lunch at cafe rouge- berkeley (kind of long)
i found myself on fourth street and hungry yesterday afternoon so a friend and i (craving red meat) wandered into cafe rouge around 2:45.
the house was pretty much cleared out with only 2 tables besides ours indoors and 1 or 2 shaded outside under the red umbrellas. the inside is a lovely italian-y rubbed yellow with red fortuni (sp) type lamps and scones and a cement floor. the tables are topped with white cloths and butcher paper and the long curving bar is zinc. the back of the house hides a quite proper tho small butcher shop filled with beautiful meats and pates which is open to the pasta shop next door. (and what fun that is!)
we started off with a large bottle of pelligrino and a lovely salad of julienned salami, escarole, cranberry beans and radicchio in a light and simple red wine vin. the beans were cooked exactly right, creamy and soft to the palate.
for main courses we shared a coiled lamb sausage on a grilled flatbread and a burger. the lamb sausage was quite small in diameter altho there was plenty of both flavor and substance to go around. it was served with dijon mustard and a little side salad of micro greens and mint. we tore off pieces of the flatbread, stuffed a little sausage inside, topped it with the greens and were good to go.
the burger, oh! the burger! on a seedless hefty kaiser roll this piece of meat reached the eer sought after rating of nirvana. the meat had obviously just been ground and had been formed with loving hands. it was thick and browned on the outside while the interior's ruby juices screamed out medium rare, medium rare! with a leaf of butter lettuce and a slice of perfectly ripe tomato this ended my search for the perfect burger.
unfortuntely the fries weren't all they could have been. they came to the table lukewarm and needing another few minutes in the frybasket. but with a burger that good who should notice?
we tried to trick ourselves into not having desert by saying we'd "just have a look" at a menu, but we did a poor job of even that and ended up ordering the plum cake, peach pie with vanilla ice cream and 2 lattes.
both of the desserts were perfect for the season, the plum cake recipe having just been the focus of an issue of fine cooking recently. the plum was at it's peak, the cake light and airy, soaking up enuf of the plum's flavor to be moist but not so much as to be soggy.
the peach pie came to the table room temp with vanilla flecked ice cream on the side as requested. on it's own the heavily turned pie was nothing to write home about, but in combination with the custardy ice cream it was summer.
we waddled out about an hour and a half later, happy, happy carnivores. meat from the butcher safely stashed beneath our arms.
lunch for two including beverage, tax and tip came to $65