December 2008 Issue
It’s safe to say that few restaurants that have opened in the Dayton area in recent years have gotten the kind of buzz that attended Rue Dumaine. And once diners started making hard-to-get reservations, they discovered what all the anticipation was for: This is a restaurant that definitely has the goods.
The wife-husband team of Anne Kearney-Sand and Thomas Sand Jr. seem unruffled by all the attention; after all, Peristyle, the New Orleans restaurant they owned before moving back home to the Dayton area, had been widely acclaimed. What they’ve introduced to southwest Ohio diners is an intriguing mixture of cool, unhurried professionalism and a deep, abiding passion for food, flavors and ingredients.
The dining room’s low light and warm earth tones create a French-bistro sort of atmosphere that is understated and quieter than the tinny boisterousness that characterizes most American restaurants anymore. The kitchen, meanwhile, is open and can be seen in steady operation from anywhere in the restaurant. What emerges from it is a combination of French-American tastes that borrows and trades on the best of both with elegance and finesse.
Appetizers — on the menu as “La Petite Cuisine” — range from the familiar with a whimsical touch, such as mussels steamed with saffron and served with pommes frites on the side, to the downright exotic — duck rillette crepes with red-onion marmalade and Pinot Noir gastrique, a light and fanciful dish, or oysters cooked with baby spinach and leeks, poached in Pernod and topped off with apple-wood-smoked bacon.
For entrees (“Les Grands Plats”), the touch with duck that Kearney shows with the crepes extends to a marvelous duck confit with French lentil ragout and wilted spinach. Lamb loin is served with Yukon-goat cheese galette and olive-lemon relish, while short ribs are braised in chardonnay.
The trout amandine arrives pan-seared and perfect. A chicken selection was pan-seared as well, with cauliflower cake, zucchini julienne and a notation on the menu that the corn on the plate was “last of the local season.” Kearney has studied local produce with an expert, enthusiastic eye and delights in using what she can buy from the area.
A week’s worth of daily specials are listed on the Rue Dumaine Web site — giving loyal patrons something to look forward to and plan around.