I had wanted to go to Roux ever since it opened since Southern food is one of my many weaknesses. The last time I tried to go to this restaurant, it was snowing and we ended up at Toulouse Petit as a compromise. Some of the same crew from Toulouse are now at Roux, which makes sense given that both have a focus on Southern and Cajun food. However, they are completely different when it comes to nuances and taste. Whereas Toulouse is a crowd pleaser with an extensive menu, Roux elevates everything to the next level. Toulouse is a bar where people go to see and be seen, and Roux is similarly packed on a Saturday night, but the bar here is also part of the kitchen.
We had the best seats in the house, right next to chef Michael Robertshaw, and watched everyone work their magic on delicious looking dishes all night long. The only drawback of sitting next to the kitchen is that everything looks so good and you want to try ALL OF IT! I guess that just means we have come back to try the rest of the dishes. We ordered:
jalapeno hush puppies: drizzled with honey, these are honestly the best hush puppies in town and I’ve had them at every restaurant that serves them… They weren’t too dense or too dry, which is often the problem with over-fried hush puppies. But these were so amazing, with just the slightest hint of spiciness and plenty of honey to give a nice balance of flavors.
Bacon marmalade deviled eggs: the Black Knight loves deviled eggs, so he couldn’t pass them up and he loved them. Nearly soft boiled and a little smoky, they were a perfect bites.
Fried chicken gizzards: so I can never resist skipping the half pound of fried gizzards at Ezells, and let’s say that while Ezell’s may be chewy, crunchy, and flavorful, these had a light crunch with a much more delicate batter (almost tempura like) and aren’t chewy at all (amazingly – and here I thought gizzards were supposed to be chewy).
Jambalaya with shrimp, chicken, and sausage: get ready to peel your own shrimp with head attached, which look so beautiful (or horrifying, depending on your stance on seafood with eyeballs) sitting atop the red rice. Get your hands dirty – it’s well worth it for a few bites of sweet shrimp. This is a sufficiently spicy jambalaya infused with peppers and a hearty helping of sausage.
Scallops with foie gras carrot emulsion and ramps: on special for the weekend, flown in from Rhode Island, this was the absolute highlight of the dinner and we could not stop raving about it. Perfectly cooked scallops, tender and sweet, enhanced by the sweetness of the carrot emulsion with the richness of the foie. The foie flavor isn’t strong, but it gives the scallops another dimension and just enough hint of foie that you want to lick the sauce off the plate. Even the greens contributed to the harmony of flavors in this dish (and I normally avoid the bitter veggies), so compliments to chef Michael on this one. Extraordinary!
Beignets covered in powered sugar: yes! this is how to you make real beignets! 2 inch square fluffy pillows hidden under a pile of powered sugar! Warm and fluffy, these are simple, but so good for dessert. They don’t seem oily or heavy; just a snow covered pillow of fried goodness. 🙂
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Roux. We sat there for two dinner rushes mesmerized by the kitchen and ate so much good food. I’ve been looking for a place that serves southern food that I can keep going back to and loving, and this is it. The Black Knight was wondering where it’s been his whole life (they’ve only been open since August 2013). Frog legs, shrimp and grits, and fried rabbit saddle are on the list for next time.
Overall: happily ever after
Highlights: hush puppies, scallops, beignets
Footnotes: get there early, they only take reservations for parties over 6; sit at the kitchen counter to watch the magic