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Rue Cler (Durham, NC)


BryanZ
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As of last Friday this place is open. One of their sous chefs is an eG member, perhaps he'll chime in or check in when he gets some time.

The $25 menu looks great for classic French bistro fare grounded by the North Carolinian terroir.

With this place and Piedmont, I personally am very excited with this emphasis on local ingredients here in Durham.

I'll check it out in the next few days and let you guys know how things are in the restaurants infancy.

http://www.ruecler-durham.com/

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Stopped by tonight for some initial impressions. I think I'll take to liking this place a lot. The restaurant was obviously understaffed tonight (only 2 waitresses, the host and chefs were running food) but overall the vibe and food was good.

The fundamentals are there and they were very accomodating to my party but I would like to see a bit more attention paid to the food and its presentation. While it all was quite tasty, greasy plate rims, off-center plating, lukewarm dishes, and other small issues somewhat tainted the experience. I'm quite sure they'll work out all the issues in coming weeks.

Definitely call ahead by an hour or two if you want a table, it was packed tonight and there's literally NOWHERE else to wait in the area; this is downtown Durham afterall.

I will certainly be back in coming weeks. The signs are good, and this is one of the few places in Durham where I might want to eat and could afford to on a somewhat regular basis.

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Thanks for the interest and the input, Bryan. It's been a crazy month, and an even crazier week, but we survived somehow. There are certainly a lot of little things that need to be fixed in the coming days, but our staff is fleshing out with some talented individuals, and everyone at the bistro is really focusing on details. We're so excited to be a part of downtown Durham, and have been amazed at the turnout for lunch and dinner.

For the unaware, the (very much "under construction") website is www.ruecler-durham.com

Look there for our hours of operation. I'll be trying to add more content this week, such as menus (duh!), the wine list, plus some fun background on our proprietors and staff, as well as a section devoted to our local farmers and our crazy French winemakers. Don't quote me on that... People have been eating coq au vin faster than I can make it, so I might not get around to adding all of that info. for a little while.

cheers,

Jason

(sous chef)

Will cook for food.

jasonbissey@yahoo.com

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I'll be back again this weekend. The g/f is coming in from a town where red sauce reigns and is hankerring for some classic French.

It should be noted that the servers who were working on the very busy night I went were great. Very accomodating and friendly despite the obvious stress.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Stopped by tonight and was impressed.

Started with the gnocchi with mushrooms and greens. The gnocchi were pillowy goodness (okay I'm a sucker for gnocchi anyway), the mushrooms nice and meaty. I prefer my gnocchi tossed into a skillet for a slight crust on the outside, which these weren't. But hey, that's not the tradtional gnocchi recipe so it's tough to fault someone for not doing it :-)

Next was the duck confit crepe. A bit difficult to eat as I didn't have a knife. The duck was basically bite sized but since it was inside a crepe it was tough to tell exactly where to seperate with the fork. My least favorite of the dishes I tried, but still good.

Veal sirloin with fingerling potatoes and cherries was the third course. Nice preperation and the fingerling potatoes picked up the sauce well. I'm not overly familiar with veal really so it's tough for me to compare.

The crepe of the day was a banana-caramel-rum crepe with a bit of chocolate on the top. Every bit as good as it sounds and it was extremely large (a bit too large I thought...)

The first three courses were included in the $25 price fixe menu and the dessert was $5. Wine was $6-$8/glass and cocktails were in the same range (at least my gin and tonic was). I wasn't absolutely wowed by the food (though it was quite good) but for that price I thought it was very good.

Both the salmon and the chicken specials of the day (which I don't recall exactly anymore) sounded very good but I wanted to try the 3 course price fixe first.

When I went in (around 6:30) the place was only about one third full but by the time I left there was only one table empty, which was a fairly large table, and I think one person waiting at the bar.

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I went last night and had the 3 course meal as well. Endive, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Salad which was particularly nice. Dressing was bright but had a curious richness. The cheese itself was delicious. Also had, and enjoyed the gnocchi while my companion had the crepe. The duck was very tender and the dish was all together good. I should say that my wife started with the mushroom soup which was gorgeously rich and mushroomy. My Tuna with picholine olives was great. One thing that caught my eye about it was that it wasn't fashionably uber-rare, rather cooked to about Medium Rare but it really seemed to work for the dish. After seeing the tables around us deal with desserts that were easily twice the size of any other courses they had, we took their word on it and skipped.

In general, after two trips I think they're doing a wonderful job. I love the muscadet so I may take back what I have said (maybe not on this site?) about offering something else by the glass.

I'm rather sure that Rue Cler will end up in our regular rotation of spots to eat.

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Ah, I knew I was thinking of something that I forgot to write.

The wine list is fairly small (30 or so wines maybe?) and the wines by the glass even smaller (4-5 I believe). I definitely would have liked to see a larger selection. No brandy either, so I couldn't have the Sidecar that I was craving for some reason.

Food was good, but would have liked a little larger wine list to choose from, especially by the glass.

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So, people, what's the buzz? We've been open for a few weeks, and have been crazy busy almost every day, for both lunch and dinner. I don't get out of the kitchen too often, and so I'm curious about your opinions in re: the food and the atmosphere. All I can say is that it's been an amazing experience to be a part of a new eatery downtown, and especially amazing to be so busy. I hope the proprietors won't mind me saying that the amount of business we've done has been truly unexpected. It's been a lot of fun to grow into a restaurant that is suddenly busy as hell on a random tuesday lunch, not to mention those friday nighdts when we feel like we're feeding half the population of Durham.

So, thanks for the support, and more importantly, bring on the criticism. We want to be your neighborhood spot; we're not afraid of helpful suggestions. And salud to the Piedmont, as well. It's great to have some company serving good food in the windy streets of downtown Durham. Perhaps some day soon it won't seem quite so lonely down here. Judging from the parking situation lately, that day is not far off. Buy a hip condo while you can; Durham aint messing around any longer.

cheers,

jason (sous chef, rue cler)

Will cook for food.

jasonbissey@yahoo.com

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Food and prices are good to very good and certainly a welcome addiition to the area. The $25 three-course dinner is an ample amount of food and fairly priced.

Service is good, but I've found the location is terribly understaffed. Simple things like water glasses not being refilled and silverware not being replaced are pet peeves of mine and unfortunatley happened too often on my visits.

I'm ambivalent toward the waiting/call-ahead policy. Either do one (no call-aheads) or the the other (all call-aheads with a couple tables saved for walk-ins).

I wasn't impressed with desserts.

Would like to see more wines by the glass and perhaps a revised wine list that explains some of the flavor profiles of these somewhat obscure French wines. If I could order wine, I wouldn't know what to order and monopolizing the few servers as we talk over wine isn't something I'd want to do.

I may sound like I'm being overly-critical, but I really like this place. It's got the same local, great food of the Federal, only much classier. Come next Thursday I'll post my full review.

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