Rouge Et Blanc Restaurant By Chef Matt Rojas

The unsung eats of a Soho standout

We have a soft spot for the underdog.

To that end, we would like to celebrate the fine eats at Soho's Rouge et Blanc.

The restaurant opened last fall and then blipped off dining fanatics' radars. Talk about an injustice.

Chef Matt Rojas has crafted a menu rooted in French technique that meanders intrepidly across Vietnam and the rest of Asia. This wanderlust meshes well with Rouge et Blanc's French wine list and design, a breezy mingling of wicker-backed chairs, tasseled lanterns and wooden screens.

To begin our recent meal, there were bites of yellow and red watermelon ($9) splashed with yuzu juice and flicked with mint and Lynnhaven goat cheese. Though that dish merely hinted at Vietnam, a skewer of sausage ($13) molded around a stick of licorice root was a full-on homage. Its accompanying rice-noodle salad echoed the Vietnamese restaurant staple, although chopped pistachios took the place of roasted peanuts.

Two kinds of salted plums were blended for the plucky sauce that dressed grilled octopus and broiled bone marrow ($13). Rojas's lamb ribs ($25) were a wonder, marinated in coconut curry and mustard powder for three days, then grilled and served with house-made roti and eggplant cooked in duck fat.

Three cheers for our new favorite long shot.

Rouge et Blanc, 48 MacDougal St. (at W. Houston St.); 212-260-5757 or