Last week, I had the great pleasure of having dinner at Rue Dumaine with fellow grill/food blogger Curt of Bucky’s Barbeque and Bread. Curt planned the night as both a meet-up for local Dayton/Cincinnati food bloggers and as an event to spread the word about the treasure that is Rue Dumaine. Although the number of dinner guests dwindled to just the two of us, we had a wonderful experience and a great meal. In fact, we talked so much we ended being the only guests left in the restaurant. Fortunately as well, our cameras didn’t scare anyone away. Yes, Curt shares the same affliction I do: food photography!
I think the lack of great restaurants in the Dayton area is the precise reason Zoë and I enjoy eating at home so much. A chain restaurant may fill the spot in a busy schedule, but it is hardly a meal to remember. It simply checks a box. Rue Dumaine is an exception.
Located between a furniture store and an ice cream shop, Rue Dumaine’s somewhat nondescript strip mall exterior hides the well oiled workings of a French bistro. Rue Dumaine is owned and operated by Chef Anne Kearney and her husband Tom. A native of Dayton, Chief Anne graduated from the Cincinnati Culinary Arts Academy and later took up residence in New Orleans where, after working for several different restaurants, eventually became proprietor of her own, Peristyle. According to Chef Anne’s Wikipedia entry, Rue Dumaine is the street that Peristyle was located on.
Chef Anne was named the American Express Best Chef of the Southeast in 2002 and was pictured on the 1998 cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America”. Another interesting fact, Chef Anne worked for Emeril Lagasse for 3 years where she worked on the line, developed cookbook recipes, and researched and wrote Emeril’s TV scripts. We are now lucky to have Chef Anne in Dayton.
This was my second trip to Rue Dumaine. My first was a Valentine’s surprise from Zoë. Curt has been numerous times and held this event because he appreciates how important good local independent restaurants are.
James, our sever, was great and Curt’s experience with the menu helped guide some of the selections as we shared and worked our way through the starters and mains. Even a week later, I can still remember the taste of just about everything we had. I especially loved the duck rillette crepes. Of course anything with duck I am a sucker for.
Chef Anne prepared for us a pork terrine and the charcuterie of the evening, scallop sausage. Nestled on top of some greens and beets, I could have had several more.
As readers of my blog know, I am a beer guy. That is not to say I do not like wine. On the contrary, I quite enjoy it. I can pair a red wine to red meat and white to fish or chicken, but past that I am lost. Mike, our sommelier, chose for us a 2006 Shiraz from Schild Estate. It worked for me…although sorry, that is about as descriptive as I get when it comes to wine.
For our mains, we each shared an order of Cabernet braised beef short ribs with remoulade slaw and grilled pork tender, cornmeal cakes, haricot vert (French green beans) and a classic demi-glace sauce of walnuts, capers, sultanas, and cornichons (cornichons=French for gherkin, as in pickles!).
The ribs were deliciously tender and was nicely complimented by the bold taste of the cabernet, a taste I do savor.
The pork tenderloins were also very good. The one thing about the pork that interested me the most was the presentation. Piled vertically on the cornmeal, I kept wanting to look at it and not eat it. That doesn’t happen very often.
For dessert, we shared a cheese plate. I never, ever, ever pass up cheese.
Chef Anne came by to speak with us. She was approachable, interesting, and fun. We touched on the topic of fine dining in Dayton. Rue Dumaine is in my opinion, better and less expensive, that a number of her peers. Mains range in price from $20 - $24.
My only “complaint”: more high ABV craft beers! Rue Dumaine does have a varied, yet small beer list with some great beers (Rogue, Anchor, Abita). I think it would be great if they added some additional larger beers that could be enjoyed over the course of dinner.
I believe Rue Dumaine is a great treasure to have her in the Dayton area. To find someone like Chef Anne with such a rich culinary history that cares so deeply about her craft and the food she produces, she is a local resource not to squander. If you get a chance, stop in. You will not be disappointed.
My thanks again to Curt for his organization and conversation and many, many thanks to Chef Anne and the great staff of the Rue Dumaine. I can not wait to return.