Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Rouge
Forest Hills, NY
718-793-5514

Review by Diana DeRiggs

It had been a long day. It was my birthday, but there were meetings to attend, places to go, obligations to fulfill. I'd eaten in two restaurants already, and I should have just wanted to stay at home.

Nah!

So we went out, and looked among the restaurant offerings in the 'hood. Chinese ... Japanese... Mexican ... American ... Diner ... Irish ... Indian ... nope, nope, nope. What I was craving was French (maybe it's all that talk of the French on the news these days), but there hasn't been a semi-decent French restaurant here since La Crêpe decamped in the 1980s. We thought we'd look and if nothing appealed, we'd get in the car and look elsewhere.

Sad to report, by the way, that Foraga -- that wonderful Thai/Italian place -- has closed it's doors. But in it's place in the bright red storefront is Rouge (hey, that's "red" in French!), a French-style bistro! What a coincidence! Looking at the menu showed a rather standard menu of bistro fare, so we figured we'd take a look. Must be providence that I wanted French, and here it was, right? Gotta go!

The interior is red too, and more or less completely made over from Foraga's term in the same store. The banquette is in the same place, and the bathrooms are still clean and narrow. The wall between the little smokey bar/lounge and the restaurant is down now, and the uncomfortable entrance to the dining room is not there anymore, thank goodness. And everything is RED inside! Not a festive red ... more of a sexy, sinister red. Very attractive.

Nice wine idea -- in addition to offering wine by the glass and the bottle, they have a 'Rouge Wine Flight' of whites or reds (one or the other, no mixing) where two ounces apiece of four different wines are given to you. This way, you can sample, then order the one you like later. But if you're a lightweight sipper, this is your very nice wine for the night. We had the red: Morgon, Jean Descombes; Merlot, Rémy Pannier; St. Emilion, Domaine Gourdins; Côtes du Rhone, J. Vidal-Fleury. I liked the St. Emilion.

To start, we ordered the charcuterie platter, and the pâté au campagne. The former was served on a cold marble slab, which kept it all nicely chilled. There was brie, gruyère, cheddar, slices of a nice grainy pâté, and cornichons. The bread was served with sweet butter and very nice olives. We sucked all the flesh off the pits in an embarassing manner.

We ordered the braised lamb shank, and the steak frites, which was a hanger steak, sliced nicely. The food was rich, in the way French food can be, but entirely appropriate. It was really lovely, just what we expected. The frites were French, rather than American ... er, not French fries ... but they were French ...

Dessert was coffee, which they brewed very nicely, and a fruit tarte. French fruit tartes don't have all that custard and glazing jelly that Italian tartes tend to have. I like these better. Loved the pastry!

The service was a bit sloppy and slow, but very friendly and helpful. We assume it's opening jitters, and they'll get better. We like it, and will patronize it often! Even while we mourn Foraga.

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