Spectacular Creole Food at Fremont's Roux
What do you do when you take on the shell of a 72-year-old dive bar? If you’re Matthew Lewis, owner of Where Ya At Matt food truck, you use it to reinvent your mobile Creole mecca. After a long search for a brick-and-mortar location, Lewis opened Roux (4201 N Fremont Ave.; 206.547.5420; restaurantroux.com) in the old Buckaroo Tavern space in upper Fremont last November. “It has a soul, and that’s…the feel of New Orleans,” says Lewis, who hired Mike Robertshaw (of Local 360) to run his kitchen. And even though some have called it shenanigans to add chicken to gumbo (there are a lot of ways to do Creole food, Lewis reminds me), the food here is spectacular. Start with the addicting crispy pig ear, which is dried before fried and tossed with a blue cheese sauce. The jalapeño cheddar hush puppies are the best I’ve had—moist, pillowy and a tad sweet with honey and lemon. The shell-on grilled shrimp are outshined by the soufflé-like grits they adorn. Same with the jambalaya: The spicy and hearty mash-up of house-made smoky andouille sausage, chicken and chewy rice relegate the shrimp to garnish status. A must is the craveable fried rabbit saddle, which teeters on a pile of potato salad. The food is more daring and refined than the truck’s, yet fans will be put at ease with familiar dishes, the no-frills open kitchen decor and rows of barstools that lay witness to affable food slingers. Roux has helped jet-rocket the area into a respite for consistently good, accessible food that’s not too expensive. Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily.