Friday, December 21, 2012

Bouzy Rouge

It's definitely the season for celebrating; three weekends with BBQs, plus another BBQ for our work Christmas party. It's surprising that I found time for another dinner out, but an invite from Bouzy Rouge was too tempting to ignore. 

One of my colleagues is a former resident of Richmond and although he'd never visited the restaurant/bar himself, he mentioned that it was extremely popular. Usually that means there's both good food and good drink, so I needed to find this out for myself. Plus, Bouzy Rouge is an interesting and unusual name and a quick glance at the website suggested that it would be an interesting and unusual venue. 

Bouzy Rouge
I certainly wasn't wrong in my assumption with regards to the decor - there were mirrors on most surfaces, including on the mounted decorations. 

Bouzy Rouge
Sequinned bull heads are a little too much right? No? What about sequinned elephant heads? They were certainly a conversation starter and no-one could accuse Bouzy Rouge of being boring. Pieces are apparently from the Marais region of France, therefore explaining the somewhat jumbled mix of Moroccan, Venitian, Asian and Middle Eastern inspired decor. The quirkiness even extended to the choice of bread 'baskets'. 

Bread 'Basket'
Bouzy Rouge is split into very different sections with a main dining room, bar, courtyard and private dining spaces. It was a perfectly clear and warm summer night so were happy to have a table out in the courtyard with a cool jug of sangria while we waited for one of our party to finish up at work. 

The sangria was refreshing with a good balance of alcohol, juice and pieces of fruit. I prefer my sangria like I prefer my peanut butter and meat pies; chunky with lots of flavour and this was certainly one of the better concoctions I had.

When the jug ran dry, we indulged in a bottle of wine from a high quality wine list. 

Atticus 2007 Chardonnay
I’m no connoisseur of wine, mainly as I haven’t exposed myself to enough of it to form a strong opinion other than like vs. dislike, but this certainly paired well with most of what we ordered.

Around the same time the wine arrived, the restaurant became a full house and the waiters started paying us slightly less attention than previously – not that we really minded though seeing as we had plenty of time and were happy to sit and soak up the atmosphere. 

We were also happy to chow down on some food though when it arrived, starting off with a plate of Chilli salted calamari with salsa negra and aioli from a menu that is predominantly Spanish with other European influences apparent in some of the dishes. 

Chilli Salted Calamari
My first impression of this dish was that I couldn’t taste the chilli at all. A slight disappointment to a chilli fiend like me but there were hints of sweetness, perhaps from paprika. The squid was well cooked and tender and the salsa negra was both interesting to see and to taste. 

Our second entrée was Saganaki: pan fried Kefalograviera, olive oil and lemon.   

One day I will learn how to pronounce the name of the cheese, but this dish tasted as expected – extremely salty and creamy and altogether deliciously unhealthy. Our over-helpful waitress cut the large slice into four pieces for us so that we wouldn’t fight over it, but the photo came out worse as a result. No fighting is still a good outcome though.  

I find it hard to go to a Spanish restaurant and not order the paella dish. Bouzy Rouge offer two on the menu: Paella Mixta with chicken, chorizo, prawns, calamari, peppers and saffron, and Paella Negra with seafood galore in form of fish, calamari, clams, morcilla, scallops and squid ink. At the waiter’s recommendation, we ordered the Paella Mixta. 

Paella Mixta
The serving size was roughly right for four-people when taking into account the other dishes we ordered, but I’ll admit that I’m spoilt by some of the other establishments around that dish up giant platefuls of the stuff. The taste itself wasn’t the best as while the seafood was relatively fresh, the rice didn’t have enough flavour and there were measly amounts of both chicken and chorizo. The lovely crisp base I love in paella was missing here as well as the bottom layer was simply stuck to the pan. This offering was a shame considering how good paella can be. 

We were a lot happier with our second mains selection, the special of Roast Suckling pig with apple relish, coleslaw and roasted potatoes.

Roast Suckling Pig
The accompanying coleslaw, apple relish and roasted potatoes were nothing to rave about as the suckling pig stole the show. Somehow they had managed to get the crackling just right – thin, crisp and salty. Be warned that this dish is significantly pricier than everything else on the menu, but in my opinion it’s worth it as they cooked it so well.

Roasted Potatoes
After our mini-feast, we let enough time pass to digest our food and for Bouzy Rouge to turn on the outdoor mood lighting. We had no good reason not to share some desserts between us.

I sampled the Warm chocolate fonant with vanilla bean gelato and peanut brittle. Doesn’t that description just make your mouth water?

Warm Chocolate Fonant with Vanilla Bean Gelato and Peanut Brittle
We were even more impressed when it arrived on the plate and dug in straight after the photo was taken. 

Warm Chocolate Fonant with Vanilla Bean Gelato and Peanut Brittle
One mouthful later of delicious rich chocolate and luscious ice-cream and I paused long enough for another shot. To say I love this dessert would be an understatement. It’s a brilliant balance of bitter-sweet chocolate with refreshing ice-cream contrasted with the crisp but satisfyingly nutty sweetness of the peanut brittle. A single serve is small enough to leave you happy and content without sending your body into a sugar high. 

A Crème Catalan, described on the menu as “Creme brulee's more attractive Spanish sister” was also ordered. 

Crème Catalan
I didn’t try any of this, or the accompanying almond sable but by all accounts it was very good but extremely rich, and just the slightest bit more attractive than a crème brulee.

We actually had a very good experience at Bouzy Rouge with the full-priced bill for four people coming to $75 a head. When you consider the quality of the food and wine then that’s a very reasonable price. My only disappointment was with the paella as I thought that if a predominantly Spanish restaurant was going to get anything right, it would be this dish. Still the quirky décor and the professional service with the food made for sharing and extensive wine list means that I’m likely to return with a group of friends for an enjoyable dinner out. The restaurant is too crowded for an intimate date however.

Thanks again to Bouzy Rouge and Bella Consulting for the invite. Happy holidays to each and every one of you who reads this little blog. 

My friends and I dined as guests of Bouzy Rouge and part of the meal costs were covered by the establishment

Bouzy Rouge
470 Bridge Road, Richmond
Lunch Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm, Sun 12pm-10pm
Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm

Bouzy Rouge on Urbanspoon