Rue De L'Espoir

So much to savor!

Perhaps the first thing to explain about the Rue's hours is that they represent breakfast, lunch, and dinner times and, on the weekends, brunch and dinner, with a "late lunch" on Sundays. The menu, like the weekly schedule, seems designed for an indecisive Gemini, a genus of which I'm a member. There are "small plates," salads, "eat seriously," and "eat light" categories on the dinner list; another eight categories on the breakfast and brunch menu.

Rue De L'Espoir | 401.751.8890 | Therue.Com | 99 Hope St, Providence | Mon-Thurs, 7:30-11 am, 11:30 am-5 pm, 5-9 pm; Fri, 7:30-11 am, 11:30 am -5 pm, 5-10:30 pm; Sat, 8:30 am-2:30 pm, 5-10:30 pm; Sun, 8:30 am-3 pm, 3-5 pm, 5-9 pm| Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Accessible 

Before we explore these, however, let's take a look around. At some point in the last 20 years, the Rue had a facelift, with touch-ups along the way. But the basic café style has remained: the small paned windows as room dividers echoing the large paned windows across the front and to one side, the pressed tin ceiling, the booths set with white linens for dinner, the rustic red wall panels complemented by buttery yellow walls sections and olive green trim. Fresh flowers are on the table, and a waitress brings around warm crunchy baguette slices from Seven Stars Bakery.

And now back to those dinner choices. The small plates can serve as appetizers or they can act as a meal in themselves, especially filled out with soup, salad, or dessert. Each one has an alluring accompaniment: chicken liver pate with cranberry, black olive and dried cherry chutney; fried calamari with poblano/tomatillo relish and crème fraiche; seared scallops with lemon puree and mango coulis; panko and scallion-crusted tuna with ginger-lime vinaigrette. See what I mean?

There were two small plates that attracted me: the portobello spring rolls and the spinach/mushroom filled ravioli. Since I was assured that they were different mushrooms in these dishes, I ordered both: the spring rolls to start ($10.95) and the ravioli as one of the "Use your noodle" Tuesday specials. This is a selection of five pasta dishes, served with a house salad for $15.99. (The Wednesday "burger and a beer" night and Monday's "Dollar Daze," with $1 apps at the bar, are also very popular "stimulus" offerings in these budget-busting times.)

The spring rolls were fabulous. Finely diced snow peas, carrots, cabbage, and fresh ginger, plus sesame oil and garlic — all spiked the earthy portobellos. The two large rolls were cut in half, and two of those four pieces made a terrific lunch the next day, along with the fruity, gingery dipping sauce.

The four large ravioli were as delectable as the description promised, with smoky gouda and ricotta in their spinach/mushroom filling, surrounded by a fresh fennel tomato sauce. The house salad had a pleasing herb vinaigrette with lots of toasted pumpkin seeds in among the greens, cucumber slices, and carrot curls. Other unusual items among the salads are figs, pistachios, and feta with spring greens, or a roasted salmon salad with asparagus and pea shoots.

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