Last night, I ate dinner at Rouge Tomate, a restaurant in Manhattan that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It’s way more uptown – both in price and location – than places I’d typically eat, but my father, who resides in the lesser city of Chicago, was in town and likes to eat around the city while he’s here. Rouge Tomate focuses on local and seasonal food, and uses the S.P.E. approach towards nutrition. Butter and cream (probably two of the most heavily-used ingredients in a restaurant kitchen) are absent from all preparations of food, and as someone who hates heavy sauces and flavors that take away from the actual ingredients of adish, this was right up my alley. Everything was superb. I started with a drink called a Spiked Cucumber, which was vodka, cucumber, dill, and lemon juice. Delicious and refreshing. Whole grain and sourdough bread was brought to the table with a wonderfully smooth dip made simply of pureed broccoli, olive oil, and salt. It reminded my father of baby food, and while I felt a little like I was eating out of a Gerber jar, too, I loved it. (Sorry for the crappy image quality below. All I had was my iphone and very low lighting. Hey, that broccoli puree does look like green baby poo, doesn’t it?)
Spiked cucumber, broccoli dip.
For appetizers, we had the hummus (skip it), I had the octopus panzanella (absolutely out of this world delicious, I would go back just for this dish), and my dad had the sardines (very good, complex and interesting tastes). For my entree I had the scallops at the recommendation of the waitress. They were divine, from the texture to the accompanying mushrooms and onion, but the real star of the dish was the lemon vinaigrette. I don’t know how they made it, but it was like eating the most delicious lemon right off of a lemon tree, if that would ever be at all appetizing. My father had the duck sous vide, which he said was one of the best dishes he’s had in a while (I don’t eat meat, so I cannot attest, but the duck is one of the restaurant’s most popular and written-about dishes). After all this food and a bottle of wine I was satisfied, but not as grossly full as I would’ve felt at a comparable restaurant without such an emphasis on nutrition. I finished off with a warm praline tart, grapes, concord grape sorbet, and hazelnuts. It was delicious, but if there’s one place I like my butter, it’s in my desserts. Over all, Rouge Tomate definitely tickled my fancy. It was worth the trip uptown, and I’m confident that dining partners with a wide range of palates would enjoy it just as much.
You know what did NOT tickle my fancy last night? I’ll tell you what. I hate taking cabs. Just hate it. There’s something about getting into a car with a stranger whose driving abilities you know nothing about and trusting them to drive you somewhere that gives me major anxiety. I was ready to walk to the train after dinner, but it started raining and my father convinced me to take a cab with him to his hotel and continue on to Brooklyn. As the rain got harder, I gave in. So, we got into a cab and told the driver the two stops and he started huffing and puffing when he heard Brooklyn. “See, dad? I told you taking cabs SUCKS.” Seriously, cab drivers – what is your deal?? I live in Carroll Gardens, and I’m sure you’ll find a fare outside of Clover Club that wants to get back to Manhattan. And also, it’s your job. I’m going to pay you for it, and I’m probably going to leave you a good tip too, just for not kidnapping/killing me. So, needless to say, after a little back and forth between the cab driver, me and my father, there was no way I was letting this guy drive me into Brooklyn and I hopped out at 42nd street and walked to the train. I love the subway. It’s out of the rain, bright enough for me to read, and isn’t going to give me an attitude about going into Brooklyn.
Before I got out of the cab, I took all of the driver’s information down. I’m going to try to make a little trouble for him, because that’s exactly what he did for me. Yellow cabs, you do not tickle my fancy.