Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Vegan Eats | Café Rouge, York

Since I decided to switch to a vegan diet at the beginning of November (there were all sorts of ethical and health related reasons for this which I’ll save for a future post) I only had one real concern.  Would I still be able to indulge my love of trying out new restaurants whilst eating vegan?

I could have let this worry stop me, but instead I’ve set myself a challenge, to eat at and review lots of different restaurants for their ability and willingness to adapt their food to a different way of eating.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

The first restaurant I had the pleasure of trying as part of this new challenge was Café Rouge on Low Petergate in York.  Now let’s face it, being a French restaurant chain that’s pretty famous for its menu of steak, duck, chicken, fish, etc. you perhaps wouldn’t expect to find much vegan food, but it can be done.  I went along with an omnivorous friend, by the name of Lisa, to sample the menu.

It was a horrible night when we went to the restaurant, it was cold, raining, the wind was blowing and I couldn’t wait to get inside.  The surroundings were warm and comfortable, it was pretty busy for a weeknight evening, but we were seated very quickly and ordered our drinks.  Café Rouge has a great wine list, but neither of us were drinking, so just went for soft drinks.

The menu at Café Rouge is pretty extensive but with lots of meat and fish and with sauces made with milk, butter and cheese, there wasn’t anything at first glance that was vegan.  I’d thought ahead though and before going had talked with the team about some options that could be ‘veganised’.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

For a starter I had seriously considered going for the Champignons À L'ail, a concoction of mushrooms and garlic on grilled rye bread (the version on the menu has cream, but this could easily be left out), but as I was having a fairly carb-heavy main I opted for the Rouge Olives instead.  I wasn’t disappointed, the mix of olives, cornichons, capers and roquito chillies was a great little starter.  I really loved the chillies especially, they were sweet at first, but then hit you with just a little bit of heat, yum!  Lisa went for Champignons À L'ail and was very appreciative that the chef hadn’t skimped on the garlic, cream and herbs to complement the mushrooms.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

When it came to mains there was one choice I really wanted, the Risotto Aux Champignons, it was really easy for them to make vegan too, simply removing the butter, cheese and crème fraiche that the dish would have had on the standard menu.  I adore a good risotto, this was the first one I’d had since deciding to go vegan, and I needn’t have worried that I’d miss the cheese, it was tasty as hell, really savoury thanks to the mushrooms but with a light/fresh flavour from the lemon and herbs.  I had no trouble at all finishing my plateful.

Similarly, Lisa really enjoyed her Demi Poulet, a half roast chicken with thyme, black pepper, serves with frites and a thyme jus.  She described the chicken as succulent and herby and the frites were perfectly crisp and were delicious with the jus.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

By the end of both of those mains we were absolutely stuffed and couldn’t face desserts, we did want a little something though so Lisa had a hot chocolate and I chose a peppermint tea, it was a great end to a really tasty meal for both of us.

So my first test of eating vegan in a not traditionally vegan restaurant was a success!  With a little forewarning the chefs were more than happy to tweak food to suit me, hopefully in the future I’ll see vegan options appearing on the Café Rouge menu too.

Now I’ve just got to decide where to try next.  If you’ve got any suggestions I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…



  1. I love how accommodating they where for you, that really does make or break a dining experience! I really think getting in touch with places ahead of time is going to be key in getting you a brilliant and vegan friendly experience! Everything looks delicious, I can't believe I've never actually ate at Cafe Rouge before!

    Sarah :)
    Saloca in Wonderland

    1. The way they handled everything was brilliant I thought, I know some restaurants would probably struggle, but the customer service was brilliant too.

      Sharon x


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