Opening June 22 at 1005 SE Ankeny St., Rue is a chic new restaurant by chef Jason Roberts, known for his sold-out, San Diego-based Boxcar pop-ups and his commitment to working with family-owned farms. At Rue, the clean lines of the dining room are met by clean flavors of vegetable-forward dishes, but then, if you walk to the rear dining room, there's Burt Reynolds, naked—the picture hanging above the kitchen's expediting window. Maybe Rue, which bills itself as a "French neo-bistro," has some tricks up its sleeve?
For two years, Roberts served as culinary director of Chino Farms, a renowned farm outside of San Diego, and speaking with Eater, he says this is where he learned to respect vegetables and the families that grow them. At Rue, Roberts may be able to stand out from Portland's crowded arena of seasonal, vegetable-forward restaurants by making his dishes affordable—but Roberts also has a knack for transforming humble ingredients with surprising herbs and flowers.
"This dish started out all about the beans from Ayers Creek," says Roberts, describing an assuming bowl of stewed beans from local Ayers Creek Farm topped with eggplant puree and seasoned with marigold leaves and other herbs. "The beans taste so good on their own, but I wanted the dish to reflect the flavors of summer. Sungold tomatoes are perfect right now, and eggplant is just getting started."
To keep the beans from being overpowered, Roberts aerated the eggplant puree and made a water from the tomatoes. The backbone of the dishes is finishing herbs from Black Sheep Farm. "It's just beans, tomatoes, eggplant, and herbs," says Roberts, "but instead of being a boring bean dish, it's pretty exciting."
Rue has released a few potential dishes you may find on the menu tomorrow: ricotta dumplings in "potato broth" with fava leaves; Dungeness crab with aioli and young chicories; mackerel with toasted bread, turnips, and tarragon; pigeon with beets, lime, and spring herbs; and fromage blanc semifreddo with rhubarb and charred berries. Additionally, prepare for cocktails and a budget-friendly wine program by Jon Lewis, formerly of Taylor Railworks.
Starting June 22, Rue will be open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m.