Durham >Food & Dining > Rue Cler Restaurant
401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC | Directions 2770135.997037 -78.899755
Neighborhoods: City Center, Downtown
Had dinner here before theater for the first time last night and the food was amazing. Great wine selections too. Can't wait to go back again.
Snobby, unwelcoming, rude. – I would give this zero stars if I could. We attempted to go to the coffee shop part of the establishment 15 minutes after another friend had bought a bag of pastries there. The man at the door (with bad teeth, yet deliberately looking down his nose at us) rudely refused us entrance *to the coffee shop* on the basis that we did not have a reservation.
Reservations. To get coffee to go? 15 minutes after they sold someone else a bag of donuts to go, no problem? I see.
If you don't look like you're rolling in money, they will block you at the door and not let you in. We were wearing normal, nice clothes and were well groomed... but I guess we didn't reek of money. We also noticed that everyone there was white, without exception. Apparently they also deny entrance to minorities upon whatever pretext they can come up with.
I will never darken their doorway offering them my money again, I can tell you that.
Time up – On a recent Saturday night we met friends for dinner at Rue Cler. Our Reservation was for 6:30 and we arrived on time. Started with cocktails, and talked while we looked at the menue. Our waitress explained how their menue worlked and we eventually placed our orders. The French Onion Soup was wonderful and our salads were good. We ordered the steak and a good bottle of wine to go with it. Everything was cooked as we asked and the wine was very nice. After our dinner we ordered desert and that also was good. We paid our bill and sat back with coffee and were having a nice conversation when the manager or head waiter came over and told us they needed our table. They offered to buy us another drink at the bar...which was extremely noisy and crowded, but we already had enough alcohol so we left. We had been there a total of two hours and fifteen mintues. Not sure how I felt about that , it certainly was the first time I was ever asked to vacate a table in a resturant.first time for all of us for hat matter. If the resturant has timed seatings they should have told us upfront,when making reservations or suffered through. I don't think two house and fifteen minutes from cocktails to coffee is over staying our welcome. Liked the food but left with a bad teast in my mouth.
Could use some work – Our group of 15 were the only ones in this restaurant that unfortunately, appears to have been placed in a gutted fast food location and has no atmosphere, coziness, warmth or character. Very bare bones essentials.
The waiter, a tattooed, double large earing "man", ran through the menu as if he was practicing to do the auto sales disclaimer for a radio ad. That is, when they eventualy took our order which was by no means speedy.
The menu, true to form, was in French but ironically enough, even though I frequent Indian and Chinese restaurants, both realize that many do not speak Hindi or Mandarin and kindly may print in both the native tongue as well as English. Perhaps the owner of Rue Cler though that using English letters would be sufficient.
most disappointing – Dinner was very pedestrian, menu a bit confusing, service very very slow, and the food was just not up to french bistro standards. My beef brisket was like a TV dinner and my companion's mussels were over flavored with strong lemon sauce. I do not intend to return
Thoroughly Enjoyed!! – I have been to Rue Cler 3 times now and all 3 times have been great experiences! Twice I ordered off of the prix fixe menu, the third time ala carte. The food has been consistently good and fresh and the servers have always provided my husband and I with tasty wine suggestions.
What is everyone else ordering? – I have been to Rue Cler twice, the first time being so bad that I didn't think I would ever go back. Tonight I decided to give it another try and was equally disgusted and annoyed. In my opinion, any "French" restaurant that cannot manage to concoct and even decent Croque Madame or onion soup is a shame.
I see these good reviews and wonder where the problem is. My husband and I eat at many Durham establishments and this is by far the very worst. Vin Rouge is so much better, with a much more lovely ambience as well. Don't waste your time or money at Rue Cler.
good food for any meal – This is one of those places I wish I could eat at more often. Breakfast on the bakery side is low key. My coworkers and I sometimes stop in for coffee and beignets or a muffin--tasty and inexpensive. But the restaurant side is much nicer. My wife and I had an afternoon off and got lunch here not that long ago. The coq au vin was good, and so were her moules frites... not light fare, a little more expensive, but delicious. I haven't been for dinner yet, but I hope to. I recommend it to anyone looking for a sit-down lunch in downtown Durham who's looking to skip the pub fare.
Quick good value lunch – Based on mixed reviews, this was a pleasant surprise. On a recent mid-week visit my wife and I were promptly seated, immediately provided with the generic lunch menu and fresh home-baked bread. The first surprise was to find a perfectly acceptable Muscadet available as both a good aperitif that would also blend well with most of the menu items. It should be noted that a few were unavailable - but not to worry: we chose the omelet-of-the-day and the moules frites. I am happy to report that both were excellent - the frites were even "real" frites, not pretentious too-thin or too-big versions of "French fries" as are so often found! The mussels were fresh and deliciously steamed in a white wine-garlic-scallion sauce; the omelet was light and served piping hot with a perfectly sauteed filling of fresh vegetables. The desserts were standard fare. The expresso coffee was superb. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was a restaurant owner for 20 years and continue peripherally by reviewing eateries for a major city publication. Now the bad news. Designers of ?modern? restaurants, including Rue Cler, must be in need of brain transplants: for the life of me I cannot fathom why such spartan designs abound. The ?unfinished? look is just that, and its not appealing. Neither are the uncomfortable seats; one ?banquette? was no more than a stained plank of wood. The floor is unfinished concrete! And a little more imagination in the choice of lighting and artwork would not go amiss. There is not a trace of sound-proofing, so chattering noise is amplified by a single air-conditioning duct that emits a loud whooshing sound every time the wretched unit clicks on. Lets say such ?ambiance? does not exactly stimulate one?s appetite. I have always considered this utilitarian approach both false economy and unnecessary reverse-ostentation. At least put a carpet down! Despite this I would recommend Rue Cler for a quick lunch. I look forward to trying it for an evening repast soon.
Do Not Trust the Fixed Menu Posted Online – My husband and I are new to Durham and we have been pleased at the selection of restaurants in a town this size, and we had heard nothing but praise for Rue Cler. Two days before dining I checked the restaurant's website and got very excited, I was really looking forward to the fixed menu featuring a pork belly and apple tart and fish stew! It was incredibly disappointing to arrive and find out the fixed menu was different from the one posted online. I checked the following morning and the online menu was still inaccurate, so this may be an ongoing issue. Our dinner was average - vichyssoise, a salad with goat cheese, shrimp and parsnips, lamb chop and monkfish - even if I had anticipated these choices for the fixed menu I would have been unimpressed. I think if a restaurant advertises a fixed menu and posts it online, it needs to be accurate.
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