The Rouge Tomate open kitchen:
Sanitas Per Escam = Health Through Food
I was at a post-concert party a few Sundays back and a woman asked me what I thought of vitamin supplements. I said I believe that with proper nutrition, one should have the vitamins and nutrients we need through food. Now there’s a restaurant that serves patrons with that very idea at its heart: health through food. But how exactly do you accomplish that when you have dietary restrictions that if not accommodated could mean dis-health through food? I suspect Rouge Tomate can step in and answer that question. Dining with the Rouge Tomate team was like stepping into a warm bath: comforting, safe, and utterly delicious.
But I’m jumping ahead.
Opened at the end of October, I took one glance at the Rouge Tomate menu online and thought, “Oooh way too nutty.” So I put it out of my mind as a place to try. But Shari suggested trying it saying that if after talking with them I was still concerned about the AG sitch, we’d go to plan B. She’s such a cool, safe person when it comes to trying new restaurants; she really helps me to push myself as well.
Running low on time, I called them only hours before our 830pm reservation. Brett who answered the phone said, “Let me put you through to the kitchen to talk with them directly.” We likee.
I spoke with Chef Andy who said, “We can handle nut allergies, it won’t be an issue. We can easily make substitutions, it won’t be a problem.” Alrighty, let's see I thought, still apprehensive but feeling more confident.
When we entered the dining room, the hostess wrote down all my allergies, putting them into the computer right then and there which has a direct line to the kitchen. Super! She also mentioned that I should tell my server. But of course!
Before our server reached our table, William, beverage manger, swooped in. He calmly listened to all my allergy concerns and said, “It won’t be a problem. I used to be a chef and I can tell you that this kitchen really understands, as do I, what your concerns are. We will be able to handle this without an issue.”
He asked me if I had an allergen card. Folks: HE asked ME for the card.
Now I was feeling pretty special. He came back, saying: “The kitchen will make you the Brussels sprout dish without nuts and they are going to make a completely new batch to ensure that there is no cross contamination with the Brussel sprouts they had previously prepped…In case someone put their gloved hand in the bowl after touching nuts”.
Here’s what the room looks like. Our table:
They brought out an amuse bouche of beets and citrus:
Here is the "Salad Of Brussels Sprout Leaves market pear, berkshire prosciutto, balsamic"-- lovely:
My main was sirloin with mixed mushrooms, spinach and a red wine reduction (no flour anywhere):
William explaining Shari's main dish:
William brought over a glass of Sancere on the house. Smokey and smooth it was a perfect compliment to the meal. By this point I was feeling safe enough to drink. (I typically don’t drink unless the meal is safe. Nota Bene: Alcohol increases the allergenicity of the stomach.)
I felt completely at ease, taken care of and safe. And the meal was a pleasure. William mentioned that if I gave them two days to prepare the Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman wanted to create an entire menu, not simply their menu with deletions or substitutions, for me, according to what I can eat and what is in season. The Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman, according to William, finds this a welcome challenge and is happy to create this for this Allergic Girl (any allergic person really).
I know, I know. Crazy right? I hope to go back before the end of the year.
If you are looking for a special experience, put Rouge Tomate on your list (use opentable.com to book and list your special needs). And ask for William!
10 E 60th St,
New York 10022
Btwn 5th & Madison Ave
UPDATE: Went back mid-December for another entirely Allergic Girl safe meal from amuse bouche to dessert and vino.
Cauliflower three ways for the amuse.
Mushrooms with potato hash topped with a perfectly poached egg for the app.
A glass of Blaufränkisch with the entree.
Guinea hen with roasted veggies over quinoa for the entree.
Fresh mutsu apple juice for the palate cleanser.
Three sorbets: grapefruit, pomegranate and cinnamon pear for dessert.
No nuts, no fish, no dairy, no wheat = no problem!
Chef Andy and Chef James ensured everything they made was AG safe; our server Noel was lovely; manager William was charming, funny, relaxed, reassuring and completely understanding of the AG sitch, fears and doubts (because you know I still had them).
It was another pleasurable and safe dining experience at Rouge Tomate. And did I mention totally delicious? It was. Totally delicious. Every bite. I can't wait to try the cafe upstairs when I return again in the new year.