Situated between bustling Central Park South and swanky Madison Avenue is the Michelin-starred restaurant, Rouge Tomate. Featuring modern American cuisine with a twist, Rouge Tomate boasts local and seasonal fare with the highest nutritional value. The evolving seasonal menu is collaboratively prepared by chefs and knowledgeable dieticians with the goal of maintaining the nutritional integrity of the food. They follow an approach known as S.P.E., which, in Latin, stands for: “Sanitas Per Escam,” meaning Health through Food. From the zen-inspired space to the freshness and quality of the meal, Rouge Tomate aims to bring environmental sensitivity to every meal while satisfying patrons with their high-caliber service and cuisine.
As we love to participate in Restaurant Week to sample new spots on our short list, we decided Rouge Tomate was a must. It was on the agenda for far too long, and as it is a consistent Restaurant Week participant, we planned ahead and made our reservation, knowing well this notable establishment would put their best foot forward.
2+2 united on the streets of the Upper East Side. We entered the two-story interior and were truly “wowed” but the beautiful ambiance. We were greeted with smiles and quickly taken to our “cubicle” that overlooked the entire restaurant, including the subterranean level with illuminated pools. It was truly the best seat in the house!
We began with a round of cocktails before participating in the wine-pairing with our 3-course meal. Like the food menu, the beverage list is filled with cocktails featuring seasonal fresh juices and accoutrements, as well as biodynamic and local estate wines.
Before choosing our courses, we sampled some of the tasty seasonal toasts. While both selections were quite delectable, we highly preferred the Wild Mushroom with the delicious fresh Cow’s Milk Ricotta with touches of leek and thyme. Impressed with our preview, our palettes were excited for the coming dishes. Immediately following, we savored the amuse-bouche, a fresh squash soup with pumpkin seed, pumpkin oil, and chives. It certainly whet our appetites even more and we were thoroughly excited for the main event!
While the 3 of us started off with the Parsnip Soup, L took his usual route on the road less traveled and selected the Arctic Char Crudo. Our soup was outrageously delicious, but of course we had to try out L’s appetizer. Thank goodness for sharing! As for our entrée, we each got something a little different (well, the boys both went with the pasta) so the sharing could continue and we could truly get an overview of all that Rouge Tomate had to offer. A was thoroughly impressed with her chicken… the flavors were fresh and pronounced. It’s hard to find a chicken dish that makes a statement, and the Moroccan-inspired flavors surely did the trick. K savored every bite of her Hake. Plated with various consistencies from the herb crust to the bed of caramelized onions and puréed turnips, each bite was better than the next. While the girls were fully enjoying their selections, the boys were a bit hesitant.
While A+K were boasting about the freshness of their meals, the boys felt a bit of the opposite. When we sampled their Spaghetti alla Chitarra with chunks of lobster and sea urchin, we all agreed that there was a strong fishiness that is uncharacteristic of fresh seafood. We tried to chalk it up to the idea that this was a product of the mass produced Restaurant Week menu, and with all of the other options being so flavorful and fresh, we decided it wasn’t a true representation of Rouge Tomate’s best.
Ending with some unbelievable desserts helped our palettes remember the finest ingredients that Rouge Tomate strives to put forth. We ordered two of the flourless chocolate cake and two of the passionfruit pudding to share among the four of us and to top off our experience. The components were creative, crisp, and interesting….the sour cherry, hazelnut, and aleppo pepper brought out the richness of the chocolate. The passion fruit pudding was complemented by other tropical goodies like pineapple, mango, coconut, and cilantro. Yum!
Overall, we were impressed with our evening at Rouge Tomate. The service was more than hospitable. The ambiance was all-emcompassing. So many of our dishes were unique, fresh, and flavorful. Our cocktails were inventive and the wine selections creative. We certainly want to make a second visit to sample the full menu. The current menu has many new seasonal selections that sound simply wonderful.
In addition, Rouge Tomate has a food cart in the park, located on 64th and 5th Avenue. They serve up fresh sandwiches, burgers, soups, and homemade ice cream. They also offer a great “Lunch Box” option for $11, which includes a sandwich, soup, and a drink. It’s a steal! Such great snacks to take into Central Park and picnic! We can’t wait to get over there!
What we ate…
- The Ruby Red [Resposado tequila, Ruby Red Grapefruit, luxardo bitters, sage, club soda] (A)
- Lambrusco [2011 IGT Lambrusco Rosso Emilia, Lini 910] (K)
- The Jasmine [House-made jasmine infused gin, apple juice, lemon juice, fresh muddled jalapeño] (L +M)
- Wine Pairing (2+2)
- Chef’s Selection of Seasonal Toasts (2 + 2)
- Parsnip Soup [Apple, Hazelnut, Prosciutto, Chive Olive Oil] (A+K+M)
- Arctic Char Crudo [HorseradishYogurt, Trout Roe, Dill, Pumpernickel] (L)
- Amish Country Chicken [Fregola, Moroccan Spices, Medjool Date, Apple, Marcona Almond, Beldi Olive] (A)
- Herb Crusted Atlantic Hake [Caramelized Onion, Baby Turnip, Yogurt Gribiche, Red Cabbage-RieslingVinaigrette] (K)
- Spaghetti alla Chitarra [Maine Lobster, Preserved Jersey Tomato, Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Basil] (L + M)
- Flourless Chocolate Cake [Banana, Sour Cherry, Hazelnut, Aleppo Pepper] (2+2)
- Passion Fruit Pudding [Pineapple, Mango, Coconut, Cilantro] (2+2)
A: I loved the variety of flavors offered on the tasting menu! From Parsnip soup to a Moroccan inspired chicken… everything was delicious! Plus the service was top notch. We adored our table overlooking the restaurant from our perfect birds-eye vantage point.
K: I love the mission and philosophy of Rouge Tomate. I’d love to try their newest menu items. The cocktails were super creative and the new menu has some tasty looking selections. I’ll surely be trying out the Cart in the Park!
L: Some of the best service we have had in a while. The food was very good even though some of the dishes slightly missed the mark. I would love to go back just to hang at the bar.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Chic, lively restaurant meets zen-inspired oasis.
- Food/Drinks- 3.5: Pleasantly Stellar.
- Tip Worthy- 4: Double the tax and then some!
- Coordinates- 4: Neighborhood – Centrally located.
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green! We must sample the new seasonal selections!