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Southeast Portland’s Rue Cler Wants to Be the Spot for Leisurely Brunches and Grocery Shopping

Named for the famed Parisian market street, the Rue Cler will house a bar, bakery, restaurant, and grocery, with fresh-squeezed juices and salmon Benedict

On the Rue Cler in Paris, vendors sell flowers and crepes out of stalls. Cafes pour lattes and cafe au lait into mugs the size of your head, sipped on outdoor tables with a croissant on the side. Tourists pop into Ladurée for rose-cardamom macarons, while locals shop for groceries at the fromagerie and la Sablaise. Anyone walking down the Rue Cler can find sushi, quiche, ice cream, and bonbons, sold out of shops spilling out onto the street.

When Cindy Hymer first visited the Rue Cler, it was by accident — she was hunting for a cup of coffee in the seventh arrondissement, and stumbled across the market street. It felt so magical, she took out her phone and started filming, capturing all she could. “It was that feeling of this international cohesiveness — there’s a lot of socioeconomic variance here,” she says. “The presentation of the food, the people’s care put into their businesses — they care so much.”

Hymer wanted to capture that lively quality — the abundance, the passion — with her own market, a little piece of the seventh in Portland. So, this spring, she’ll open the Rue Cler on SE Milwaukie, a combination restaurant, bakery, cafe, bar, and market all within the former Laurelwood Public House space.

For Hymer, the Rue Cler isn’t supposed to be exclusively French, the same way Paris isn’t exclusively home to French restaurants: Instead, she’ll incorporate a lot of different cuisines and ingredients into her offerings, from stuffed poblano chiles to salmon Benedicts. The restaurant within the Rue Cler — the Bohemian Embassy — will start with brunch service, pulling from her previous restaurant, Sol Bowl. “It’s Western European with an American twist,” she says. “I’m going to try to share that feeling, that bohemian, expat kind of feeling with people who come in.” Once the Rue Cler is up and running, Hymer will introduce a variety of small plates, as well, often pulling from farmers market produce.

That same farmers market produce will also appear in Rue Cler’s market: Hymer has developed relationships with farmers at the St. Johns and Montavilla markets, who will provide produce to sell in the store. Visitors will be able to buy eggs, dairy, and meats, as well as ready-to-eat and take-and-bake meals. “I don’t want you to walk out with pasta and sundried tomatoes, and nothing else,” she says. “This will be a whole little marketplace.”

At the bakery counter, Marsee Baking will provide patisserie sweets, while Hymer handles savory dishes like quiche. Visitors will also be able to order espresso from the counter in the mornings, or pop in for a glass of wine in the evenings. Hymer is particularly excited about the Rue Cler’s use of fresh juices, from juicer green juices and in-season peach bellinis in the mornings to evening cocktails made with fresh-squeezed citrus. “That element of, ‘Everything is alive as it’s going to you,’ I think that’ll carry into the bar as well,” she says.

The space will open with 40 seats indoors, as well as outdoor seating, intended for those who want to linger over a leisurely lunch, a cup of coffee, or a weekend brunch. “There are not enough beautiful places to sit in the afternoon and bask,” she says. “Someplace where you feel comfortable but you can walk in in a sundress, that’s the space I’m looking for. It’s that Naomi Pomeroy, ‘Let’s hang out and drink champagne and oysters in the afternoon’ kind of thing.”

The Rue Cler should open in the mid-to-late spring at 6716 SE Milwaukie Avenue.

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