Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is a ROUX???

FF and I dined on a lovely June evening on the patio at Roux, a new restaurant that opened early this spring located at the end of a strip mall just a hop off 85 onto Vista Boulevard in Slingerlands.  The dining room was dark and welcoming, clean and tastefully decorated, but the outdoors beckoned. Their patio dining area was nicely shaded and protected from the wind by the building. Along with sturdy tables there was an upholstered sectional that looked very cozy and comfortable, but it was occupied when we arrived so I didn't get a chance to try it.  There were already a few guests enjoying the ambiance when we arrived, just before 530 on a Thursday night. Over the next couple of hours it was clear that the outdoor seating area was very popular.

Roux, Rustic American Cuisine in Slingerlands, NY
A cozy bar may be worth a try in hotter or colder weather

A view of the back deck with a view of the parking lot and highway

Service was relaxed, not exactly slow.  FF started with one of their signature cocktails ($10 each), Albany's Manhattan, made with smokey (local!) Ironweed whiskey and topped with one of those bright red dye #2 high fructose corn syrup maraschino cherries which she wouldn't eat. Very nice - not too sweet - just the kind of drink that will make your cheeks pink even sitting in the shade. Especially if you have two, which FF did because I was driving my Zenamobile that night. Trying to stay local I ordered a glass of the Glenora Reisling ($9) from the Finger Lakes region. I have enjoyed this standby many a bottle before - ever so slightly sweet, kind of fruity, very refreshing and good with most anything. Bottles run $26 to $50 each with wines from California, Oregon, South America, NZ and Australia predominating. All were available by the glass except for the champagne, and there are some good choices. A basket of forgettable bread accompanied by a delicious herb butter with lemon zest and a roasted red pepper spread arrived a bit late, but we were happy and talkative and finally got around to ordering our meal. 

Forgettable bread with lovely herb butter and a roasted red pepper spread
We tried to select "Rustic American Cuisine" because that's what Roux advertises. However, I don't think that should include Bolognese, but you can comment on our blog if you think I'm wrong. 

We tried one small plate, the Pork Belly ($3), laced with sage and served with a bourbon syrup. Two bites but very tasty, with just a hint of sage.

A pork belly small plate - tender, greasy and delicious
Then we had a Mac & Cheese appetizer ($8).

Q:  What is a roux? You know, a ROUX, like in the name of the restaurant???

Is it: (one answer only)

A. An attitude
B. A small kangaroo
C. The way Scooby says "you",
D. A base for thickening a sauce, or 
E. Milk mixed with Velveeta cheese.

The correct answer is D, a base for thickening a sauce. You get 5 points. 

If you answered E. Milk mixed with Velveeta cheese, you would be incorrect (B and C are almost right, but no points - sorry). Anyway, believe it or not, THAT'S what Roux's "homemade M&C" was all about. White shells, milky squidgy flavorless liquid, not baked, no real cheese, and topped with panko flakes instead of what was supposed to be a Parmesan crust.  It was down to nothing the worst thing anyone has tried to serve me in a restaurant anywhere ever, and I'm a superhero and the forces of evil are ALWAYS trying to find ways to take me out, so slipping me awful food has been a popular choice over the years, but I digress. 


The Scallop dinner on their new spring menu was also disappointing, and again, not up to what they SAID they were serving. The saffron risotto was bitter and clumped and resembled pilaf more than a creamy risotto. Where did that bitter flavor come from??? The roasted broccoli was steamed and served cold, laced with the usual garlic and red pepper flakes. The scallops (4 medium size pieces) were good, flavored with a gentle citrus glaze, but it was a pretty chintzy serving. This was NOT a $28 entree, but we appreciated that they split the plate for no charge and that the plate was balanced (no need to order a la carte to get them greens).  The Green Goddess green beans ($3) that we ordered on the side were definitely a winner - perfectly cooked, laced with a mayonnaisey dressing and a touch of chili oil. The Green Goddess is a good goddess. 

A shared entree of sea scallops and some Green Goddess green beans
The dessert menu had a nice variety, including cookies and milk to which you could add bacon for $1 extra (rustic American or what!???) - but it was dominated by after dinner drinks. The desserts, we were informed, all are homemade, and the cheesecake is made from Grandmother's recipe. We didn't indulge but their rich temptations looked very good indeed.

Dinner for two (but really could have served one), with TWO cocktails, one glass of wine, one small plate, one side, one appetizer, and one entree, came to $76.68 plus tax and tip. We saved a little bit of money with a Local Flavor of Albany coupon ($15 for $30 worth of food), which is good. In sum, not great food all in all, perhaps a bit overpriced, kind of underwhelming. I think they need to work on what's coming out of the kitchen. Otherwise the space has a lot going for it and the staff were all very friendly and professional. 

And the patio is really a lovely place to hang.  

Zena, Goddess of Fire

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