Go Fork Yourself: La Rouge, Cabinteely
Cabinteely has never really been a bustling hive of activity, or even on my radar in terms of a spot for casual dining. But somewhere along the line this out-of-the-way village underwent a bit of a dining revival. Suddenly three or four highly desirable eateries all set up shop along the mainstreet, bringing Cabinteely more and more into passing conversations with other foodies. And recurring at the heart of which, were recommendations to try La Rouge.
So, upon receipt of an invitation to join the La Rouge crew for a spot of dinner, we headed out to the sleepy town on what seemed to be possibly the only summer day in May. A mystical 18 degrees of sunshine was slowly dipping away behind the hills as we rolled up, leaving the air with the nice warmth of a holiday stroll.
On entering La Rouge you’re met with the boudoir dark atmosphere of rich red velvet, dark purple walls and gold gilted picture and mirror frames. Moulin La Rouge. Minus the cheap entreés! Our service was attentive and friendly seating us under a giant mirror with all manner of specials scrawled in decorative hand across it. We were plated up some rustic loaf and a balsamic/olive oil dip to keep us busy while we perused the menu.
I went for the Halloumi with Sweet Potato crisp, herself the Tartiflette; a dish of layered potatoes, smoked bacon lardons and reblochon cheese. To say I was chuffed with mine would be an understatement. It’s really tough to get good halloumi in Dublin. It’s either too salty, too over-cooked and squeaky or too bland. This was spot on. Breaded and served with finely sliced and roasted sweet potato crisps on a bed of salad with a honey dressing was a brilliant explosion of taste. The Potato Tartiflette was a little disappointing however. Lots of potato with very little of the advertised lardons and a general lack of seasoning.
Our mains arrived shortly after; Slow Cooked Beef Cheek Bourginon and a 28 day aged 10oz Sirloin. The Beef Cheek was hearty and tender, served with pearl onions, very fresh al dente carrots and a tasty bourginon with a good dash of red wine. Accompanied with a creamy mash it was definitely the feed of a winter warmer despite the scorcher outside! The steak was cooked medium well and delivered on texture but sadly a few fatty pockets let it down. The bed of battered onions were a nice compliment but the overall flavour was a little let down again on seasoning. Served with some expert Potato Dauphinoise; the side definitely shone from it’s miniature steel pot.
We were feeling pretty full at that point so took a breather and a much-needed wine time-out. We opted for two glasses of the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (€7.65 a glass) which was blackcurranty with a medium body. The wine selection was decent with around six reds being offered by the glass and a further seven or so options by the bottle with a good choice of price range.
Boldly, I ordered the Créme Brulee and shortbread for dessert, herself passed on sweets. People say you should never meet your hero. And truth be told I should never order Créme Brulee. It may be the simplest of desserts but it is my absolute favourite. I will always lean towards it. I’ve had coconut, pineapple and even mango Créme Brulees so when I’m served a middle of the road Brulee, I’m left feeling as cold as the custard beneath. However, this Brulee delivered. The shortbread accompanying it may have been a little dry, but the Brulee itself was the perfect texture, taste and consistency with a great sugary shell.
Pricewise, the early bird menu is great value at €23 for three courses and a selection hardly pared back in any way. Definitely not beyond the reach of the price-conscious diner. In summary, La Rouge is a definite rising star on the way to big things. Trip out to Cabinteely for it now because soon squeezing in a reservation will become a problem.