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Review: Rue Dumaine in Dayton

 Andrew Hall
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The quick version : French bistro, competently done. Would go reasonably often if it was close, but not worth a special trip. Somehow the fact that there is a Beard Award-winning chef about 75 miles from Columbus totally escapes the notice of the supposed restaurant review person at the Dispatch.

Anne Kearney is an Ohio native. She migrated to NoLa, worked for Emeril and then had her own restaurant, Peristyle, which was a top restaurant in NoLa. I can speak to that from personal experience. The restaurant survived a fire and she ended up selling it in 2004. Moved back to Ohio and started a farm. In late 2007, she opened Rue Dumaine in Dayton. More bistro-casual than Peristyle was, we somehow just haven’t gotten around to going until now.

We ate dinner there last night. The location is pure contemporary Dayton – a strip mall and near a Sam’s Club. Simple interior, open kitchen in the back. The menu is straight bistro – steak frites, mussels, charcuterie, etc.

One must have is Anne’s Vin d’Orange. This is an aperitif made from macerating oranges with wine, spirits and spices for a goodly time. Missed this so much from NoLa and my recreations have never had the je-ne-sais-quoi.

Appetizers were frog legs, chicken terrine, pissaldiere. Frog legs were lightly batter and fried and served w/ a herby mayo. Done well enough. I guess I should have realized that ‘crispy’ on the menu would mean deep-fried as I wanted more gratin style. Terrine was executed fine, but also bland. Pissaldiere was done well.

Mains were grilled lamb loin, duck confit and steak frites. We also got wilted greens, cornmeal cakes and haricot verte. Nothing was particularly special and nothing was bad. Not a lot more to say on that.

Nice cheese plate with a well-chosen quartet of American artisanal cheeses.

Desserts were very good. The chocolate gelato with chocolate chunks was really well-balanced and pure without being too sweet. Chocolate hazelnut cake was fine, but the hazelnut honeycomb with it was way good. Special of the night was an orange-buttermilk pudding cake which was really good. The only ‘eh’ was the almond cake.

Not a deep wine list, but some nice wines at all levels.

Overall, Rue Dumaine does a fine job at what it does. Problem is that I can do most of what it does better/most personally at home. If we lived near, I could see going often as there is a great advantage to everyone being able to choose something different. It is a niche that just isn’t filled at all in Columbus.


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