Life sometimes has a funny way of reminding us what is really important. In the last two weeks, I have had a huge “wake-up” call and realized that I have completely lost myself in the grueling life of a restaurant manager. For the past 6 months, I have sacrificed my happiness in exchange for sleep deprivation, stress and 80+ hour work weeks. Aside from the obvious, one of the things I have neglected is this blog, which has brought me true happiness and taken me places I never imagined. When I first began to dabble in food blogging, Datz was my biggest inspiration and brought new life back to this homesick Californian who struggled with loving Tampa and longed for her city by the bay. Forever etched in my memory is my first visit to Datz back in early 2010. The decor, the synergy of the staff and the creative food reminded me of the eclectic restaurant scene in San Francisco which captured the heart of this food lover back when I was a young girl. While my heart remains in the San Francisco Bay, my home is now in Tampa and I am forever thankful to Datz for inspiring me to write and igniting my passion for the food scene in my other city by the bay. It is of no surprise that Datz has once again lit a creative fire in my hungry soul with their newest concept, Roux, which is conveniently located 2 miles from my house.
Roux has been open a short time and the fact that I just made it for dinner there a few weeks ago is blasphemy. I pass by Roux on my way home each night and for the last two months have been longing to dine at what many of my friends have referred to as, “Tampa’s hottest new restaurant.” It was only fitting that I happened to have a Thursday night off so that I could go watch my beloved San Jose Sharks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Sorry Lightning fans, this Nor-Cal Gal loves her Sharks!) I was in need of a relaxing cocktail and comfort food to melt my stress away. As a bartender, you can imagine that I was first drawn to the bar, which evokes the feel of classic New Orleans and the glamor of the Crescent City circa the 1940’s.
I was intrigued with the cocktail menu and it was inevitable for me to order a French 75, which consists of Bombay Gin, lemon, champagne and lemon zest. Prior to Roux opening, I attended a few “construction parties” with cocktails and samples from their upcoming menu. Of all the cocktails, I fell in love with the French 75 and it was the perfect way to kick off my decadent night of Creole Nouvelle cuisine and thrilling ice hockey. My friend opted for a Pink Fairy (below) made with Florida Cane Vodka, St. Germaine Elderflower, lime, coconut water and blueberries. She was kind enough to let me have a sip, or two, and as expected, it was exquisite. I am a huge fan of Florida Cane Vodka and love supporting local spirits.
One of the first things that I noticed about Roux, aside from the bar of course, was the scent of garlic and butter that filled the air and instantly took me to my happy place. I knew I was about to experience a life-changing meal and happily obliged when our fantastic server, Steve, suggested their Char-Grilled Oysters. I have never met an oyster I didn’t like and these were no exception. With Romano, Parmesan and lots of Roux Compound Butter, I could not contain myself. Do not get me started on the bread, as I could not stop using it to soak up the glorious melted butter. When dining at Roux, do yourself a favor and order these, you can thank me later.
My partner in crime ordered the Braised Lamb Shank and now I know why we are friends. Not only did she chose one of the entrees I was contemplating, she let steal a few forkfuls of this glorious lamb shank bathed in lamb au jus with creole cream cheese grits and warm absinthe tomato bacon compote. My love for lamb started at a young age, as my dad would often prepare various lamb dishes for holidays such as Christmas and Easter. This would surely knock his socks off, as it did mine.
Shrimp and grits are one of my favorite comfort dishes and since the evening was all about relaxation and indulgence, I already knew what I was ordering before I even looked at the menu. Roux’s Not Your Ordinary Shrimp & Grits are like shrimp & grits on steroids. Colossal, crab-stuffed prawns resting on a fluffy bed of creole-cream cheese grits, my craving was beyond satisfied. My plate was left without even a trace of those ridiculously addictive creole-cream cheese grits. I swear, I could eat those every day.
My other partner in crime enjoyed their Crawfish Étouffée with NOLA crawfish, white rice and grilled Leidenheimer French bread. I did not get a chance to taste his dish, as I was completely enthralled with my luscious shrimp and grits, but much like mine, his plate was completely devoid of any traces of food. Needless to say, we were all deliriously fat and happy.
Roux is an insanely delicious addition to the Tampa Bay dining scene. If you are looking for a cozy night out, look no further. I have already made my reservations for Christmas Eve with two dear friends and can’t think of a better place to celebrate my favorite holiday.
**Disclaimer. My meal was complementary but all opinions are my own.Share this Post[?]