I have a friend whose identity I will not divulge other than to say that his name rhymes with "Hintage Fourleens." Anyway, this friend recently asked me for a restaurant recommendation, and I suggested Rue 127. "Yeah, I have always heard good things about that place," he said, "but I can't get past the tag line of a 'New American Bistro.' What does that even mean? It just sounds generic to me."
Putting aside the fact that this is the same guy whose own ignorance prevented him from eating at The Green Goddess until I convinced him that it was not a vegetarian restaurant, my friend had a valid point. I struggled to define exactly what this cottage on Carrollton is all about. They serve steamed mussels and onion soup gratinée, but it's not really French. There's gumbo on the menu, but this is not a place to come for trout meuniere and shrimp remoulade. And you are as likely to order Italian staples such as creamy risotto and house made pastas as you are to dine on an augmented version of Cajun coush coush.
|Spring Vegetable Salad.|
Seasonal ingredients drive the selection of salads. A few weeks ago, I started with an excellent spring salad featuring fava beans, beefsteak tomatoes, frisee, and thin, wide, ribbons of squash all drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette. The careful attention to weave the contrasting textures and flavors of the vegetables was very Kelleresque, as was the coarse salt sprinkled across the top of the ramekin of butter included with bread service. I have never tasted the mussels appetizer, but I have had the pleasure of the parmesan dusted pommes frites (ask for a cone a la carte), which are crispy, creamy and addictive. Creamy seafood risotto was thick enough to serve on a plate (in a good way), and the stock had a nice background flavor of the sea. Gumbo has a dark, thin roux and is served with a scoop of horseradish potato salad. The only disappointment in the starter category has been the pasta carbonara. The thin spaghetti was housemade but must have been dried for storage, because the texture was on the crunchy side of al dente. Smoky lardon added plenty of richness and salt, but the slow poached egg yolk never really came together with the cheese for a sauce.
|Double Cut Pork Chop.|
Not to be overshadowed was a ribeye glistening with richness in a way that it appeared almost lacquered in beef fat. No starches served alongside, but instead a much better accompaniment of roasted bone marrow scooped with a demitasse spoon and slathered on grilled bread. Puppy drum was cooked perfectly and placed in a sweet and sour orange and grapefruit broth that was addicting; the poblano pepper aspect was lost on me, and the sauce was so good that I didn’t even try the mussels. Lamb loin had an intense, gamey flavor, while a crock of mac and cheese was homely and straight forward.
|Sticky Toffee Pudding.|
Chef-Owner Ray Gruezke has put together a front of the house staff which is both very young and eager to please, though not very polished, which fits the location and the vibe of the restaurant. A
To answer my friend's original question, I can't exactly describe what a "New American Bistro" is. But if you are concerned more with what's on the plate than with the words on a website, you will soon discover that "New American Bistro" - at least in the case of Rue 127 - is synonymous with delicious.
Rue 127 - Birdie
127 N. Carrollton Ave.
Lunch: Tue-Fri: 11:30am -2:00pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat: 5:00pm - 10:00pm