Roux, the New Orleans-inspired North Portland restaurant I’ve been jonesing for, is worthy. I just got back from a great time and meal there with my friend Matt Kaplan and his wife Gerry. For the first time, I had duck leg; for the first time, I had collard greens; for the first time, I had reservations to be sure we’d have a place to sit in the first place! And it was a good place to have those firsts: These are all good; in fact, the meal was excellent. I was surprised and intrigued at how much the duck reminded me of light pork of all things; and Matt and Gerry were nice enough to give me bites of their entrées, her short ribs (cooked to perfect falling-off-the-bone tenderness) and his cornbread-stuffed rabbit (good rabbit, great bread).
(I wasn’t a gracious enough host to offer them bites of my duck. Damn it! ;-)
I picked up the two of them at their home, making sure the car I was driving was plenty warm (we have wind chills in the teens tonight, yo!), and made a quick trip to North Killingsworth – two blocks away where Steph and Paul used to live, by the way – and into Roux. We were extra-early, so we went to the bar. I got to see pictures of their recent vacation in Mexico and the Caribbean, including Jamaica and Mayan ruins on the Mexican shore; I never knew until tonight that the Mayans had lived on the ocean.
Matt and Gerry are the ones moving to Hawaii, though they’ve changed destinations: Hilo instead of Maui, as they feel it’ll be easier to buy a home on the bigger island. They will have a bed for visitors. Like me. I will get to Hawaii to see them. Oh yes I will.
I’m not a restaurant critic – I’ve had no experience doing those for any publication! – but I’ve joined the people who’ve been impressed by Roux since it opened in October. I’ve sent articles about the place to Poppy Z. Brite (docbrite), because the story of the place reminds me superficially of her novels and stories about Rickey and G-Man opening the New Orleans restaurant Liquor. I hope she’s gotten those clippings. But I digress. It’s a good place where good people make good food; simple as that. Expensive, but worth it. Matt wants to go back for a brunch (which I’m sure would make Poppy cringe, but perhaps Roux can do a brunch that even Poppy would appreciate). And everyone we met there was friendly. No exaggeration; every one.
Oh, and one especially good sign that the place was thoughtfully designed: I needed to go to the bathroom, and saw first one restroom occupied, then another. Then a server said, “That one’s open,” and she pointed to a third restroom to the left of the other two. Nice.
After that, we walked back to the car – so cold that I was shaking by the time I got behind the wheel! – and ran it for a couple of minutes to warm up the inside as well as the engine. Then I got Matt and Gerry home, and then got myself home.
Tomorrow I brave the Columbia Gorge winds and visit White Salmon, Washington, right north of Mt. Hood. Time to see my Danish family members again!