Who: Emmanuel Verstraeten, Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman,
What: Rouge Tomate New York
When: M-Sat: 12-2:30, 530-10:30.
Where: 10 E 60th St (between 5th Ave & Madison)
Why: For those who are health conscious, a special night out should still be enjoyable and not a nightmare. For New Yorkers, most self identified healthy restaurants are limited to midtown lunch spots where coperates crowd behind a counter and BlackBerry while waiting to pick up their grilled, unsalted, whole wheat burgers. That is, until Rouge Tomate landed in a glamorous, 15,000 sq ft space next to Reem Accra last fall and accomplished what health nuts have long considered an impossible feat: marrying flavor and nutrition with a low calorie, fine dining experience that doesn’t limit you to only one bite of your dessert.
I had dinner there with my friend Andrea last month after mulling over various locations that were convenient to our Central Park South businesses. New York certainly offers no shortage of fine dining, especially not in this incredibly upscale locale but we wanted to show up in our pretty dresses and leave feeling just as svelte.
It’s obvious from the grand design that Rouge Tomate aims to impress. Stepping into the space produces that same ooh, ahh rush one gets from entering an extremely high scale fashion boutique. We were perched in an optimal spot in the upper level that treated us to sweeping view of the entire dining area and cocktail lounge. The restaurant is thoroughly committed to being environmentally sustainable and the green details are apparent everywhere. The tables, for example, are made from reclaimed coconut shells! But the restaurant, of course, doesn’t lack lack any epicurean talent. The kitchen is led by Chef Jeremy Bearman (L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon) and his team includes head pastry chef James Distefano (davidburke & donatella) as well as in house nutritionist Natalia Rusin (a registered dietitians and personal chef). It’s Rusin’s work that sets Rouge Tomate a step above the rest. She works with Bearman to source ingredients that balance taste with health. She develops the menu to combine certain foods in order to increase absorption of specific nutrients. Diners will also notice that the menu encourages eating vegetarian, fish and poultry dishes. She figures out portion sizes and makes sure that diners get the optimal combination of carbs, proteins and fats. According to Rusin, a meal at Rouge Tomate should provide about 40% of one’s daily nutrition needs.
For some reason, for many people, eating “healthy” conjures up thoughts of having to have another meal. This is not the case here. I ordered the Spice Glazed Island Duck as my entree and Andrea had a fish. Both of us finished feeling fully satiated.
As far as how delicious the food is, I actually found the healthy taste to be refreshing. In his New York Times review, Frank Bruni mentions wanting to sprinkle cheese and salt on his dishes. Compared to some other restaurants, Rouge Tomate, does go lighter on the flavor but I actually savor that clean feeling. If I liked what salt and cheese did to my body, I wouldn’t be eating at Rouge Tomate.
Also of note are their cocktails. Made with fresh fruits and vegetables, these are probably some of the freshest and healthiest cocktails in the city (delicious too!). Even for those who have different dining plans, I would recommend Rouge Tomate as a stop for a drink or two.
Reservations can be made at (646) 237-8977.