A few years ago, my husband and I were in downtown Durham attending the Fullframe Documentary Festival and decided to get lunch between movies. Back then, there were not a whole lot of choices of places to eat, but I had heard that a new French restaurant had opened called Rue Cler. We ordered a couple of crepes to go and they were fabulous.
Fast forward to 2013. My friends and I were thinking of where we could eat lunch and I suggested Rue Cler. Boy, am I happy we decided to eat there! I must admit that with the flurry of new establishments opening in downtown Durham, I had kind of overlooked Rue Cler. I’m glad I remembered to go back and try it again.
The place itself is small, but has an industrial feel to it with concrete floors, exposed duct work, and a wall that looks somewhat like wine crates. The only problem with the space is the noise bounces around a bit too much. It was hard to hear my friends when they were speaking.
We were lucky to be seated right away and served water, but it took the waiter quite awhile to come back to our table to take our order, but it was worth the wait. We ordered a dozen beignets to start our meal. Wow, were they good! They were warm and soft in the center and had a nice, crispy crust and were dusted in just the right amount of powdered sugar. My friend, Tom, said it reminded him of when his grandmother used to make fresh donuts each day.
Tom ordered the Turkey Mornay, which was a turkey, bacon, tomato sandwich with toasted bread and a Mornay sauce on top. ( Mornay is a white sauce with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese) It came with a light salad of mixed greens and an oil and vinegar dressing. He said on a scale of one to ten, this sandwich, and the rest of the meal was a ten!
My other friend, Katherine, had the Croque Monsieur, which is a fancy way to say a ham and cheese sandwich. But, this sandwich, served open face, had a rich, Gruyere cheese and was covered with the Mornay sauce. Her sandwich was also served with the same green salad. She absolutely loved her sandwich as well and not a drop was left.
I had the crepe with duck confit, spinach and fried potatoes. The duck was succulent, yet lean, cooked perfectly well. The crispy bites of thinly chopped potatoes were a perfect compliment to the duck and the spinach made me feel less guilty about eating the duck! I would highly recommend this dish. It also had the side green salad.
Since we are all watching our weight, we decided to forgo dessert, but I was sure tempted to try the creme brulee. I am sure it is delightful, but it will have to wait for another trip sometime. I also learned that the restaurant serves a 3-course pre-fix menu for dinner for just $30 a person. Not a bad deal for a nice French restaurant! Perhaps a dinner date with my hubby will have to be in the picture sometime soon.
Rue Cler is located at 401 East Chapel Hill Street, in downtown Durham. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30am – 2pm, and for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday 5:30pm – 9:00pm and Friday & Saturday 5:30pm – 10:00pm. Rue Cler also serves brunch on Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 2pm. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.