We had a nice dinner at newly opened Cafe Rouge in downtown Sanford on a recent Friday evening. It was about 8 PM. We were in Sanford for the "fourth Friday" Art Walk, a monthly occurence where the art galleries are open late and have special exhibits, demonstrations, and, of course, a few liquid libations as well as some munchies. Since my friend Tommy is an artist and has some of his works exhibited at Art Affair Gallery as well as the restaurant Three Blondes and a Shrimp, we like to attend. It's always a lot of fun. You get to meet various artist as well as lots of art lovers. So, we decided this would be the perfect evening to have dinner at Cafe Rouge.
They've only been opened about five weeks now and are located in the former Quizno's location. The don't even have a sign up yet, but are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most every day of the week. They have a nice menu and I'd say the prices are reasonable. It's a family run business, so you can know that attention is paid to details. I noticed a baby in a swing and a young sibling, as well as the mother (I presume) taking care of the child in between waiting on customers and bussing tables. I like to see a place where the family is involved.
For an appetizer we ordered the Olive Oil Baked Garlic and Chili Shrimp. Five Shrimp had been cooked on a skewer and were placed in a lake of olive oil (very tasty olive oil!) and had some chili sauce placed over them. It was served with a baguette for dipping in the oil. Personally, I'd have liked a bit more of the chili flavoring, it was very good--there just could have been more. The shrimp were cooked fine, perhaps just a tad over-cooked but certainly not to the point of rubbery. The olive oil was grand. Overall, I liked this appetizer a lot and would have absolutely loved it if it had (1) a bit more of the chili sauce and (2) either more baguette or less olive oil. But a successful dish, no doubt!
In due time our soup and salad arrive. My friend Tommy had the French Onion Soup. I had a sip and it was good. It has an interesting flavor. I was glad to see that it was not overly salted. I'm not exactly sure what the flavor was, perhaps a bit of red wine, but it was less beefy than I expected. Yet was good. Tommy liked it and ate it all. He did comment about the large bowl that it was served in, it made the portion seem smaller than it was. It was topped by a few slices of baguette that were covered with some cheese and toasted. Nothing overy fancy or special. But at any rate, it was good eats.
My side salad was quite good. The first thing I noticed is that it was visually appealing--it just looked good. A bed of mixed greens had some diced sweet onion mixed in and a few grape/cherry tomato halves decorate the top. The house balsamic viniagrette was very nice, and it was not overly dressed, a pet peeve of mine. It was nice, light and refreshing, everything a salad should be--a nice prelude to the main course. It was a good salad, definitely.
In due time our main courses arrived. Tommy ordered the Baguette Rouge chargrilled Rib-eye sandwich, sliced ribeye served on a baguette and dressed with a tarragon mayonnaise. It was very good. You could taste the tarragon in the dressing, which accented the meat itself. It was served with a side of french fries which were served fresh and piping hot as they should be. Good fried, nothing to out of the ordinary, but cooked well and served well. Tommy enjoyed it enough to eat the whole thing. And I had a bite and agree, it was good eats.
For my entree, though I was sorely tempted to order the traditional English-style beer-battered fish and chips, I eventually succumbed to the lure of the Creamy Chicken and Bacon Fettuccine--and I'm glad I was, it was very good. The best part and the most surprising part was that there were bits of sun-dried tomatoes in here. That gave it a unique and exceedingly pleasant flavor. All of the elements of this dish went well with each other. The fettucine was cooked right, and the dish itself was served piping hot--though I did notice that the chicken itself was a little bit less hot, though still plenty warm enough. It was a good dish and was finished with both some shredded and some shaved parmesan, a nice touch.
We enjoyed our meal at Cafe Rouge and I'd certainly come here again. It's a welcome addition to downtown Sanford. With the recent closing of Angelos Pizzeria and Italian restaurant, Colonial Room's scaling back of dinnertime hours, and Stone's Throw Bistro's closing during lunchtime, hopefully Cafe Rouge can fill the gap for Sanford diners. Downtown Sanford has lots of great places to eat, and Cafe Rouge is one of them. Good Eats, for sure!