Velo Rouge Brasserie: Restaurant Review

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My husband and I look forward to new restaurant openings like children look forward to new toys. There’s nothing more pleasing, it seems, than being one of the first to try out a new place, or to experience what a traditionally dinner-only restaurant offers for lunch.

That’s why when Jay read on the Arkansas Times that Velo Rouge Brasserie was opening up in Little Rock where our much-loved Nu Restaurant used to be, we salivated with glee at the first chance we would get to try it. Our first chance came sooner rather than later, and we sauntered up to the new main doors only the second night the restaurant was open.

As beloved followers of Nu, I was concerned about whether or not the new ambiance would appeal to me, or whether the replacement would be just a sad reminder of how I lost one of my favorite restaurants. If you visted Nu before the recent change, then you can appreciate how drastically the restaurant has changed. Number one, the main entrance is in an entirely different place, facing President Clinton Ave. rather than the parking lot (quick note: in parking in the adjacent parking lot, we were not met by a valet parker and parked in the lot for free, although this could have been a welcome accident). Second: the bar is incorporated into the restaurant, rather than occupying a separate area of the building. This is a welcome change and adds to the hominess of the restaurant. Third: the interior decorating has completely changed. Gone is the stark white and minimalist lighting; now the interior consists of rich hardwoods and warm lighting. The first thing I thought upon entering the restaurant: this place is cozy.

The hostesses were very nice and sat us without a delay. Because I was encountering a new restaurant, I took a little more time looking at the menu than normal, but our waitress was very patient. Upon questioning her about any recommendations, she recommended the Steak Frites (which I ended up ordering), and the Roasted Chicken.

I want to get the faults out of the way quickly, because they were small and inconsequential: (1) the restaurant has not started the specials of the day (we were seriously considering the Saturday special, but it helped our dinner decisions); (2) a good amount of menu items were not available, but not enough to make our dinner choices restrictive; (3) the wine menu on the printed menu does not mesh with the wine menu on the chalk board posted on the wall in the restaurant, and some wine choices from the chalk board were not available (after dinner we stopped by the bar because I really wanted to try the white meritage, which was unfortunately unavailable).

For first course, my husband and I had the clams, which were simmered in a white wine sauce. Although the menu stated that the sauce included safron, the taste was so subtle that it was unnoticeable. The clams were accompanied by very small fried potato pieces, which were divine once dredged through the clam and wine juice.

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After the clams we both had a small bibb salad, which the menu said was accompanied by a red wine vinaigrette. Unfortunately, the salad dressing was entirely too salty and reminded me of salty green olives, definitely not red wine vinaigrette. Nevertheless, the salad did come with a tasty ricotta-covered toasted slice of bread. salas.jpg

For dinner, I had the filet and my husband had the duck. I like my steaks on the rare side of rare, and for me my rare steak resembled more of a medium-rare steak, but I chose not to complain. Regardless, my steak was very tender and delicious. It was accompanied by a large quantity of very good fries and some kind of greens, which, unfortunately, were much too salty.

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My husband’s duck was some of the best I have ever had (too many restaurants in town overcook it and drown it in too much sauce). His duck came with a fennel and olive salad, which was very interesting. My husband thought the flavor was too strong, but I thought it was fine. The Arkansas wild rice, on the other hand, was very good.

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For dessert I had the (excuse the spelling in advance) Pot du Creme, and my husband had the profiteroles. My dessert was the best chocolate dessert I have ever had, and coming from a chocoholic that is quite a compliment.

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I am not a huge creme brulee fan, probably because I think they are so overdone and boring, and when I first got my dessert I thought it was only another creme brulee with some whipped topping. Fortunately, I was hugely mistaken. Unlike a creme brulee, this dessert had no caramelized topping. Both the chocolate and the whipped topping had the same texture, which made a spoonful of both a heavenly combination. Each bite felt like I was eating a chocolate cloud, and I found myself awakening from a dessert-induced daze after many bites.

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My husband’s dessert was also very good, very sweet with a nice rich vanilla ice cream, although it came with less chocolate sauce than to be desired. We finished off our dinner with a few cups of very nice coffee.

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Overall, out experience was wonderful. Other than a few items that were much too salty and a few items that simply were not available, everything was very good. The service (something that I am an absolute stickler for) was impeccable, and we couldn’t have had a better waitress. Wanting to try the white meritage, something I had never seen before but which was unfortunately unavailable, my husband and I sat at the bar for a while, and the bartender was very attentive and very approachable. I asked her about how the opening had been going, and she seemed very positive other than a few computer glitches and a few unavailable items.

Finally, the ambiance is very warm and welcoming. I liked the place the second I walked in the door. If you have visited the Irish pub in North Little Rock, Cregeen’s, then you have some idea about the atmosphere of this place, only a little nicer. Needless to say, this is one of my new favorite places, and while the wine list isn’t quite as extensive as let’s say Ferneau or Ciao Baci, you can still order a $150 bottle of Bordeaux if you are so inclined.

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1 Response to “Velo Rouge Brasserie: Restaurant Review”



  1. 1 Eat Arkansas « I’m Hungry Trackback on November 29, 2007 at 10:49 pm

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