Rouge Tomate NYC – restaurant review

This is the last post of my June 2009 NYC trip recaps. I’d love to say that I saved the best for last, but unfortunately despite this dinner at Rouge Tomate being at the top of my to-do list for the trip (I was SO excited for it) at the risk of “spoiling the end” I have to say it turned out to be a big disappointment.  But let’s rewind a little…

Rouge Tomate’s philosophy is truly what I’m all about – healthy, delicious, well balanced, environmentally friendly food + modern setting and beautiful presentation.  I hate that going out to restaurants most likely means an artery clogging meal, unless I really restrict myself and try to “be good” in which case that kind of kills half the fun of being out. This place had great potential though.  I’ve been dying to try it out for months and the only thing prevented me from doing so is that fact that I don’t (unfortunately) live in New York! Here is a little blurb about the restaurant from their website:

Rouge Tomate provides a harmonious alignment of balanced cuisine, well-being, and social and environmental consciousness. This nutritional approach demonstrates a genuine respect for the integrity of ingredients used in crafting balanced, healthful and flavorful dishes.  The Rouge Tomate lifestyle supports sustainable elements and business practices while offering an optimal balance of nutritional dishes and S.P.E.® compliant menus without sacrificing flavor, sophistication or a fun dining experience.

Now let’s get to dinner! When we walked in, I was pleasantly surprised by the decor. It was clean, modern and the fruit and grass not only looked cool but really were quite fitting as decoration for a healthy restaurant.

Rouge tomate hostess stand

Rouge Tomate decorative wall

We sat down and ordered some cocktails. I rarely order cocktails but I figured since the dinner was a little lower in calories, I could splurge a little on a fun drink. Plus, it was the beginning of a fun weekend in NY, and what better way to start a holiday weekend than with a cocktail in hand? 😉 Oh yeah, what you see here is the rhubarb crisp: ten cane rum, fresh rhubarb, lemon vanilla, prosecco. As all rum cocktails, this one was delicious! I love me some rum :)

Rhubarb crisp cocktail

(On the left is my sister’s gin and soda, and on the right is Adam’s bitter orange cocktail… all three of us enjoyed our drinks!)

After ordering our meals, this crusty bread with fennel/pine nuts spread arrived. The bread was warm and hearty, but I think it was actually stale (it was warm because it was toasted, not because it was freshly made). The dip was ok. Not good, not terrible. I guess I’m not much of a fennel fan so that could have something to do with it.

ww bread + fennel/pine nut spread

And then we got a complementary “shot” of pureed split pea soup. I love complementary things at restaurants… I think they make the whole experience extra fancy, but I did not like this either. Basically this tasted like scallion juice (note the scallions on top for “decoration”) and I think most of us here know by now my extreme hatred for anything onion and onion-related. 😀

sweet pea soup shot

So far, so… bad? It’s ok, I still had my yummy cocktail and lovely company. No sweat :) And now we uncover the mystery from this post. This stunning looking dish is the tombo tuna poke with sugar snap peas, honshimeji mushrooms, jicama, sesame.

Tombo tuna poke

closeup of the tuna app

I absolutely LOVE these bright colors! In fact, just looking at this picture makes me a little happier :) How did it taste? At first I loved it. The tuna was very fresh (definitely sushi quality) and I loved all the different textures and flavors of the crunchy veggies and exotic mushrooms. The sesame oil made it also very Asian, something I wasn’t originally expecting but definitely welcomed. But as I was eating it, it got salty. Like really, really salty. I couldn’t stop chugging water. Why would a healthy restaurant make a sodium laden dish? Hmm. Let’s talk about Adam’s sauteed Atlantic calamari with fava beans, chickpeas, brown garlic, and paprika instead. I have one word for it: bland. :( I guess that’s all I got.

Sauteed Atlantic calamari

For our entrees, my sister and I both wanted to try the Long Island duck in sous vide with mustard greens, potato roesti, baby turnips and apricot mostarda. I remembered this dish mentioned in many restaurant reviews of Rouge Tomate and even our hostess mentioned it while we were waiting to be seated. Oh, speaking of waiting to be seated… we made reservations for 10pm on Friday night (prime dinner time in NY!) and we were the only table at the restaurant!!!! It was just plain weird. This place is big too, so we were a little (ok a lot) put off by this fact. You’d think New Yorkers would be all about a fancy shmancy healthy restaurant, but I guess that’s not the case. Oh yeah, they also played musac. ‘Nuff said…. back to our entrees :)

RI duck in sous vide

I really loved this dish! The duck was nice and lean (with just a tiny bit of fat on the side for extra flavor), the sauce was delicious (nice and sweet) and the best part was the potato roesti (as they call it). Here is a closeup of this baby. Nice and crispy. Yum! :)

closeup of the potato roesti

I should mention that Adam said I could make duck better than that, that the sauce was nauseating, and that the potato roesti was the only good part about this entree. I loved it and found it hard to stop at just eating half since Inna and I decided to split our entrees (she let me pick at it later). This brings me to the second entree I tried – the hazelnut crusted Maine halibut with cucumber, jicama, radish and soba noodles.

hazelnut crusted Maine halibut

The soba noodles were hiding under the fish. Sneaky little noodles 😆

soba noodles

Um, yeah – this cucumber mixture was gross!! It was super bitter and the cucumber juice soaked into the soba noodles and made them bitter too. After a tiny bite, I couldn’t eat it. The fish was perfectly cooked but was nothing special. Again, I think I could have made a better tasting fish. The hazelnuts on top were kind of fun though :) Oh and Adam got the lamb which he said overall wasn’t bad. I don’t know if that’s something the chef would want to hear. I don’t eat lamb so I can’t describe it better than that. We’ll go with “not bad.”

More complementary stuff! This time it was some kind of sorbet (ginger? fennel?) to cleanse our palates. Inna, do you remember what flavor it was? Unfortunately once again all three of us hated it. After a taste, we all put it away and got busy checking out the dessert menu. That’s my favorite part of a meal, so I was really excited!

complimentary sorbet

We (kind of) shared 3 desserts, although not surprisingly I concentrated on the chocolate & cherry: chocolate pudding cake, cherry, feulletine, pistachio gelato

chocolate & cherry dessert

One thing I will say for sure – the presentation of everything was stunning! Here is the chocolate cake closeup. I think it was more of a mousse cake than a pudding cake. I love mousse cake and this one was fantastic! Was it really healthy? I think they “healthified it” by making it smaller. It definitely tasted super rich and decadent.

closeup of the chocolate pudding cake

And it went perfectly with lots of fresh cherries (topped with some kind of fancy foam that just looked pretty, but I don’t think did much taste-wise) and pistachio gelato. I really did love my dessert and probably could have eaten 3 of them if no one was judging! :mrgreen:

closeup of the cherries

We also got the honey roasted apricot buttermilk-lemon shortcake with strawberries and toasted almond milk sorbet. I’m not going to lie, the chocolate dessert stole my attention and I was not interested in this one. I had a taste, but found it to be nothing special so I concentrated on what I really wanted :)

Honey roasted apricot shortcake

Lastly the assorted cookie plate for 1 completed our dessert sampling. I tried tiny bites of each cookie and was not impressed. I didn’t taste that shot either.

assorted cookie plate

cookies closeup

Overall I’m saddened to say that I would not recommend Rouge Tomate. Maybe I had too high of expectations, but let’s say the place was not cheap (a huge understatement!) and too many dishes were “off” or nearly uneadible. If I went by myself and only tasted my dishes, I actually would probably be quite satisfied. My appetizer was too salty, but overall was quite interesting and fresh… and I’m possibly too salt-sensitive lately (I’ve been told). I also loved my entree and my dessert of choice but I can’t ignore that sampled everyone’s else’s selections and was not impressed. I still think that New York (and Boston – yes, Boston please!!!) needs a fancy healthy restaurant. I KNOW it’s possible. We all make healthy delicious dishes and I want someone to prove to the world with a 5 star restaurant that healthy is not tasteless or bland… healthy is fresh and satisfying. Maybe this should be Barbara Lynch’s next addition to the Fort Point project. She seems to know her stuff :)

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11 comments to Rouge Tomate NYC – restaurant review

  • Too bad it was such a mixed result. That tuna sounds great. At least everything looked pretty. :-)
    I’d probably like the tuna. I oversalt everything. A habit I need to toss.

  • sister inna

    that sorbet was supposed to be grapefruit. but it (again) tasted like fennel/ licorice eeeeeekkkkk
    i think their entire menu was “infused” with fennel juice lol
    nice to have you back btw :)

  • K

    Sorry all the food was hit or miss! It all LOOKS good – so colorful!!

  • I’m so sorry that it didn’t live up to your expectations — that is the worst!!

  • good to know- it’s been on my list of places to try! Have you been to Josie’s? Or Candle? Both also on my list and have heard rave reviews about Candle!

  • dang- its so “Top Chef” looking! lol. that just shows how classy I am. I think Red Robin is a nice restaurant

  • Insideiamdancing, I’ve never been to either of those places and they both look great! I think I’ve seen Josie’s before but didn’t realize what they were about. I’m going to add it to my NY list for our next visit. Thanks! :)

  • Oh NO I’m so disappointed to hear Rouge Tomate didn’t impress you! It’s been on my to-try list for so long and I desperately wanted it to be mind-blowing. Hmm. I might have to bump it to the bottom. :( It certainly all LOOKED pretty so for the blog’s sake, it does not disappoint. 😀

  • cece

    I’ve been to Rouge Tomate many times and it never disappoints. This blogger is not a professional critic and opinions should be used for entertainment purposes only. You can look up other reviews and find many positive ones as well.

  • Elina

    Cece, I agree with you – I am not a professional food critic and these are just my opinions, and opinions of my family (who came with me). I read many great reviews, but personally would not go back. Thank you for your comment.

  • […] credit: HealthyandSane.com who did a wonderful review on the restaurant.  Please check their site out […]

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