Roux Carré—the three year-old “food incubator” at 2000 Oretha Castle Haley—has an all new roster of incubatees, so I decided to check them out and report back. The idea behind Roux Carré is to give burgeoning restaurateurs, who might otherwise not have access to the capital usually associated with starting a business, a space to grow and try out their restaurants in a real world setting. I’m eschewing ratings this time around because it seems unfair to judge folks who are literally just starting out too harshly. Just a note: I went there several times, and for the most part, it was really chill, but I also made the mistake of going on a night where there was a very loud and overwhelmingly funky Christian band playing. If that’s your thing, no judgement—but a good date night it was not. When they first came on, my dining companion leaned over to me and said, “Is this a church song?” And I said, “WHAT?” because it was so loud that I could barely hear anything. And yeah, it was a church song. All the subsequent music was inspirational in some fashion, including one very odd disco jam about the evils of alcoholism… in a place that was actively selling alcohol. So, you know, just be warned.
Queen Trini Lisa
I kept meaning to go to Queen Trini Lisa when they were in the back of Hank’s Meat Market on St. Claude, but I never made it over. So I was pretty stoked to see that they’re at Roux Carré now. I ordered the jerk chicken with rice and beans, the curry chicken, and both the mild and spicy doubles. The doubles are the clear winner; they’re like little sandwiches made of a curried chickpea mixture served in a fried flatbread. They’re so homey and comforting. I mean, it’s deep fried bread! What’s not to love? The mild and spicy versions taste exactly the same, though—so much so that I wondered if I’d accidentally just ordered two of the mild. So I went back and ordered just the spicy. And yep, they’re the same, and not at all spicy, at least in terms of heat. On to the chicken! The curry chicken was head-and-shoulders above the jerk. Much like the doubles, the curried chicken had a very homemade vibe. The curry is quite mild and pleasingly savory without any real heat. She did give me a little container of her signature hot sauce, which added a touch of piquancy, but again, it wasn’t overwhelming. The jerk chicken was the only dish that left me cold; I just couldn’t get into the flavor, but I now know not to order that in the future.
Alma has gotten a lot of press recently and was the main reason I wandered over to Roux Carré. Honduran food that I don’t have to drive to Kenner for? Yes please! I ordered two baleadas (the vegetarian and the pulled pork), yuca con chicharron, and a pork and egg sandwich. As I mentioned in my review of Casa Honduras (January 2018), baleadas are my you-can-only-eat-one-food-forever scenario pick. I love them so much. A giant tortilla filled with stuff? Heaven. These were not exactly what I was expecting. The vegetarian baleada was fine, but it was also not what I would consider a baleada, proper; it was more like an upscale avocado taco. And let me tell you, if you love microgreens, this is the place for you, because they are on everything! The pulled pork baleada was too salty for my taste. Sadly, the only flavor I got was salt. The pork and egg sandwich was basically the pulled pork baleada but served as an open face sandwich with a runny egg on top. It was totally impossible to eat as a sandwich; it was too bulky and messy, which is a personal pet peeve. If something can’t actually work as a sandwich, just put it in a bowl and give me toast on the side. The yuca con chicharron was probably the closest tasting thing to traditional Honduran food, but even that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The whole dish was smothered in a sharp curtido of pickled onions and red cabbage (I’m actually just guessing what the curtido was made of… it was red and just tasted like vinegar. I’m assuming there was something off in the brine or that it was over-pickled) and the ever-ubiquitous microgreens. The actual chicharron was quite good, but it was barely there and seemed like an afterthought, and the yuca was tough. What gives? I think my dissatisfaction with Alma is on me: I went into it expecting Honduran comfort food, but that’s not what they’re serving, and it’s not fair for me to blame them for my expectations. Authenticity in food isn’t something I necessarily need (keep reading to hear about my love of the irreverent and illogical naan pizza), but Honduran food might be too close to my heart for me to accept this fancier fusion version.
KD’s NOLA Treats
KD’s NOLA Treats is an all-dessert spot, but they also have yogurt parfaits. Seems weird, but whatever. I leaned in and got the yogurt parfait, a mini blueberry cheesecake, and a bread pudding. The yogurt parfait is really good! The fruits were fresh and I’m assuming the granola was house-made. It would make a great breakfast, but I’m not sure it works as a dessert. The mini blueberry cheesecake tasted exactly like you’d expect a cheesecake to taste, so it was fine. The bread pudding had a nice heft and density to it, but wasn’t as sweet as I thought it was going to be. The lack of sweetness actually worked in its favor; it lacked the saccharine artificiality that I’ve experienced with some restaurant bread puddings in the past. I definitely want to go back to try one of the pie à la mode options.
Local Menu has the most puzzling name, but is easily my favorite of all the vendors. We ordered the taco fries, the naan pizza, and three types of chicken and waffle sliders: jerk, sweet, and Thai. Taco fries are fun! The fries are long, skinny curly-Q’s topped with black beans, cilantro, avocado, cherry tomatoes, corn, onions, red cabbage, and a house-made sour cream. Who knew you could throw a bunch of healthy stuff on french fries and have it taste good? The naan pizza is utterly nonsensical: naan, chicken, barbecue sauce, kale, and apples—WTF food at its finest. Like obviously, this isn’t pizza, but it’s still great, and now I can say that I’ve eaten apples with barbecue sauce! Y’all, it works. You just have to trust me and try it. The chicken and waffle sliders are genius and I’m honestly flummoxed that I haven’t seen this idea pop up on a menu elsewhere. You get a quarter of a waffle with a chicken tender on top. The sweet was my favorite; it’s the classic syrup on waffle concept. And yes, maybe I am basic, because I really did like the simplest one best. The sauce on the Thai slider reminded me a lot of the Sriracha cane syrup from Biscuits and Buns on Banks, and was a close runner-up to the sweet. I didn’t care for the jerk at all, although one of my dining companions firmly disagreed, and it was his favorite. Y’all, is it possible that I don’t like jerk chicken? I feel like I do, but since I wasn’t crazy about this jerk slider or the jerk chicken from Queen Trini Lisa, I’m wondering if I need to make a trip back over to Boswell’s on Tulane to confirm. I remember being a fan, but what if I’ve been living with a jerk chicken delusion all these years?!
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