Le Rouge provides the French cuisine; you add your own romance


WHAT: Le Rouge Restaurant & Piano Bar (nee Moulin Rouge)

WHERE: 317 Main St.

HOURS: 5–10 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Open for lunch seasonally.

CONTACT: 257-1777, http://www.lerougepianobar.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s column is written by Tess Furey and Hannah Soderborg, a Fruita Monument High School student and summer intern at The Daily Sentinel.

Dim lights cast a glow on the faces around you as you devour scrumptious food served by a waiter whose voice drips with “oui” and “vous.”

Rich tapestry drapes frame the wide doorways that separate the tables and the bar.

The wine list placed on the white linen tablecloth reads like a novel and your pockets seem to deflate just looking at the most expensive wine, a $1,200 bottle of 1975 Chateau Beychevelle.

The mood at Le Rouge is filled with romance.

Though you can dine to the nines, Le Rouge also has a thrifty prix fixe option that allows you to order a two-course meal for $22. And the wine options include those from chef and owner John Barbier’s own vineyard for about $7 a glass or $14 for a half carafe.

Barbier, a native of Loire Valley in French wine country, offers the best authentic French cuisine in town. Frog legs, escargot, duck and creme brulee dot the menu and tease the taste buds.

In Palisade, Barbier operates Maison La Belle Vie vineyard and Amy’s Courtyard, a garden setting for parties and weddings. He caters events at Amy’s, named after his daughter.

On Thursdays, a busy night at Le Rouge, Barbier sets up a crepe stand on the sidewalk for the throngs strolling through the American National Bank Downtown Farmers Market.

First course was a choice of salad or soup. The salad was an unremarkable but good quality m&233;lange of mixed spring greens with carrots and cucumber curls and classic French vinaigrette (not too little, not too much).

The soup, cream of mushroom, was light years from ordinary. Earthy, wild and creamy would begin to describe the minced porcini, morel and chanterelle stew.

Entr&233;e choices for prix fixe are either meat or fish. On the night we dined, our waiter, Frenchy (no kidding), told us the chef’s choice was salmon or duck.

Hannah deferred and let me have the fowl — half a dozen medallions of medium-rare duck confit with pomegranate sauce, summer vegetables and potato galette. Tr&233;s bonnes.

The wild salmon was served with a balsamic vinaigrette reduction and veggies. It was cooked perfectly, a little crispy on the outside and deliciously pink on the inside.

We left Le Rouge with a warm glow.

On Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 7:30, Le Rouge shows off one of its best attractions, the salon-style piano bar.

A husband and wife duo plays piano and bass on most weekends, although the musicians vary. Overstuffed easy chairs, live jazz and someone to bring you Chambord. Pencil me in.

On the menu:

Prix Fixe dinner: Two courses, $22; three courses, $29. Available from 5–7 p.m.

Assiette de fromage and charcuterie (selection of European cheeses and cured meats), $10.

Escargot de Bourgogne, $9.

Frog legs with lemon garlic parsley butter, $10.

Steam mussels mariniere, $16.

Bouillabaisse in saffron tomato broth, $20.

Kobe beef hamburger, $15.

Foie gras crustini, $18.

Creme brulee of the day, $7.

Chocolate terrine with layered white chocolate and marzipan, $7.

FIND THIS FISH FRESH: Jerry Sica at Wild West Steaks and Seafood, near the corner of 24 and Patterson roads, brings in 100 pounds of fresh fish from Hawaii every other week.

The shipments usually include mahi-mahi, ono, swordfish and ahi and yellow-fin tuna. He cuts the whole fish into steaks and fillets and makes poke.

Information: 257-1557 or http://www.cross roadwineandspirits.com.

QUOTE: “How can you expect to govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six kinds of cheese?” — Charles de Gaulle

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