Velo Rouge Lunch: Best in Town?

Until I got my first paycheck of the semester early last week, Jay heard lots of promises like, “When I get paid we can eat here,” or, “When I get paid I will buy you this.” I’m pretty liberal with my money when I don’t have it, but get a little tighter when I actually do, so I’m sure Jay read through a lot of these statements as just empty promises. One promise that I was bound to keep, however, was that I would take us out to lunch at Velo Rouge.

Keeping my promise wasn’t for purely self-less reasons. In fact it was mostly selfish. Velo Rouge is quickly becoming my favorite eating spot in town. The food is wonderful but not pretentious. Furthermore, the atmosphere itself is almost like a dressed-up laid back: while I would feel uncomfortable strolling in wearing a hat and sweatpants, I feel perfectly fine in jeans. The bar is also great for a good glass of wine and a quick bite, whether you go for one of their bar food options or a delicious dessert.

One of my favorite things about lunch at Velo Rouge is all the light that streams in from the large windows lining the restaurant. While Jay and are were sitting at our table, I realized that I had never actually been into that space during the daytime (the restaurant’s predecessors were primarily dinner-only spots), and the warm light pouring in from all sides really made me realize what a shame that was.

Jay and I had an appetizer of the clams, which were happily on sale. These have been documented before in my first review of VR, and they were tasty as always. For our main course, Jay and I each ordered the burger, with bleu cheese for me and cheddar for Jay.

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These burgers, I think, may very well qualify as the best burgers in town. Not only was the cheese topping amazing, but the meat itself was very well-seasoned and moist. I like Furneau’s lunch burgers and I think that the topping on the burgers is pretty tasty, but the flavor of the meat itself cannot compare to the flavor of the meat in VR’s burgers. I learned from the waiter that the burgers are made from the trimmings of their filets mignon, which explains the quality of the meat itself. Biting into the burger is quite a challenge once it’s all assembled, but it is definitely worth it.

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We couldn’t skip out without dessert, so Jay and I decided to split the apple tart tatin. Plainly speaking, this is the best apple dessert I’ve ever had. I’ve never had apples with the same texture as this dessert; they literally melted in my mouth. The portion size was perfect for lunch as well, but after ordering it at dinner I learned that it’s the same size served at other times. Nevertheless, the flavor was outstanding, and I think it’s one of my new favorites.

The only downside to the meal was that the check took FOREVER. Although the clams were on sale, our initial check did not reflect this, and it look about 20 minutes for our waiter to fix it. Lucky for him I had a good meal, so his tip didn’t suffer, but it really put a damper on an otherwise exceptional meal.

Before the check fiasco, Jay and I were discussing whether or not Velo Rouge is the best lunch in town. Granted, we have not eaten lunch at the Capitol Hotel, so our decision is not based on completely extensive research. Nevertheless, after comparing the pros and cons of some of our fave lunch spots, we concluded that VR might very well be the best lunch. We considered all factors, such as atmosphere, location, menu choice, ingredients, and whether or not there is a rotating menu. Although Imagine scored many points on the menu and the fact that it offers variety by changing it’s menu somewhat frequently, the atmosphere and location of Imagine brought down its total score. And although Furneau’s lunch offerings taste wonderful and have a great presentation (as do VR’s), I felt like I was eating in a cave and the menu itself was too short and offered little on the healthy side, other than a scant salad. As for So, I used to really like it’s lunch, but I feel it’s menu is stale and unimaginative, even though the dishes themselves are good. Again with so, like Furneau and Imagine, the atmosphere is dark and not very condusive to lunch. The only fault I have with VR’s lunch is that its menu does not frequently change. Nevertheless, I think it wins out all around, if not by a lot.

If you haven’t been to Velo Rouge for lunch yet, I highly recommend it. It’s location is also very condusive to business lunches for those who work downtown, but the wait during the lunch crunch might dissuade some business folks who want to get in and out quickly. If I was a full fledged lawyer though, I would readily take clients and new law clerks (hint hint!) to this spot for lunch, given its classiness and flavor of dishes.

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All posts and images copyright 2008 & 2009 Jenny Robertson, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Any use of images without prior written consent is prohibited.
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