by Eric Ginsburg

If all goes according to plan, there will be a new, modern French restaurant across from the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro before the end of next month, where Shucka’s and Dirty Ernie’s Raw Bar used to be before the place sat vacant.

Thirty-year old Trey Bell has spent half his life working in restaurants up and down the Eastern Seaboard, including a stint at the Greensboro County Club and nine months as the executive sous chef for Marshall Free House, helping the restaurant get off the ground. After working in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and New York, Bell moved to Greensboro for his wife’s job as the director of operations for an equestrian boarding facility in Summerfield.

And now he’s breaking out on his own, as the head chef and owner of LaRue, a progressive French restaurant at 313 S. Greene St.

Bell hopes to open in the relatively small space — which also includes a patio — in mid-March.

“It’s a very intimate space,” he said. “It’s a smaller place, but I like that. It promotes energy.”

Practically everything on the menu will be gluten free, and he’s planning to serve a wide assortment of vegetarian and vegan options. The fare will be traditional French food with his Southern twist, like substituting ramps for leeks or swapping in local fish.

Bell forages for edibles along the riding trails where his wife works, collecting mushrooms and greens that will provide additional flavor compounds and nuance to his dishes, he said.

The restaurant will be built for speed, Bell said, so people can dip in for a bite before catching an event at the Carolina Theatre. Main courses of pork, beef, duck, seafood and other dishes will come in relatively small portions that would be appropriate for a couple to split three plates, he said. Or, patrons can upgrade to a slightly larger size and consume it on their own.

The menu will change monthly, Bell said, and there will be recommended beer, wine and cocktail pairings for each main course. He’s planning to offer six liquor infusions at any given time, and with the ability to seat 18 at the bar, it isn’t surprising that Bell plans to emphasize the restaurant’s beverage component.

Everything will be finished and plated in front of diners after being started in a separate upstairs kitchen. That openness and a level of optional interaction between the chef and customers will add a feel almost like a sushi bar, Bell said.

Renovations on the space are already underway, and LaRue will feature as much repurposed material as possible, Bell said. He’s also excited about the adjoining patio, which is an impressive 1,000 square feet.

Eventually, Bell plans to add a lunch menu but will start by focusing on dinner. He also intends to use specials and tasting menus to add flare to the relatively traditional French normal menu.

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