Rouge Tomate Reopens in Chelsea, To The Delight of Lovers of Wine and Cuisine-So-Delicious-You-Forget-It’s-Healthful

Saturday, October 8, 2016
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Upper Right: Andrew Dornenburg chats with Rouge Tomate’s beverage director and partner Pascaline Lepeltier, MS; Middle: Hristo Zisovski, long-time beverage director of the Altamarea Group, with Karen Page

“For two years now, New York wine lovers have been restlessly tapping their feet, checking their watches and sighing heavily as they waited for word that Rouge Tomate would reappear.  The restaurant, one of the city’s great wine destinations, closed its East 60th Street location in August 2014. Initial word was that it would reopen in Chelsea by early 2015. Then, by that fall. Now, finally, any day.”
Eric Asimov, The New York Times (September 6, 2016)

When a beloved restaurant closes, there’s a mourning process involved.

That’s how we’ve felt since the 2014 closing of the 60th Street location of Rouge Tomate, the Michelin-starred wine-focused so-delicious-you’d-never-know-it-was-healthful-too restaurant that was a favorite of wine lovers and food lovers alike.

So there’s a special joy in its resurrection in the form of Rouge Tomate Chelsea, which opened September 28th in a new, smaller, more rustic space on West 18th Street.  While the setting is quite different, the restaurant’s heart and soul still shine through, in some ways louder and clearer than ever.

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We loved every single bite of savory food we tasted at Rouge Tomate Chelsea during our dinner, with standouts including a mushroom tartare that may be the single most wine-friendly dish in America

The song remains the same, thanks to the return of a stellar cast of professionals, including beloved master sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, whose passion for the natural wines on her extensive list is contagious.

Always-on-it general manager Rachel Palczynski is back to offer her trademark welcoming warmth to the dining room, while Chef Andy Bennett exhibits a wizardry with flavors that still keeps us asking, “How did he do that?” upon tasting such exquisite richness in dishes known to eschew butter and cream.

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Rouge Tomate Chelsea’s wine list includes a great value Mas Coutelou natural red ($9/glass)

For a wine-focused restaurant, those who are price-conscious won’t be left out of the fun.  We loved tasting the restaurant’s $9/glass offering — an organic red from Mas Coutelou — not to mention Lepeltier’s fellow master sommelier Christopher Bates’ $5/glass Chadonnay-that-is-not-a-sherry but could have fooled the two of us with one whiff.

We’ve only had the pleasure of visiting once (when we ran into Altamarea Group beverage director Hristo Zisovski, to whom his wife Tia Keenan‘s beautiful new book The Art of the Cheese Plate is dedicated) — so far.  But in the weeks ahead, with the restaurant open 6 nights a week (except Mondays) and soon opening for lunch, we’ll definitely be back to celebrate the (re-)birth of something we already know to be new and very special.

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Rouge Tomate Chelsea is at 126 West 18th Street (bet. Sixth and Seventh Avenues), Manhattan.  Phone:  646.395.3978  Website:  rougetomatechelsea.com

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