Inside The Amazing Wine and Cuisine From NYC’s Rouge Tomate
In two back to back podcasts on The Grape Nation, I heard references and heavy praise for a Manhattan restaurant called Rouge Tomate. The first was in reference to the podcast guest’s favorite wine bar and wine restaurants in New York, while the second was an hour long podcast with the beverage director and partner at the restaurant, Pascaline Lepeltier, who is also a Master Sommelier (one of 146 Master Sommeliers in the US).
With a trip to NYC planned for the following month, I thought it would be fun to visit Rouge Tomate, and just simply ask them to pair wines with their dishes, leaving the pairings and food choices entirely up to the staff, with no mention that this might wind up in an online story someday. And it was a heck of a night of wine and excellent cuisine. Here’s a little of what we got into.
First up, Pascaline has a deep fondness for French Chenin so we began with a glass of Claire Florent Béjon, “Les Gruches” Chenin, which I was told is only available at Rouge Tomate. It was excellent, light, refreshing with more body and depth than many other Chenins I’ve tasted. This was paired with an anchovy, creamy broccoli dip and sesame rice crackers.
Next up were a couple of unique lighter reds that my dinner companion and I both enjoyed. First was the 2014 Franck Pascal Coteau Champenois Confiance, a blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir from the Champagne region, that was distinctly different with bright fruit, stony/earthiness, a little tart, good acidity. This was a standout wine for us for the evening and I believe the first time I have had a still, non sparkling version of these varietals from Champagne.
The second wine was a nice complement, the Cobero Mencia, which was also excellent as a light bodied red. This round, along with the previous white wines, was paired with a diced yellowtail in a pineapple, lime, cucumber sauce that was delicious, as well as a mushroom tartar. The taste of the food changed remarkably between the two styles of wine and we were split as to which we preferred for each dish.
Next, we enjoyed the skate fish and a vegetable salad with carrots, which followed suit as being outstanding. With these dishes we were served a red blend from Mexico, the La Santa Bichi Como Vino al Mundo Tecate (not sure of vintage), alongside the 2014 El Rey Del Glam, a 100% Garnacha wine from Spain.
Since we didn’t have a lot of experience with Mexican wines, we were definitely curious about this one, and while it was different, it was a little dusty, and off balance for us. But again, we were glad to be able to try something new and different. That’s how you expand your wine world. The Garancha on the other hand was perfect, right in our wheelhouse, and food friendly enough to have been paired with almost anything we had that night.
Following this round, we moved into some richer reds that were paired with a mushroom ravioli that was delicious. This includes the 2013 Clos du Rouge Gorge Cotes Catalanes from Roussillon, and 2013 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine from Loire, both Syrah drive red blends that were unique to one another, and fun to taste side by side.
And finally, to complete the evening we were served two dessert wines that were unique to say the least. The first was a 16-year old aged sake that tasted like a cognac. We both could have passed on this one. On the other side of the spectrum was a Japanese Yuzu sake, that was frothy with heavy lemon.
This one was much more approachable, and would find favor with some, but was a little too sweet for us. One drink was great, but it was hard to finish much more, especially with the lingering notes of the other amazing wines and food we had just enjoyed.
One other important aspect to note is that many of the wines served at Rouge Tomate are natural, bio-dynamically produced. It’s remarkable to me that they can seek out and identify so many of these great wines, given the constraints of remaining inside the bio dynamic realm. This is why you visit restaurants like this.
Overall, this is a memorable experience, and one that I don’t anticipate being topped anytime soon. I love the food and ridiculous depth of wine lists at places like Berns in Tampa and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, but there’s something pretty amazing going on in this little spot in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that wine and food aficionados would undoubtedly enjoy very much. And given the chatter going on about this place in wine circles, it sounds like the word is out.
Have you visited Rouge Tomate? What was your experience like? Are there any other wine driven restaurants you recommend?