Roux – April 2015 (dt)
7.21 – 7.7, 7.25, 7.25, 7.25, 7, 7, 7

Take a pinch of Rustic, add a dash of American, toss a smidgen of Strip Mall and we found ourselves at Roux, nestled in Slingerlands’s Vista Technology Park. Self-described as Rustic American Cuisine, Roux provided a pleasant surprise, or maybe not a surprise, especially after the Teators had “scouted” during a lunch ride a couple months ago. And a Greenville connection is satisfying also.
          The menu lists about 20 small plates, appetizers, soups, or salads; about five burgers; and finishes with about ten entrées—not a big menu but it covers a wide range.
          After two white-linened wire bowls of large-slice homemade bread arrived, accompanied by ramekins of oil and of olive tapenade, we settled into the salad/appetizer/small plate selections:

==> House Salad: mixed greens with roasted apple and candied pine nuts (Ken: a good salad)
Caesar Salad: romaine greens, white anchovies, Gouda cheese and chili croutons (Chay: another good Caesar)
Yellow Beet Salad: pumpkin vinaigrette, goat cheese, crisped sage, candied walnuts (Deb T: excellent)
Beef Won Ton special, on greens: (Don: a savory crispiness; Deb K: very good, would have enjoyed one more)
Homemade Macaroni & Cheese, with Parmesan crust (Kriss: could have made a compact meal, very good, shared with several
==> Beef & Vegetable Soup (Kerry: very good & hearty, lots of carrots and potatoes, good meat)

The entrée list also included chicken, fish & chips, Bolognese, pork loin, lamb shank, and the pan roast winter vegetables (Chay’s second choice, perhaps), but we chose among the rest:
==> Pan Seared Salmon: Wild Rice Pilaf, Caramelized Fennel and Grilled Orange with Red Pepper Coulis (Kerry: excellent, subbed mashed potatoes for the rice)
==> Jambalaya: Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Bell Peppers and Onions Over Rice (Don: good, a bit milder and whiter than expected, with a hint of heat; Deb K: very good, expected another type)
==> Braised Beef Short Rib: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Beef Gravy and Glazed Carrots (Chay: very good; Kriss (excellent, meat fell apart)
==> NY Strip: Mashed potatoes, quick braised Swiss chard, demi glaze (Ken: subbed out the mashed sweet potatoes; good steak)
==> Scallops special (Deb T: excellent)

The table wavered about dessert but caved when Don ordered.
==> double layer chocolate cake, dip of ice cream (Don & Deb shared: a moist, semi-dense, melt-in-mouth cake, with fudge-like icing, one of the best chocolate desserts in a couple years)
==> blueberry bread pudding (Chay and Deb share): very good
==> chocolate peanut butter mousse, with whipped cream (Kriss: very good, more than she should have ordered, Don’s taste was very good; Kerry: excellent)

The drinks order included two diet sodas, a water, and a bottle each of 10 Span 2012 Pinot Noir and Jekel 2012 Pinot Noir, both reasonable food matches and an interesting side-by-side comparison.

Service by Cassie was excellent. She fielded all our questions, and Ken’s (!), with aplomb and a smile. Delivery was smooth, water glasses were filled regularly, she learned Ken’s need for black coffee well, and was within sight when we needed something. Our early question about switching entrée accompaniments was answered professionally and with good customer service. A good representation for Roux. Thanks, Cassie.

Ambiance: Roux advertises itself as Rustic American, a phrase that the Times-Union reviewer mused about in quite a favorable review a couple months back.
          The entry way leads directly to the greeter’s dais and, after a check of reservations, we sauntered to our table of eight.
          The restaurant is divided visually in half not only by a modern-esque lattice of wine rack cubes but also by two different decorating schemes. The right side sported a traditional dining area with two rows of five or six four-person dark wood tables, beige walls decorated with wood and metal work, a dark brown ceiling, and the oxymoronic tasteful yet effective recessed lighting.
          The left side is anchored by a slightly sinuous bar, lined with a dozen sturdy stools, with an overhang that waves the same pattern as the bar, with a half-dozen 1970s-era-but-now-modern suspended lights. Ringing the bar area are a dozen two- or four-person high-tables with sporty high stools, all of them with a view of the mostly-glass east wall that invites looking skyward. (Later, we found the outside grill on a patio that will beckon many for the next several months.)
          Our table lay ten feet beyond the right hand side, in a set-aside area. The kitchen door set almost out of sight on Kerry’s end—not obtrusive, but close enough to hear an accident or two. We were fortunate for our placement because the noise level of the dining room certainly ebbed in our space. So, most of the time, the far ends of the table could hear each other.
          The faux dark-brown wood tables were set with a maroon linened service of a quality knife and two forks, and centered with a votive candle and current-style salt and pepper shakers.
          Water glasses arrived minutes after we sat, with the bread baskets perhaps within the ten minute mark. The menu is a simple one sheet. The wine list presented one of our first chances to see a price list of a three ounce glass, the full glass, and the bottle price—something we did not take advantage of but the Teators had previously on their scouting trip.
          And just beyond us was an almost ensconced room that could hold twenty, perhaps for meetings, but for more seating this evening. And the new modern bathrooms lay just across from this room.
          Roux exemplifies a fusion of styles that was comfortable and entertaining.
          Pacing was comfortable, running about two hours, with no big holes (perhaps, a couple long minutes waiting for dessert), and no feeling of being rushed.
          The bill, including tax, tip, drinks, came to $120 per couple.

The Teators hosted the pre-session, the first Teator-turn since June of last year. Awaiting the guests were ramekins of broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and celery, accompanied by dip; a cheese platter and a hummus bowl, paired with pita chips and crackers; warm pizza squares; and a small plate of meatball halves in a marinara sauce. A bottle of a Cabernet Sauvignon, a bottle of a white Priorat, Kriss’s private white zin collection, a Trader Joe Belgian beer for Chay, and water kept the thirsts slaked.
          The big topic was the return of the Monteverds and everything Florida: their winter stay, who came to visit, looking at another place, connections with the Karneses’ trip, catching up with Northeast snowbirds, trips, and having too much to do. We would not listen to their suggestions they had cool days. Welcome back, Ken and Kriss; it was a joy to have you back.
          Other topics included: Kerry’s welcome presence; Julie’s absence (making for a dinner party of seven); the upcoming Teator trip with the Adamses to Italy for almost four weeks, health issues of people we know, relationships, CD school stuff, Julie’s schedule, work in Catskill, possible summer plans, a very cool few days – just in time for the Monteverdean return, the meaning of Roux, the Moms’ health, our children’s whereabouts, a wedding and wondering, Ken’s instigation of risqué comments, Chay’s whereabouts, and more.