as French.
It is slightly more expensive than the usual £6/ £7 fare but if you want something different to Italian chains, you'll probably like Cafe Rouge to get a little bite. Take some Sartre in to read and make the cliche so ridiculous that it becomes alternative? Cafe Rouge is pleasant enough especially if you're on a diet and are controlling portions or someone else (like your parents) are paying ...
I've never had a bad meal in France. Never. They know food. Expectations with Cafe Rouge, then, are always high.
I've been to quite a few - and they've never disappointed. The decor within is always quite similar. Be that as it may, it is this Deansgate branch which I've chosen to identify as my "pick of the bunch" - more so than any other branch they've effectively captured the French bistro feel.
As if a chunk of continental whimsy has been lifted by helicopter and dumped with surgical precision right in the centre of Deansgate - it looks - and feels - wonderful. I'm a self-confessed Francophile, and am very easily seduced by such charms - especially when they're coupled with the lingering tastes of espresso, full-bodied reds and rich, creamy meat dishes. Much to the embarrassment of my dining companions, when here I can't resist adopting at the very least a French lilt to my accent. It's no wonder I've not many friends.
I'll say this, though, it's not cheap. Ohhh, is it not cheap. One for special occassions, then - a night at the nearby Exchange Theatre, perhaps. I can't think of anything more desirable at the moment. That attendence must always be a special occasion surely only serves to...heighten its...wonder?
Brasserie style restaurants light meals and drinks with a certain je nais se pais. Cafe rouge is all about the French orientation and the name of the game is to have a relaxed experience. The staff I've had mixed experiences with ranging from the quick and efficient to the more negative sort of le roast beef attitude of the French.
Many of the staff are genuinely French actually, though I have wondered if as soon as they take off the aprons they revert back to harsh cockneys from south London or something. The food is often to a high standard with my vote going to the fresh baguettes. Reasonable prices, reasonable wine, pretty reasonable overall for that Saturday afternoon lunch.
Café Rouge is another of these places that represents a little Oasis of Europe in the middle of, well, Europe, but the shittier version that no-one cares about. It offers everything you would therefore expect: Gallic food, surly waiting staff, exotic accents. In that respect, it does quite well, but unfortunately certain aspects of it are not really necessary or desirable.
Like some of the other reviewers here, I have found some of the staff to be either overly snooty or monumentally stupid, making glaring gaffes about tables and food offers. Still, the food is pretty good, if expensive, so you could say it balances out.
Balances out, in fact, to a perfectly average three stars. Suck it up, Café Rouge.
I notice other yelpers have had some fairly bad experiences at Cafe Rouge but I have to say that I never have.. Every time I've been here it's been great.
I went for a Christmas meal with my course mates - there was roughly 20 of us and we were being pretty rowdy, ok we were just being plain loud but the staff didn't get annoyed or tell us to quiet down. They saw the funny side (and probably saw a huge potential profit from alcohol sales) and let us carry on. We even spoke french with one of the guys who took it very well.
The food really is second to none. The Onion Soup is lovely - the cheesy croutons in particular, the fried Camembert are gorgeous and the prawns in garlic, tomato and chilli are scrumptious. By way of mains, I would recommend the Poulet Bretonne which is chicken with leeks and mushrooms in a white wine sauce with herby mash - yum. All I have to say. A little taste of France..?
The Deansgate branch of the restaurant is very large and richly decorated. It's pleasant to sit outside and watch the world go by whilst drinking a glass of wine and it's equally enjoyable to cosy up inside - Cafe Rouge works for meals a deux as well as group outings and catch ups with friend. Don't be put off by reports of surly staff as I'm sure these occasions must be rare.
In Cafe Rouge (Red Cafe, that is) the outdoor seating reminds you of relaxed atmosphere of a provincial French tavern where you can drink your coffee to the sound of a hurdy-gurdy. Checkered chairs with wooden backs, neat round tables... Step inside - and you sink in the red-hot glow of a Parisian cabaret, or that cafe in Montmartre where a yet unknown poet composes his seminal verses.
There is a personal story attached to this particular Cafe Rouge. I had my Valentine's meal there in 2005, before which my companion and I went to see a play at the Library Theatre. We had a problem in our relationship, and, interestingly enough, the play was "The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard. The play was about love, (in)fidelity, trust, and forgiveness, and the entire meal turned into a conversation on those topics. We both were growing older, as well as growing apart, and since then Cafe Rouge, with its strikingly dark interior with bourlesque posters on the walls, has been the epitome of this romantic date turned into a heartfelt, intimate discussion about the future.
Since then I've only been to Cafe Rouge a few times for a coffee, but I have always liked the ambiguity of its interior and exterior. The "typically French" menu may be lacking the exclusivity of the now extinct Petit Blanc in King St, but this is perhaps what helped to sustain Cafe Rouge during the recession, while Le Petit Blanc had to close down.
Another great thing about all Cafe Rouge restaurants is their location. This is especially true for Deansgate's Cafe Rouge because there you do have the chance to transport yourself somewhere to the Continent, provided your imagination is good. And if you're happy to be staying in Manchester, then you may simply enjoy your cigarette and a glass of Merlot, while watching the busy street, busy people, and a line of impressive buildings on the opposite side of the road.
Last time i went to Cafe Rouge, i was with my housemate.
We were stood at the front waiting to be seated for a few minutes before anyone noticed us so just ended up sitting ourselves down. We had to ask at the bar to be served. Bearing in mind this was 4pm on a wednesday, and there were only 3 tables in the restaurant.
We had olives and humous to start, which came out quickly.
He had the baguette poulet and i had the poulet breton (they forgot my mash) which i had to ask for. The food took quite a while to come out but was nice when it arrived.
For dessert we shared the tarte au citron and the coupe rouge. Both were delicious and arrived quickly.
I would highly recommend the desserts and the coffees but the service does need a lot of improvement.
Good food, but the portions really need improving. The menu was pretty good, and the location is obviously quite convenient, but I found my steak a bit pricey and the serving size too small to make me interested in coming back anytime soon.
Service in this restaurant is not as good as the TC one. Still love the creme brulee
Whenever I'm in Manchester I also visit Cafe Rouge on Deansgate. The thing I love the most is the Laid back atmosphere, great French bistro style food and more importantly great value for money. The best dish is the Beef bourguignon with Dauphinoise Potato Mmmm!! I also like the fact that they always have a special offer running, like 2 courses with Wine for £12 and you can use High Street Vouchers there too which helps pay the bill !!! It may not be the best restaurant in Manchester but for me its one that I will go back to time after time. A great place for a casual meal with freinds after a hard days shopping.
I used to love Cafe Rouge but after my last experience I've had second thoughts. The service in this restaurant was terrible. We waited over an hour for our main course and when it arrived it didn't even taste very nice. We weren't even told why our meal was delayed. I have been to other Cafe Rouge restaurants and had a lovely meal so maybe this was a one off. I won't be going back to this particular one in a hurry though.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and comfortable, and the baguettes are highly recommended :)
Cafe Rouge is my favourite restaurant. Although it is a chain, each restaurant is individually styled and has a cozy, decidedly French feel. It seats a large number of people and is always busy - a good sign. The food is reasonably priced and always good quality. The staff are always friendly and efficient. Many of them are French, which adds to the atmosphere. The menu is lovely with loads of choice, and vegetarians are well catered-for. It is not expensive, particularly taking into account the quality. I have never been disappointed yet.
Went here for a drink on sat night 9th may 09. The bar service was quite slow but it was very busy with diners, we sat outside & enjoyed watching everyone go by, the atmosphere was great, the prices were average.
Its a chain and it is what it is...however the service is awful.
Un vrai plaisir de retrouver cela sur Manchester. une carte simple et efficace et surtout un bon rapport qualité prix. Le personnel est très très sympa, convivial et parle français.
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