Recently, I read an article that explained the science of neurogastronomy. Basically, studies reveal that we all taste food in standard ways; however, the flavors we experience are unique because flavor is comprised of taste and place—where you eat can affect flavor. When my colleagues and I ate at Rue Dumaine, the flavor of the French Provençal food was welcoming. I felt a sense of being home.
Anne Kearney, chef and proprietor, explains that this effect was driven by her motto, “Food of Love,” and because she welcomes diners into her home of sorts. Indeed, the day we dined she walked around the restaurant, greeted guests, and shuttled plates, all the while making sure everyone was satisfied.
Rue Dumaine combines Kearney’s childhood and adult homes. Kearney came of age in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she worked in a variety of restaurants and ultimately landed in her own, Peristyle. Yet, just after she earned a James Beard award for Best Chef, Southeast Region, she was pulled back to her Ohio home and began farming on three acres of her family’s farm in Lebanon.
So when I first heard that Rue Dumaine was on the cusp of changing its structure of service from a 6-day-a-week restaurant, I feared she’d traded her chef whites for overalls and a tractor, going full farmer. Not to worry—by serving a fixed number of people from a simplified menu, Kearney has simply transitioned her service into opening a few days a month for prix fixe meals, pop-up dinners, and special events.
Rue Dumaine is the name of the road where Peristyle was located; I am thankful Anne’s road landed in the nearby Miami Valley – because there’s no place like home.