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Review of Leatherby's Cafe Rouge in Segerstrom Hall

(first ever review by this chowhound newbie, be nice)

This new restaurant is located in the newly opened Segerstrom Hall which is right next to the OCPAC in Costa Mesa. Cafe Rouge is a part of the Patina family of restaurants. From what I understand, the Cafe Rouge has only been opened for 2 weeks. We decided to have our pre-theatre dinner there last weekend. For all you theatre-goers, Cafe Rouge has their own valet service right in front of Segerstrom Hall for the same $8 fee as the garaged parking. It was nice just to hop in your car as soon as the show ended. Now on with the food.....

Since we had made early reservations, we decided to go with the 5 course tasting menu (they recommend two hours for service).
The decor itself is very elegant yet comfortable at the same time. The best tables are the ones next to the glass wall facing the OCPAC where you have a nice view of the courtyard and of the people arriving. Sound level was nice.....not too loud, not too quiet.

Service was a little naieve and unpolished overall, but they get a thumbs up for effort and friendliness. Granted its only been a few weeks since their mock dinners, I am sure it will be a matter of time.

Our tasting menu started with a sea urchin brule over tile fish.
To me, it was an interesting combination since I was not used to eating my uni warm with a brule crust. Nice style points though.

Our next item was halibut with butternut squash confit, crispy ham and orange cream. Nice combination of taste and texture...really enjoyed the confit.

Next item was duck breast with dried fruits. Perfectly cooked...juicy and delicious.

Next item was a combo of Japanese and American cuts of beef including a slice of Kobe beef.. nice contrast of two completely types of beef, both cooked medium rare/rare, very good.

Finished with a dessert of several types of creme brulee/cream with a few tea cookies...simple and light, nice way to end a meal.

Wine list is fairly limited and on the pricey side...not too many good choices under $100. Have not had the chance to sample the other menu items but probably will by the end of the season.
There is a a definite asian influence to the menu with a nice balance of entrees.

Dinner for 4 with 2 bottles of Vino came to about $500 inc tip.

Overall, Cafe Rouge fits nicely in the array of restaurants surrounding the the OCPAC complex. It will definitely be a nice addition of our pre-theatre selections along with Mastros and Chat Noir. For such a new restaurant, I though they did an admirable job and we came away happy and content, ready to enjoy our show which we did. Time will tell but I will be back.

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  1. That's a great first review! I can't wait to try it once we figure out the first thing we want to see at Segerstrom Hall.

    1. Interesting...you've made me very very curious about the place. Thanks for the review.


      1. S. Irene gave it a bigs thumbs up today in the LA Times too. Welcome to Chowhound!

        1. thanks for the tip.
          Irene did give quite a positive review.
          Interesting how the opening chef is already gone.....
          wonder if the menu will stay the same ? will be back in Dec to find out....

          1. For my money and time, Chat Noir can't be beat for the Pre-Theater menu. http://www.culinaryadventures.com/res... $40 per person for champagne, their awesome Parmesan-Garlic Potato Chips, Escargots, Short Ribs, and Creme Brulee makes for quite an evening. Of course we always add another glass of wine, or two, or cocktails...

            Great for Pops or Broadway shows, but don't try eating and drinking this much before a slow symphony or it will be good night...

            1. We had yet another outstanding meal last weekend at Rouge Cafe.
              Due to time constraints and wanting to try out other items on the menu, we decided to skip the tasting menu this time.

              We sat at a window facing table again which are definitely the best seats. One thing I wanted to mention that although the dining room is fairly modest in size, even with a full room, the noise level was never a factor and you almost felt like it was like your own grand little dining room.

              Service was excellent again where the staff is truly attentive and friendly. Though we were waited on several different persons, part of the great dining experience I felt was due to how well they worked together as a team.

              For starters, we had the toro which is off the menu, a dish of roasted pork with melon, and a simple yet delicious green salad. The toro was amazing and I especially enjoyed tasting the nice contrast of slighty salty, crispy roasted pork with the luscious, cool and sweet melon.

              For entrees, we had the New York strip steak which one thought was better than Mastros across the street, the venison wrapped with bacon, and the roasted chicken with asparagus and black truffle vinaigrete. All the courses were very tasty and perfectly cooked with the portions just right.

              Dessert was sorbet and another dish shared with coffee and some port wine. We also had 2 bottles of decent vino.

              Dinner for 4 plus tip was about $400.00

              This has been my 3rd visit to Rouge Cafe in recent months and they have made a believer out of me. Can't wait to go back.
              Highly Recommended.

              1. The sound is superb at both the new Segerstrom and the Samueli, in addition. Both are beautiful venues. I have listened to Mozart and Prokofieff and John Pizzarelli and am proud that Orange County has such people as the Segerstroms who have been a driving force in putting such performing venues on the map.

                1 Reply
                1. re: EclecticEater

                  EE, I totally agree. We've been to other venues after enjoying our concerts at the new Segerstrom Hall and we are spoiled.
                  It is nice to finally have such world class venues in our backyard.

                2. Check out the review of Leatherby's Cafe Rouge in the LA Times. S. Irene Virbila gave it 3 stars ! Cafe Rouge has become a staple for us before every show which led me to put them on my top 5 restaurants list in OC for 2006. I am glad Mark Gold is getting the recognition he deserves.

                  1. We passed by the restaurant many times on our way to the Family concerts at Renee & Henry Sergerstrom Hall and just wrote it off as our previous experiences with Patina Group restaurants (Pinot Provence, Patina, Hollywood Bowl) weren't that memorable.

                    Guess we will have to try it as the reviews seemed fairly positive. BTW, they are not open for lunch Saturdays and Sundays and they are closed Mondays. The hours noted in the LA Times column and Patina website are wrong.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: notmartha

                      We had dinner at Cafe Rouge on Tuesday night, it was awful. I ordered the New York steak "pink" and it was served gray. My wife ordered the salmon and it was so overcooked and salty it was impossible to eat. We waited 25 minutes between the salad and the main course and there was only one other table occupied in the whole restaurant. The lack of customers indicates to me that people are having the same kind of horrible experiences there that is becoming aplace to avoid. The good thing is we don't ever have to go there again.

                      1. re: donaldkeys

                        I hear that the reason everything suffered was because the chef picked up and left to start his own restaurant. But supposedly I'm hearing that the new chef, 25-year old Lauren De Rouen just hired is really good. Has anyone been there lately and can give us a review?