Feb 05 2013

First Take: Vin Rouge for Classic French Cafe Fare

Front of Vin Rouge in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

Way out on Ninth Street in Durham, after all the casual sandwich and pizza eateries you’ll find two restaurants sharing a parking lot, Blu Seafood and Vin Rouge.  As two of the fancier restaurants on the strip, both of these spots are Durham classics and I finally got in to try Vin Rouge for a quick meal.  From the outside Vin Rouge is a bit bland: bright yellow awning, dim lighting and gravel parking lot.  Step inside and you’ll be hit with wonderful smells coming out of the open kitchen.  You’ll immediately notice a crowded cafe like space with a small hostess stand right out in front.  I grabbed a seat at the classic bar in the main dining room, there looks to be two other dining rooms in the back and on the side of Vin Rouge but I wasn’t able to check them out.  Vin Rouge has a warm continental feel to the space albeit a bit cramped. The menu is in the $15 – $30 entree range which means it’s a touch above-average in price but that’s not unusual for French food.   I ordered up the classic steak frites, hangar steak version.


Steak frites at Vin Rouge in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

Fifteen minutes later I get a large oval platter with a heaping pile of crispy fried, greens and a small strip of steak charred well-done.  A nice balanced meal of veggies, carbs and protein with an emphasis on quality over quantity.  The fries were excellent, heavily salted and crispy but a great side.  The steak was a bit chewy and cooked medium-well as I ordered, I’m good with chewy because hanger steak is not about a soft texture, it’s all about taste-texture and this small steak had plenty!  Paired with a light bleu cheese sauce, it made for a nice flavorful meal.  Service at the bar was excellent, Vin Rouge is very well-staffed and trained but since they’ve been around for a while, I’d expect that to be the case.  Overall Vin Rouge struck me as a very traditional, classic French bistro and I’d like to come back for a full meal in one of the side rooms.  One concern I do have is the open kitchen which is great from a visual perspective but the main dining room picks up all the odors coming from the kitchen!  Not a bad thing but it skews your taste a bit given your smell and taste are connected.  But yeah, a nice bon appetit to Vin Rouge and I’ll be back!


Vin Rouge
2010 Hillsborough Road
Durham, NC 27705

Menu at Vin Rouge
Location on Google maps
Vin Rouge on Urbanspoon

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