Don't be fooled by the strip mall exterior; Rue Dumaine is a modern-American, fine-dining treat created by James Beard award-winning chef Anne Kearney and her husband, Tom Sand. Anne turns out seasonal delicacies and accessible French fare from an open kitchen skirting the back of a graceful dining room. Her restaurant is named after the street in New Orleans where she and her husband once ran the renowned Peristyle. Family ties pulled the duo back to Dayton a few years ago, and with Rue Dumaine, they've re-created their favorite snippets of the South.
Behind a bar handmade out of walnut and designed by Tom, bartenders shake signature cocktails such as the Last Word, a concoction of gin, cherry liquor, Green Chartreuse and lime juice, and make no apologies about spending precious minutes hand-crushing ice with a mallet for a "frozen" drink. Dinner here takes time and a reservation; weekends find the place filled to capacity, with little room for walk-ins. But the high prices and wait time reflect a single-minded approach to crafting spectacular food. From a savory, tender cut of venison drizzled with blueberry compote to a chocolate cake topped with a house-made hazelnut honeycomb, the dishes delight. Business has been so good, and the New Orleans-infused food and atmosphere so appealing, the pair are embarking on the next stage of their career: building their own restaurant south of Dayton, which will feature not only Rue Dumaine but also a Southern-style lounge called Alligator Annie's. The new restaurant and lounge are expected to open in 2013.