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Café Rouge
1782 Fourth St.
Berkeley, CA


This place is a meat market!

What kind of carnivorous barfly doesn't like a place with one stop shopping? Not me. When I found a café/butcher combo, I went over chop-chop.

It's Berkeley, so anything goes, but you won't see a lot of suits. Anywhere from jeans to business casual. The long inviting bar fills up quickly on weekend nights, The are outdoor tables that are popular for sunny lunches.


Charcuterie plate ($11.00):
Duck pate, mortadella and rabbit rillettes were listed on the menu. Rabbit rillettes?!?!! The waiter took one look at me and offered to sub out a double portion of one of the other options. I chose the pâté which was studded with pistachios. This was just ducky spread on the baguette croutons that came alongside. The mortadella was a delicate meat mosaic. I wished that they didn't repeat the pistachio in this meat tube to better contrast with the pâté. Gigantor capers, radish, cornichons, olives and hard feelings about the rabbit rounded out this dish.

Lentil soup ($6.50):
This tasty legume liquid did nothing to erase my shock over the rabbit on the menu. It was pretty tasty though. The cilantro and yogurt added a nice distraction from the "rabbit incident."

Grilled Seabass ($18.00):
Wrapped in a fig leaf, the bass was a little more cooked than I prefer, but it was still good. The anchioade toasts seemed more like onion confit toasts, but that might be because I was dwelling on the rillette debacle. I liked the grilled Belgian endive and figs.

They were really nice to me (after that horrible thing that we will not discuss) and let me order something that wasn't on the dinner menu. Their burger is divine. The top quality meat, the bun that soaks up the juices without disintegrating, but isn't so robust that it presses back at the meat when you take a bite. Ordered medium rare, arrived rare (which is okay by me.) This meat gob comes with lettuce, picked onions and little tubs of ketchup and Dijon. No tomatoes. I recollect getting tomatoes with burgers here in the past, so it could just be that they weren't prepped (since burgers weren't listed on the menu…yet, rabbit was. Hmmm.) The fries are crisp and tasty. A fine snack to forget past traumas by.

Life ($6.00):
A bowl of Bing Cherries. Just the ticket. I often overhear diners whinge when they see simple fruit items on a menu. They think that fruit is fruit. Wrong. If a restaurant has a good forager or vendor, they can serve up some wonderful fruit and it's better to let it speak for itself when it's at it's peak.

Do they serve rabbits here? Yes and yes. I was suspicious all night long, but the servers were efficient and knowledgeable (yet treacherous.)


Lacrima di Morro d”Alba 2001 ($27.00): This wine is named “tears” in Italian. In honor of those bunrabs who were sacrificed to the charcuterie plate. This one's for my homies with it's raspberry nose, and gentle fruit…

Espresso: A good drink if you need to stay alert around a bunch of folks who eat rabbits and sell meat out of the back.


Two and a half carrots out of four

All insensitivities towards rabbits aside, Café Rouge does a fine job. Their burgers are among my favorites, they are pretty handy behind the bar (they feature Hangar One vodka) and they have an excellent meat counter (for bastards.)



Café Rouge Bathroom Rating

There are one M and one W next to the meat counter and there are usually short waits. Clean and well stocked.

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