Madame Rouge offers a delicious trip to France without the jetlag. It feels as if you have stumbled upon one of Brisbane’s best kept dining secrets when you walk into this sultry, sophisticated space in Fortitude Valley. Candelabras top the simple wooden tables, flowing red drapes line the room and the far wall is adorned with framed prints by Toulouse Lautrec. Booths provide a cosy place to dine with someone special. Curved banquettes can accommodate larger groups with the addition of a couple of chairs.

Taking centre stage is a horseshoe-shaped bar, presided over by bartenders who know their craft. While it is a fine idea to come in for a meal – and you should – it is equally enjoyable to sit at the bar with a French Mojito or Kir Royal and a few small plates to share with friends. Madame Rouge features classic French dishes such as beef tartare, goat’s cheese soufflé, steak frites, and slow cooked duck leg with du puy lentils. Just like a traditional Parisian bistro, these are moderately priced. Think entrees between $8 and $24 and mains under $36, with most priced around the $32 mark. Desserts are $15, with cheese also starting at $15 for one selection.

Bar at Madame Rouge

Bar at Madame Rouge

Cocktails at Madame Rouge

Cocktails at Madame Rouge

With prices like these Madame Rouge is not just for special occasions. That said, if you are looking for a ‘date night’ restaurant, this is one of Brisbane’s best. Madame Rouge is s-e-x-y. Not in an obvious way but like a stylish Parisian woman who makes passers-by either want her or want to be her. Taking your partner here is guaranteed to add an irresistible touch of je nes sais quoi to your night out.

Our meal was off to an impressive start with a couple of well-priced glasses of pinot blanc from Alsace, a goat’s cheese soufflé and boudin noir (black pudding) served with scallops and celeriac puree. We shared these dishes which worked well as the soufflé was deliciously rich. Pace yourself, particularly if you have your heart set on dessert, as servings are generous.

Boudin noir with scallops and celeriac puree

Boudin noir with scallops and celeriac puree

Gratinated goat's cheese souffle

Gratinated goat’s cheese souffle

Tables were beginning to fill but our waiter did not miss a beat, whisking away our plates and bringing back the wine list so we could choose a glass of something to accompany our main meal. Wines were poured at the table and his recommendations for each dish were spot on.

Slow cooked duck leg was the star when it came to mains, with lentils adding texture and structure to this classic French dish. While the steak was more medium-rare than medium as requested, my husband still enjoyed it. It took some begging for him to surrender a few of the frites (chips) which accompanied his meal. Not long after mains were served, were entertained by a couple of waiters singing ‘happy birthday’ to someone at another table in French. Many of the waitstaff at Madame Rouge are European which adds an authentic touch.

Slow cooked duck leg with du puy lentils and kale

Slow cooked duck leg with du puy lentils and kale

Steak frites

Steak frites

Nougat glace with raspberries

Nougat glace with raspberries

Creme caramel

Creme caramel

Desserts were excellent, particularly the nougat glace. I would come back to Madame Rouge for this dish alone. We had to leave straight after dinner but the warm woods, friendly staff and soft lighting create a beguiling ambience that makes it tempting to linger over coffee or another drink at the bar. Madame Rouge may have the good looks of a French supermodel but this restaurant is more than just a pretty face.

Disclosure: The writer dined as a guest of Madame Rouge. She has since made a booking to return to the restaurant with her family as dining at Madame Rouge is much cheaper than a trip to Paris.