Monday, September 15, 2014


If you're a longtime reader of this blog, you may recall seeing my dispatches from New Orleans back in May 2011; if so, you'll probably remember that we spent most of the weekend in a po-boy and oyster-fueled digestive stupor. You can understand, then, how excited I was when I heard that the Datz for Foodies (already one of our favorite eateries in town) people were planning to open a second restaurant in South Tampa, this one entirely focused on what they describe as "creole nouvelle" or New Creole cuisine. Setting up shop in the old Wimauma space at 4205 S. MacDill, Roux is a celebration of all things New Orleans gastronomy, with a dash of modern fusion thrown in (for example, the menu includes a ramen dish and a Southern take on the now-ubiquitous charcuterie plate). When the missus and I secured a sitter at the last minute to celebrate our anniversary, I was able to get us a table at Roux despite the fact that they'd just opened two weeks before and were still awash in the resulting buzz. After scrutinizing the menu while sipping pre-meal drinks (an Old Fashioned for Mrs. Hackknife and a rather stiff Sazerac for me) and discovering that we simply wanted just one of everything, we winnowed it down to a half-dozen hay-smoked oysters (served with provencal butter and slabs of grilled Leidenheimer french bread straight from the bakery on Simon Bolivar Ave. in New Orleans) that would have made Rene Redzepi (a hay smoke pioneer) proud. Things got even better when the entrees arrived at the table - Mrs. Hackknife ordered a spectacular Crawfish Monique a la Roux (angel hair pasta topped with tasso ham, Louisiana crawfish meat, a creamy Sauce Monique, and shaved botargo, a nice little Floridian flourish), while I settled in to my two crispy beer-battered quail, each split in half and plopped onto a sweet potato waffle with a Barq's Root Beer reduction (standing in for maple syrup), spicy praline pecans, and a mayhaw coulis (mayhaw is a Southern swamp fruit often used to make jelly). Even though it's often difficult to get much meat off of the small birds (and this was no exception), Roux's version of chicken-and-waffles filtered through a New Orleans lens really hit the mark. Although we were stuffed by now, our waiter managed to convince us that we'd be sinning if we passed on the house bread pudding (served in a cast iron skillet with a small carafe of caramel sauce - I'm sure there was no butter in that), and he was absolutely right. By the looks of it, Datz Inc. has another hit on their hands (by the time we left, the restaurant was overflowing with Saturday evening revelers) and Tampa is starting to embrace a wonderful place where les bons temps rouler all the time...

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