Sunday, April 25, 2010

Going Rouge

Your humble schlub has been on a mission for several years to sample as much of the NYC restaurant scene as possible.

So, on Thursday, when an opportunity arose to try out the Michelin starred Rouge Tomate he jumped on it.

How was it?


For pure taste alone, I would not have given it a star. (And if it hadn't been a business lunch, I'm sure that I would have been annoyed at the prices.) However, I didn't quite realize it at the time, but its mission is also to be healthy, nutritious and locally sourced. And in this sense, it might be better than I originally thought.

I had the Alaskan halibut on top of a bed of artichokes, cranberry beans and arugula pistou. The fish was quite good. It was well cooked and tasty.  The vegetables underneath it? Not so much. (Mushy and distinctly lacking in flavor. But what are you going to do? If you want something to taste good, you have to spend the calories.)

My dining partner had an octopus salad, on a bed of tabouleh with baby bok choy and fruit. Which was also good -- but hardly life changing. (It could hardly compare with the octopus that you'd get in Astoria at, say, Stamatis.)

And the cookie plate that we had for dessert... well, they tasted like the kind of fruity, soft "nature" cookies that my mother would buy me when I was a kid (as a healthy alternative to Chips A'hoy) which I couldn't stand. The less said about those cookies probably the better.

But, it's strange: When I heard that the restaurant was dedicated to nutrition and sustainability, I must admit that I added a few points in my mind. There is apparently a nutritionist on staff -- which I think is actually pretty cool. (Aside from the fact that I've been on a diet for the past three months, I just watched my first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution the other night -- which is a great show. And which made me truly ashamed of how fat we are in America.)

Is all this enough to give them a Michelin star? No, probably not. But it's something. Oh, and I admit that I liked the dining room quite a bit. (Very Zen.)

So schlubs with an expense account or a trust fund that are trying to eat right: Worth a trip. (Especially if you're trying to impress some hot do-gooder.) Everybody else? Probably best to stick with Stamatis.