One of our new favorite places is Vin Rouge in Durham. I know, as usual, it took us awhile to ‘discover’ it even after all the wonderful press and reviews. But, recently we have been there for dinner three times which is quite frequent for us to re-visit a place. Our first experience with Vin Rouge was brunch a little over a year ago. While our bunch meals were good, we weren’t wowed and weren’t feeling compelled to go back for dinner. But, with all of the great great buzz on the place we finally tried it again for dinner in February and had a wonderful experience and have been back a few times since!
Vin Rouge is on at the corner of 9th and Hillsborough in Durham right next to Blu Seafood (which I have yet to try!). The space is wonderful with a huge outdoor seating area which is covered by a yellow awning. There is also a garden seating area on the side of the restaurant The inside space is divided into three smaller intimate spaces. The first is the area you walk into with an open prep area and a bar as well as a few tables. The two other rooms of seating are off of this room to the back and the right. All the spaces are decorated simply with deep red walls covered with framed photos and linen covered table clothes. It definitely has an ‘old-world’ European feel.
The French menu has several of the bistro classics such as Steak Frites, Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée (French Onion Soup), Escargot, and Salade Nicoise. In our few trips we have tried several of the dishes and all are just delicious! The escargot are wonderful and served in a rich garlic, basil sauce which you must clean up with a piece of bread. The steak was perfectly cooked and served with crispy thin addictive fries. From the regular menu we have also tried the Tartiflettle for Two, which is incredible! It is a decadent potato gratin with nice chunks of lardon and onion. While the regular menu items are wonderful, I will say that the daily specials stand out. One one visit G had a braised lamb shoulder which was delectable! The meat was fall off the bone tender and full of flavor from the braising liquids. On a more recent visit, I enjoyed the creamy and satisfying butternut squash risotto special for dinner. My only complaint about the food would be that the portions are actually quite big and given how rich most of the dishes are it is impossible to actually finish a dinner portion. In fact, on our recent visits I have opted for two appetizers so that I have room for dessert. And, believe me, you want to save room for dessert; Vin Rouge serves the most incredible chocolate mousse! When you order this they bring out a huge tureen and dish out three generous scoops. It is simple, rich, and completely indulgent!
On all of our visits the service has been unpretentious and friendly. On our most recent visit, we were celebrating a friend’s birthday and we hadn’t mentioned this to our waitress however, she had overheard our discussion and brought out our friends dessert with a candle! For an all around wonderful dining experience Vin Rouge has become one of our new favorites!
2010 Hillsborough Road
Durham, NC 27705