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Rue Cler Restaurant - 26 Reviews - 401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC - Restaurants Reviews - Phone (919) 682-8844

Rue Cler Restaurant

401 E Chapel Hill St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 682-8844
Incorrect info? Correct your listing

Main categories:

Bakeries , Restaurants

Related categories:

Food & Dining


( 12 )
( 2 )
( 5 )
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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--ta...


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 cha...

Editorial review from Citysearch 5/8/2013

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. more

Snobby, unwelcoming, rude. 3/4/2012

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. more

Time up 10/9/2011

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. more

Could use some work 7/14/2010

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. \r \r 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.\r \r 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. Pros: Varied menu Cons: Menu truly is in French with no translations more

most disappointing 2/13/2010

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 Pros: easy parking Cons: service, food, more

Thoroughly Enjoyed!! 8/20/2009

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. Pros: Unique atmosphere, helpful staff, great menu variety Cons: Not a lot of seating, menu online not always to date more

What is everyone else ordering? 7/9/2009

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. Pros: ? Cons: Bad food, rude service more

good food for any meal 3/10/2009

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. more

Quick good value lunch 5/16/2008

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. more

Do Not Trust the Fixed Menu Posted Online 3/22/2008

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. Pros: Nice ambience, prompt service Cons: Wrong menu posted online, very large and distracting television in bar area more

To those that don't know 3/18/2008

While I have seen reviews for Rue Cler from good, bad, and ugly I must confess that those who don't know just don't know. In this day an age $25 for a 3 course meal is unheard of. Go to San Fran, NYC, or Toronto and you will not find the same food for twice the price. For those that said they had to wait to be seated: what would you expect at a place that is popular? The owners took a chance and built a place in downtown Durham close to where one of the top ten restaurants in the country is established - Magnolia (I have spent a lot more there than I have ever at RC). RC is the type of place that if you get to know the staff, it is the go-to place for a nice evening. Whenever I go to a new neighborhood type restaurant I try to sit at the bar and get to know the help. We did and it paid off dearly. The first night we ate there, Cameron (Cam) gave us a sample of farm fresh eggs to take home. The next time we went there with the kids he looked after us like long lost friends. For V-Day he made sure we were looked after with a special bottle of wine. So to those haters out there, learn some restaurant rules on how to dine at a local place, and what is good and/or bad before putting the place on a pedestal of what it is not. Pros: see notes Cons: see notes more

Excellent Food - Arrogant management - Inconsistent policies 2/13/2008

I've lived in France for several years and in other parts of Europe. Over the years I developed a love of French and Belgium cooking. Rue Cler's menu, while not extensive, has some excellent French dishes. There Moules and Frites are some of the best I've had. My wife and I particularily enjoy going there for lunch.\r Now the problem. The management appears arrogant and/or incompetent. Their web site says no reservations. Last year, this time-on Valentines Day, we arrived for dinner and was told that reservations were required. I referenced their no reservation policy and indicated that I had driven from Raleigh, and pleaded. We were given a seat in the bakery. We enjoyed our meal. Last Friday we ate lunch at Rue Cler. As usual, the food was good. There was no mention, at the restaurant, to make reservations for this years Valentines Day. I did call over the weekend and left a voicemail requesting a reservation. I left two calls requesting a reservation for 4 people at 7PM. No calls were returned. I continued calling, and on Tuesday finally the phone was answered. I was informed that they had a poor message service ( voicemail?????) and that the message was never relayed to them. Reservations were required and that they would not be able to accomodate me.\r Rue Cler has the potential for being a great rerasonably prices restaurant. There menu could be expanded and their management needs to be a lot more attuned to their customers. Running ""their business"" should be tending to customers instead of sitting at the bar and working on a PC. Greeting customers as guests would also be a novel idea. A consistent policy on reservations is a must and responding to email and voicemail is not only a courtesy but is good business.\r Rue Cler management can run their business any way they want - obviously, but I don't intend to subject myself to this type of treatment regardless of how much I enjoy their food. Pros: good food reasonable price Cons: arrogant management, inconsistent policies, poor communication more

excellent brunch! 12/29/2007

I'll admit I'm not a French food expert, but for a small bistro in Durham, Rue Cler is wonderful. The ambience is a great blend of modern lines and raw materials. We went here by mistake after Piedmont down the street turned us away on Easter Sunday. We lucked out by eating brunch at Rue Cler. They have the most divine hot beignets. I have eaten brunch there several times since, and everyone has been extremely pleased with what they ordered. Our service has always been fairly attentive, but nothing to write home about. I have yet to eat dinner there, but the carry-out croque monsieur from their bakery front was good. more

Faux-French, Pricey 12/19/2007

After my first visit to this restaurant, I emailed some feedback to the owners of Rue Cler. They never replied. Here are a few excerpts: \r [...]\r My friend, ordered the crab croquettes and the porc confit and I had the steak frites. The croquettes were filled with mayonnaise in excessive proportions. If you are going to put caper in the croquettes, it should appear in the menu or at least the waiter/waitress should mention it! Although caper is used in French cuisine, it is almost a rule that it should be mentioned in the name of the recipes such as in ""Aile de raie aux capres""... Neither of us cared for the appetizer after the first bite.\r [...]\r Another faux-pas on the menu, the description of the pork confit reads as if it were served with a tartelette on the side. We were taken aback by the seemingly complex yet unsophisticated tartelette. The soft flavor of the confit vanished completely as it was covered by the heavy butter crust of the tartelette. Harmonizing meat and crust isn't unheard of but this kind of culinary pirouette is usually better accomplished with a pate feuilletee such as in the ""bouchee a la reine"". \r \r A word on service. The website said that we wouldn't find ""snobby waiters"" at Rue Cler. That's fine with us since we don't like snobby waiters either. That said we appreciate being helped by waiters who have some education about the food that they serve. Gentle manners don't hurt either. \r \r Being French I feel offended by the interpretation that Rue Cler makes of ""the passion for French food & wine"" (website). No French cook would combine ingredients in the same disastrous combinations as you attempted or else they would go bankrupt. I thought that rue Cler would be the place to enjoy a fine dinner. [...] I have yet to be convinced. Pros: downtown durham, large room, somewhat convivial Cons: food, service, price, TV more

A feast of flavor! 11/27/2007

This little bistro gem is spectacular! I have now been several times for brunch, lunch and dinner, and I have never been disappointed. The dinner prix fixe menu changes frequently, and each new dish is a delight. You can tell that the chefs truly love what they are doing and invest a lot of creative energy in preparing the menu. The servers also do an excellent job of making the French menu and wine list accessible to the layman. I appreciate a restaurant that doesn't overload your plate with an unnecessary excess of food. The portions on the prix fixe menu are just right and leave you feeling pleasantly satisfied rather than uncomfortably full. I feel that $25 is more than a fair price for three delicious and unique dishes. At any other restaurant of this caliber, you would have to pay as much or more for one plate! And if you really do want more food, you can always order the larger, and equally wonderful, a la carte dishes. Also, this restaurant does not appear to take reservations, but they seem amenable to calling ahead. Despite the fact that they are always busy, I have never had to wait for more than 15 minutes for a table. I could give glowing reviews about Rue Cler all day, but the fact of the matter is, the experience speaks for itself. No frills. No hassle. No pretentiousness. Just great food and great service in an easygoing, wine-drinking atmosphere. Pros: Great menu that changes frequently, excellent wine, and the amazing lunch duck crepe! Cons: A Rue Cler addiction may lead to weight gain and an increase in alcohol consumption more

I guess I expected more 10/31/2007

My friends and I do an ""ethnic dinner night"" once a month and try a different restaurant in the triangle area. One of my friends knew the owner, we had reservations, and we still had to wait 45 minutes to get a table. Blah! It's extremely noisy in there with the super high ceilings, so conversation among 10 people was extremely difficult! \r \r The food was ok. For $25 for a dinner, I guess I just expected more...both in portion (yeh, I know it's French sized portions), and in quality. I just wasn't impressed. I thought more seasoning or sauces would've been used. The food was a little on the bland side. \r \r As far as French food goes, I think Bloomsbury Bistro is better than Rue Cler. Pros: Great interior, flavored sodas, dessert! Cons: price, quality of food, noise level, long wait more

Great for a weekend brunch/lunch 10/29/2007

Rue Cler is one of my favorite restaurants in Durham. We go here about once a month. The bread they serve when you first sit down is awesome! For lunch, I recommend the Croque Monsieur with pommes frites on the side and the Beignets (french doughnuts), if you can get them before they run out. On the con side, they keep the dining room very cold so bring a sweater (even in summer). Sunday tends to be busier than Saturday for brunch/lunch. I have not tried the dinner menu. Pros: bread, food, service Cons: dining room temperature more

Not very accomodating 10/19/2007

Five of us went to Rue Cler for lunch. They were quite busy. We were seated promptly but waited 20 minutes for our order to be taken. My glass of wine, which cost $8.00 was a very low pour. At the end of the meal we asked for the checks to be separated, which should not have been very difficult, as three of us ordered the exact same thing. The server said he was too busy. Another five minutes for separate checks would not have been a bother as the lunch was apparently a long one anyways. Overall they were not very accomodating to a group, even though small. more

Great Staff and Food 10/10/2007

so, I have eaten brunch, lunch, and dinner at this wonderful establishment and cannot seem to get a bad meal. The staff is friendly and attentive, the food is very delicious, and the menu is not overwhelmingly large. Everything I've had has been great, but some of my favorites are The Moules frites and the steak frites with eggs. They also have great mimosas that will seal the deal if you're a brunch goer that likes to have some cocktails. Great spot, great atmosphere, just wonderful all around. I try to go back several times a month. more

Wonderful food and service! 7/22/2007

Since moving here three years ago from New York, Rue Cler is the first restaurant I've found that has a really interesting menu. I had a memorable lunch there, consisting of thin slices of perfectly grilled salmon over a bed of haricots vert and cubed potatoes, topped with Bearnaise sauce and accompanied by a glass of excellent Champagne. Simply divine! The service was friendly and professional, and the entire check came to about $22. In a great restaurant in York, it would have been at least twice that much. more
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Menu for Rue Cler Restaurant

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  • In Short
    Growing cultural and historic setting, fine French dishes, combine well with a casual Southern comfort that is both inviting and sophisticated. Tartlets, coq au vin and grilled...

  • 3/20/2007 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Hours:

    Sat-Sun: 10am-2pm, Mon-Fri: 11:30am-2pm
  • Payments:

    Master Card, American Express, Visa
  • Neighborhoods:

    City Center, Downtown