The Reverend Eats … Café Rouge in Hay’s Galleria
It was a Sunday Afternoon in that London. Although it was raining there were no complaints from anyone due to the long bought of hot weather we were experiencing recently. The streets were still packed with tourists but a lot of Londoners were staying at home to enjoy the cooler air.
I was out by London Bridge station and it was just after lunch. Although London Bridge station has lots of offices opposite it with various restaurants, most shut at the weekend due to there being less foot-fall.
One of the few places open was Café Rouge. This is situated in Hay’s Galleria that is just opposite the London Bridge Station. The added bonus for me is that they had recently emailed me about 25% off all food and the voucher was valid Sunday to Thursday. You can check out their offers here. It has indoor seating and outdoor seating. In this weather you’d expect people to go for indoor seating however the outdoor seating sections is still under the roof of the Galleria so you aren’t exposed to the elements.
We didn’t have to wait long before a waiter arrived and let us choose our own table. We found a nice table for 2 that allowed some great people watching while we discussed what we fancied to eat.
A place like Café Rouge was always going to be French-themed for the menu. They have also recently added a couple of new items to it which were tempting. A number of the starters came with a baguette and some main meal offerings were baguettes with chicken, steak, sausage or veg/halloumi. There is something for everyone here and the online menu has filters for veggie and vegan.
This starts the only negative of this review. We both spent some time looking over the menu before deciding on what we wanted for lunch. We also decided what we wanted to drink. We ordered the drinks first and this was when we were told the Mocktails were not available. We weren’t told before we ordered, only after we ordered the French Garden Fizz. Not the best start. I then ordered a Coke. None of this, either. They THEN explained that the soda dispenser was broken and they only had water, or items from bottles – the fruit juices or Orangina. We settled with 2 apple juices.
We then ordered our starters. The starters were breaded camembert and also the Artisan Flatbread – A L’ail. It was at this point we were told the flatbread wasn’t available! I swapped to the Breaded Camembert and we then risked ordering our main courses. For our main dishes we did ask if there was anything not available but were told that everything was! What luck! We tried one of the new dishes – Crepe aux Champignons – and because I enjoy the half-chicken at Cote Brasserie I decided to have their Demi Poulet. Finally I also ordered a side of Halloumi fries as I wanted to try them.
The Breaded Camembert arrived quite quickly. The pleasant surprise was that there were 3 pieces of camembert and not 2. They were individual ‘rounds’ rather than the ‘wedges’ you often get when you order breaded camembert. The price was nearly £7 which I thought was pushing the max anyone would pay for a starter. They did offer a king prawn starter that was around the £7.50 mark that I nearly ordered but was very worried I’d have 2 prawns and a plate of disappointment. Although £7 for the camembert was top whack I’d pay for it, my 25% voucher meant that it was only going to be just over a fiver – a much more reasonable price. There was a cranberry and redcurrant sauce which helped cut through the cheeseyness that oozed out when you sliced into the camembert. We both recommend the breaded Camembert if you are visiting a Café Rouge.
Our starters were cleared away and the main courses brought to the table. The baked crepe looked very mushroomy and the demi poulet just didn’t look as good as the one from Coté Brasserie.
The crepe, I am informed, was very nice and filling. Sometimes you worry that you will be short-changed on crepe fillings but the mushrooms, leek and cheese were plentiful. The crepe can be ordered with salad or fries and it was very much a ‘fries’ kind of day. Café Rouge also sprinkles what looks like paprika on their fries. It wasn’t hot enough to give them a ‘kick’ but did add another flavour to the meal.
The Demi Poulet just didn’t hit the mark for me. It look like it had been roasted within an inch of its life. The meat was dry and I guess the mini-saucepan of ‘Thyme Jus’ was there to help moisten the chicken. Unfortunately the taste of the jus was just lacking overall. The chicken was supposed to be marinated but if you weren’t eating the skin, then you didn’t get any other flavour except chicken. Usually this wouldn’t be a bad thing but I really wanted something to wow me and this dish didn’t.
The Halloumi fries were ok. They were large-ish in size perfect to share however I’d not order them as a side dish to go with a main-course. The harissa mayo was lovely and I think this side dish would work so much better as a starter option, rather than a side to accompany a main dish.
We passed on the offer of dessert and asked for the bill. They accepted the 25% voucher with no problems.
2 starters, 2 main courses (plus a side of halloumi fries), 2 pots of tea and 2 apple juices came to £48 including a tip. I’m glad I had the 25% voucher as it meant that we paid just over £10 each for our main-courses. The Crepe was worth the full price but I didn’t feel like the chicken was. The drink price remained the same but I’d have thought with the limited drinks menu on offer, they might have offered a discount on the drinks.
The Reverend’s Final Thought of Café Rouge
£44 without tip is probably reasonable. £5 each for starters, £10 each for mains and £4 for some extra halloumi fries. Leaves about £10 left for drinks – two teas and two apple juice. Without the 25% off voucher I would have felt it was over-priced. I do look out for vouchers when eating out in London as it can save £10+ on a meal for 2 (which it did in this instance).
I hope you’ve enjoyed my review. Any questions, ask them in the comments below.