UPDATE: Rue closed January 2018
Rue is a new French-inspired bistro in Portland, Oregon serving vegetable-forward dishes and refreshing cocktails.
It was the end of a long, harried June day. It was warm, I wasn’t sold on the outfit I threw on to switch from work-at-home-with-children-time to pretend-to-be-an-adult-time, and I was running late.
I am always late. (Apologies in advance).
Heading to an address in inner Southeast Ankeny Street, still-warm memories bubbled up on my drive over: old dive bars, $5 concerts at nearby La Luna (the indisputable best Portland concert venue ever. EVER. Don’t argue with me on this, you won’t win.), and trying to find parking to go to said concerts at La Luna.
But as I parked on Burnside and walked toward Rue, the location choice became clearer: there’s so much going on in this part of inner Southeast, on Burnside now… and, something in the air whispered that there will be more to come. Rue, perhaps, is just the beginning of more modern changes afoot.
Rue is a French-inspired bistro located on the south-facing corner of Ankeny and 10th Avenue. The two perpendicular walls are almost all windows, giving this smaller corner lot a bright, open feeling.
There are 65 seats total in the space, with a large bar that spans almost the length of the dining area.
It’s there that Bar Manager John Lewis greeted me and my late, in-need-of-a-cocktail self the way every person walking up to a bar on a hot summer day should be greeted: with a glass of summery rosé.
The cocktail program at Rue compliments the food menu with inventive, herbaceous cocktails. My Urban Bliss Life Pick: the Reagan Smash ($10), the gorgeous pink drink in the above photo. Made with campari, bourbon, and lemon, this is a refreshing, slightly sweet cocktail that doesn’t muddle the palate so you can fully enjoy the care and attention that Executive Chef/Owner Jason Roberts gives to the food.
The wine list is a lovely combination of Pacific Northwest and French favorites.
Open only for dinner, Rue’s menu consists of several small plates, ranging from $8 to $17 each, that are meant to be shared.
Roberts cultivated a strong respect for organic farming and farmers working as Chef-Farm Liaison at Chino Farms for two years before opening up his popular Boxcar Pop-Up series in Los Angeles, California, serving vegetable-forward California Cuisine.
Each dish Roberts has developed for Rue unfolds like a dramatic play on plate; he allows the unique strengths of individual ingredients to shine while also supporting and lifting up fellow plate players. Dishes are beautiful, complex, and delicate yet satisfying. Vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike will be heartily satisfied here. I’d suggest ordering 3-4 small plates per couple for a full dinner.
My favorite dish by far is the stunning Lavender Roasted Carrots ($11) pictured above. Roasted in a sultry, delicious brown butter, manchego cheese, and chrysanthemum, I found the dish intriguing and lovely. The crunch and the smoothness of this dish all at once is happy dance inducing (even if you’re just doing a happy dance in your head, quietly).
While the menu may change based on availability of ingredients, since Roberts works closely with local farms that provide fresh ingredients, here’s a look at a few other items I enjoyed during this visit.
Oil Cured Sardines, Radishes, Herbs ($10) – I believe these are now served with crostini, but again, details of each dish may change.
Trout Tartare, Cucumber, Smoked Almond. This was delicious and is not on the current menu, although if you’re itching for trout, there is a Smoked Trout ($12) dish currently on the menu that is served with haricot vert, tarragon, aioli.
This dish of Ayers Creek Beans, Eggplant, and Marigold was a smooth compilation of flavors and textures. I don’t even like eggplant, but I loved this!
After sampling several dishes and enjoying a few drinks (spread throughout the night), I walked out of Rue feeling so much lighter and calmer, definitely full, and absolutely happy. I have high hopes for Rue, and for the continued, hopefully positive growth of the inner southeast section south of Burnside, and I can’t wait to go back. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Rue for large groups, because space is limited (although you can make reservations), and it wouldn’t be my first choice to take the whole family with picky kid eaters in tow. However, it is a formidable new date night and girls’ night out spot to consider in Portland’s busy restaurant scene.
1005 SE Ankeny Street
Portland, OR 97214
Open for Dinner
Which dish shown above would you love to try?
I attended a friends & family night with other food bloggers and enjoyed complimentary food during this visit. As always, all opinions and photos are my own. I only publish reviews of places I truly enjoyed and places I think you will enjoy, too!