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I am done with Cafe Rouge (Berkeley)

The last three times I have dined at Cafe Rouge, I have been served food that was left sitting out for far too long. Nobody likes cold french fries. I don't know if the problem is an unfocused kitchen or an apathetic wait staff. What's particularly maddening is that the food has good flavors; it would taste great if only it arrived at the table hot. Once, or even twice, I can call an aberration. But three times in a row is inexcusable. So I am done with Cafe Rouge. Eat there at your own risk.

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  1. Or buy an onglet or bavette or a chicken at their meat market and cook it yourself. I have only eaten at CR twice, both times at least 4 years ago, and both times I was tres underwhelmed. I do, however, frequent their meat market and find it a great source for unusual steaks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: oakjoan

      I also find the meat market heck a lot more interesting than their dinner menu; I've stopped suggesting the restaurant to friends. The happy hour bar ,with dollar oyster, is still a deal.

    2. My food has always arrived hot, but my last visit was two months ago.

      Lunch or dinner? Did you have different servers? How long ago was the first of those three visits?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Dinner all three times. Different servers all three times. Different days of the week: two weekdays, one weekend. I'm certain the last time was a kitchen snafu, because the side of greens arrived piping hot, whereas the two entrees were stone-cold. The first visit was about 6 months ago, the most recent one was last Friday.

        The tables on both sides of us had plates of steaming food, so I would guess that many people eat there without issue.

      2. I ate there only once 2 years ago and I found the service and food to be desired for - I decided not to go back. We just had brunch at Eccolo - very good food.

        1. cold french fries. suggestion friagra

          1. I've experienced the plate of cold fries there as well - for a place that seems to style themselves in the French bistro vein, you'd think they'd at least get the frites right! And my pork chop, while hot, was also verging on dry - if I'd wanted a dry pork chop, I could've trekked over to my local Safeway and pick up some cheap thin-cut chops to incinerate on my own....

            1 Reply
            1. re: Spatlese

              Eaten there four or five times...service was disinterested at best and food uninspired...great location, though...sorry Marsha...

            2. We went the other night and had one of our best meals there ever. Standouts were a Grafton cheddar soufflé appetizer, a main course of goat three ways—roast shoulder, grilled chop, and merguez—with a Moroccan-spiced eggplant and chickpea salad, and an intense huckleberry pot de creme. Drank a delicious 2003 Joguet Les Varennes du Grand Clos Chinon. Only flub was that some breadsticks that came with one salad were undercooked so the thicker parts weren't crunchy all the way through.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                We've been going there since they've opened. When it's good, it's very good; when it's not, it's horrible.

                We call the place either "Café Rude" (for the inconsistent service) or "Café Meat" (when it's good).

                I must say, that our last few meals there have been less than stellar - slow service and lukewarm food.

                We haven't been back in months.

                Very well-thought out wine list though.....

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Darn! We were there last week for the first time - I passed on the souffle and ended up with the pasta with brussel sprouts and bacon - it was completely tasteless and based on that I doubt I would bother going back. Well, maybe once for the souffle!

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    My goat three ways would have been excellent had it not arrived at the table lukewarm.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      We pick up steaks and sausages from the excellent meat market, but have also stopped going to the restaurant, for dinner anyway, after several weird visits. Service was not good.

                      1. re: tete_de_fromage

                        IMHO...and I've only beeen cooking professionally for 38 years, Cafe Rouge is one of the most overrated restaurants in the Bay Area. Over the last 6-8 years I've had three dinners and three lunches...where is the flavor, the care, the attention to detail and the love?

                        1. re: jungleboy

                          Haven't been to the cafe in quite some time due to my own laziness and lack of time.

                          I have gotten consistently great pork chops from the meat market. In fact I'm planning a simple holiday meal around the brined chops and Alice Waters' gratinee of Brussel Sprouts.

                          I also ate baby back ribs at their Jazz festival booth. They were tender with a fine, dusky, non-sweet bbq sauce. The staff at the booth were very gracious and helpful as I bought six orders.

                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                            When/where was the jazz festival? How did I miss it!?

                            1. re: chemchef

                              4th St. seems to be completely incapable of advertising their own events. I missed the jazz festival this year, and I visit 4th st at least once a week.

                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                Same here. That makes me feel better, but sorry that you missed it as well.


                                Guess the best thing 4th St's got going for it is Sketch. (Oh yeah, and Tacubaya and Betty's).

                              2. re: chemchef

                                I think it was in June sometime. My mother was sick and I had to relieve my sister as caregiver that day. I only had time to get the food and go.

                                Cafe Rouge also had a grilled chicken sandwich, which didn't do anything for me, but the ribs were as usual scrumptious. In the past Eccolo had a bollito, but this year they served Niman Ranch sliders. Sugar Pie Desanto and the BHS bands performed.

                                Another 4th St event that you probably missed was a vintage car show a month or so ago. I arrived late, but it appeared that Cafe Rouge didn't set up. Eccolo had the sliders again though.