Rue Cler, the bustling restaurant, bakery and café, seems to be clicking on all cylinders now, and I am terrifically pleased with the steady overall improvement of this downtown Durham bistro. Last month's prix fixe, three-course, $30 menu was not only beautifully prepared - culinarily and visually - but the portions were copious. (So much so that we had absolutely no room for dessert.) Notable was a frisée salad with duck confit, cornmeal fried onions and currants cooked in honey and red wine. This adventurous opener was original and delicious, with the fresh currants an inspired ingredient. The gnocchi gratiné were soft and tender, with a minimum of flour used. All six elements that my wife and I ordered were inventive and subtle. The service from Whitney, who also teaches the 4th grade, was attentive and kind, but not a bit overbearing.
The wine list is short but very well chosen. It is entirely, with the exception of a Port, French. The corkage fee is $20.
I love how easy it is to use the Internet to check out a dining prospect. One can peruse the menu, check the hours, get directions, and make a reservation. (I'm sure restaurant owners love not having to constantly answer the telephone as well.) But, as with most innovations, there's a down side, and I think it's the responsibility of owners to make sure their establishment's online information is correct. It's frustrating to spend time perusing a restaurant's online wine list, weighing the advantages of vintage and region, only to get to the table and find that the bottle is no longer available. Wine and food match-ups go out the window and it starts the evening under a cloud. This is a plea to all caring restauranteurs; either stay abreast of your wine list, or, please, don't post one at all.