I’ve said it loads, and even written a blog about it; blogging is one of the friendliest communities around. Maybe it is just because the Essex bloggers are a particular breed. Bubbly and fun and chatty. Helpful. Will always share some info or tips with other bloggers as well as hilarious stories and gossip.
So when I got invited to Café Rouge in Loughton with some of the Essex Blogger girls, there was no way I was going to say no. I actually did the unthinkable. I cleared the calendar for that day. I put aside my busy schedule of tweeting, looking at the cat and getting sunburnt and even fatter at the outdoor pool of the gym and got a lift with the lovely Nicki Kinickie.
Upon arrival, the first thing that impressed me wasn’t Café Rouge itself, but Loughton in general. I’m sure you get your good and bad bits everywhere (although I can confirm that Basildon is 100 percent truly and utterly diabolical), but Loughton high street really did seem nice. I’ve only ever visited Loughton once. I was sent on a training course for first aid in the back and beyond. Myself and my colleague had no other than a sat nav, a map, the directions off of Google maps and written directions, and we still managed to get lost. We spent the drizzly lunch break looking round what I call a ‘shit shop’, somewhere that sells everything from novelty ashtrays to bird feeder balls to mops. We then went back and I spent the afternoon getting looks from the rest of the group for exclaiming quite loudly ‘OH LOOK THERES A CAT’.
So as you can imagine, my first foray into the area of Loughton tainted my view of it.
Café Rouge itself is nestled at the end of the high street, opposite Luxe nightclub. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an incredibly friendly host, who sat us at the big table in the middle. What Café Rouge lacks in space, it makes up for in intimate, warming French décor and rustic atmosphere.
When we sat down, it was no more than ten minutes later we were tucking into a selection of olives, pickles and bread and most importantly: good wine. I am by no means a wine connoisseur. I will just as happily tuck into a glass of £2.99 ‘RED WINE’ from Nisa’s bargain bin as I will a nice Malbec. But if it’s nice, it’s nice, simple as (just to let you know I’m not slating Nisa but the £2.99 bargain bin wine definitely is NOT nice and if you want to keep all of your organs intact I would recommend chucking on another couple of quid for some Hardy’s).
The first wine I chose from the wine menu was the ‘Cuvee La Maison rouge’, which was very light and bouncy and made a change from a lot of red wines that are called ‘full bodied’ and are actually heavy and make you have a headache all afternoon. Also, if a wine before my meal is too heavy I tend to get too tipsy to actually eat the meal, and am usually at drunk, lairy, think I am hilarious stage after two.
The menu for Café Rouge is so varied. The menu really is absolutely, authentically French. Imagine a guy, coming up to you in a beret and telling you he is a struggling artist living in Paris who loves brie. Well, Café Rouge’s menu is more French than that. There is so much choice, Poulet Breton, Confit De Canard, Moules etc etc. The thing is, as we were out for lunch I didn’t want to go for anything too heavy, so I opted for a Croque Monsieur and Frites. If there is one thing France do excellently, it’s a Croque Monsieur. I often come across people who say ‘Yeah, I’ve had one of them, it’s just basically a toastie isn’t it?’ These people, sadly, have obviously never had an authentic, French Croque Monsieur.
Mine was delightful in texture. The ham was, really good, and the whole thing was topped with Gruyere cheese and grilled just the right in-between of being crispy and being fluffy underneath the surface. I also like the French take on chips. When we do chips here in the UK, it’s almost you actually want one large enough to beat an intruder with should they break through your back door while you are watching Emmerdale on evening. As much as I like potato, I don’t think these type of chips have either any flavour or any appealing texture. Actual French fries not only are splendidly crisp, but they also seem to get a lot more flavour than their thicker cousins. They are also almost ALWAYS very rigid, yes you will rarely get a floppy French fry (I’ll leave that to your imagination).
So after all the good food and gossip, I decided I would now give another wine a try. I do like a red with lunch (Champagne and Prosecco to me are more of an evening drink. Not that I’m fussy), so I tried the Saint Etalon Merlot. I do like a Merlot in general, and I must say this is one of the best I have had. It was a bit more smooth and heavy than the first one, but they were both as nice as each other in different ways.
There were also many other little things that made up the lovely day. For a start, it was lovely to spend the whole afternoon talking blogging, with people who had exactly the same interest as me. Secondly, I loved the décor. The posters and pictures of old starlets in the 50s were nice, but what tipped it off for me was the giant picture of the first ever Vogue September issue. Sorry Café Rouge, but I nearly stole that one!
If you want to go for a nice, authentic French dinner in a lovely, intimate setting, then I would genuinely recommend Café Rouge in Loughton.
If you want to read further, why not check out all the other lovely Essex bloggers blogs?