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Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...

This entry is part of a series, Restaurants»

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This restaurant is closed.

I took my troubles down to Mama Roux –
You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth –
She’s got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine,
Sellin’ giant dishes of Love Potion Number Nine…

This is the way Lieber and Stoller would have written the song, had they known about Michael and Yoli Amr’s current Cajun restaurant. Unfortunately, Mama Roux wasn’t around back then. Or is it fortunately? For us, I mean…

The beauteous Paula Jo called me late on Thursday and wanted to know what her personal chef had made for dinner. I had sturggled through a Fairly Bad Day (can’t say Really Bad Day; I’ve had those before, this wasn’t one of them. But it wasn’t pretty either) and told her I didn’t feel like cooking and would she maybe consider dining out? Or I could call someplace and she could pick it up on the way home.

She said, “How ’bout Cajun?” I shuddered, thinking about all the seafood choices. Then I remembered the good eats and fun times I’d had in early December in New Orleans and reconsidered. “Sure,” I said, tentatively.

PJ must have caught on that I wasn’t gung-ho on the idea. So she didn’t press and began to name other options. I said no, let’s give it a try. Where, though; that’s the rub. Mama Roux, she said. It’s right on her way home, after all. And only a few minutes from the house. I bundled up and headed out into the cold wind in hopes of some hot and spicy eats.

I wasn’t disappointed either!

Red Beans and Rice

I’ve read a lot of reviews about this place since our visit, and many say “best Lousiana food in Austin” and the like. Me, I have to admit I don’t know but one other place in the area that claims to have Cajun/Creole cooking, and it’s way too pricey for us. (it’s good though; I may have to review it soon.) When we went to Mama Roux, though, everything was a surprise to me. Good surprises. I even agree that those other reviews may have it right…

The storefront isn’t fancy, and the location is a simple strip mall near a Wal-Mart. Okay, I thought, I like places that are everyday, not putting on airs. Inside, the young lady greeting the early seating was chatting with a patron about a takeout order, so we had time to look around. Nice, but again, not especially fancy. Some nice dark wood tones, solid and well-maintained furniture, clean and tidy. With lots of good noises and great smells coming from the kitchen.

Because of the layout, you could see into most of the kitchen. That area looked clean and proper too. With lots of activity already, although it was early in the evening and the shop wasn’t half-full yet. The walkway to the seating area gives you a great panorama of the cooking in progress, and the aromas were making me Very Hungry.

We had our pick of seating, not something that’s true all the time there, as we saw while we dined. There’s only one seating area, and it will handle about 60 friendly patrons in cozy fashion. (Hint: If the weather’s really cold, don’t take the table by the window. Unless the only option is to wait, of course.)

Battling Mudbugs and Beer

I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink —
I didn’t know if it was day or night;
I started kissin’ everything in sight —

Noah, our server, stopped by and asked about drinks. We’d looked over the imbibables menu and hadn’t found anything we really wanted, although the wine selection looked passable. (Not enough Texas wines overall, but I’m partial. At least they feature Becker Vineyard’s products.) We told him we were noobs, our first time in Mama’s, and his eyes lit up. He promised us a good dining experience, and he’d see that we were taken care of in a special way. Starting with drinks. As in adult beverages, not merely tea or sodas.

Paula Jo chose simply water. I asked about Abita, since that’s Louisiana’s national beer. Noah brought me a schooner-sized bottle of Golden and an ice-cold glass. Wonderful! Things were moving along nicely.

The menu at Mama Roux is not extensive, and the majority of dishes are fish and seafood. Classic Louisiana there! Also, many dishes are prepared in blackened style. There are plenty of other choices, though, like Salmon Le Roux: A salmon steak wrapped with prosciutto and baked, topped with crawfish. Or Tilapia Almondine (pan-fried, with capers, almonds and shrimp on top), or Chicken Tenderloins. Enough beef, chicken and pork to satisfy the seafood-challenged (like me).

Several pasta dishes are available, including Rick’s Pasta (crawdads and shrimp in garlic butter; yum!) and Shrimp, Crawfish & Andouille in Mornay sauce. Sides include the requisite dirty rice, red beans and rice, and other veggies and potatoes.

PJ chose shrimp etouffee after conferring with Noah about the crab. Seems prices are pretty high for good crab these days. Shrimp, though, are plentiful! So she smiled and ordered. At first I thought I’d try the chicken and sausage gumbo and a steak, but then I changed my minde. I had the pork tenderloin, which comes with Tasso ham sauce. If there’s anything in the running with bacon for making things taste better, it’s Tasso. I could hardly wait.

Grilled Steak

When our order came out I was surprised that Noah brought it all by his lonesome. He made two trips, though; the etouffee first, then my hunk o’ pig. I’m sure he violated some OSHA regulation somehow; that plate surely qualified as a two-man carry! Boy, was that a big chunk of protein. Well prepared and juicy, which can sometimes be a problem with large pieces of white-meat pork. If you get the outside done right, the inside can be dry. This meat was faultless, with a nice, blackened rub coating. The Tasso ham sauce provided a smoky complement to the seared loin, and the garlic smashed potatoes matched well too. Comfort food Cajun style, and muy plentiful too.

PJ enjoyed her dish, but she kept glancing over to see what kind of progress I was making. I got through it all, somehow, while Paula gave up early and took some of her food home. (Leftover lunch at work!)

I then found out why Paula had quit early: She left some room for dessert. After briefly considering Mama Roux’s signature Tabasco Cheese Cake, we opted instead for Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. This confection was warm and gooey, with ice cream and plenty of fruit, all swimming in caramel rum butter sauce. Sadly, we couldn’t quite finish it. We’ll go back some evening just for appetizers and desserts, one of our favorite ways to close out a night on the town.

I didn’t know if it was day or night —
I started kissin’ everything in sight;
I had so much fun that I’m goin’ back again!
I wonder what happens with Love Potion Number Ten…

Mama Roux New Orleans Style Café, 13000 N I-35, Austin, TX 78753. Phone 512.490.1304 Open for Lunch, Tuesday-Friday, and Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations not required.

Mama Roux on Urbanspoon

Enjoy the (Cajun Food of Love) Heat!

Entries in this series:
  1. Cool River Café and Southwestern Poblano Soup
  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
  33. Does Kung Fu Buffet Lives Up to Its Name? My Sample Says…
  34. The Underground Visits Ethiopia for Dinner (and Has a Wonderful Time)
  35. Pho Lee Vietnamese, It’s Total-Lee Pho (and Very Good)
  36. A Taste of Jalisco in North Austin
  37. The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale
  38. From New Pho to Old: Lunch at a (Nearly) Forgotten Friend, Tan My
  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
  47. Karrrazy, Man: Kublai Khan Crazy Mongolian Stir Fry
  48. VooDoo BBQ & Grill: Their HooDoo’s Pretty Good, Actually
  49. My Fit Foods: Tasty, Healthy Food, Ready in a Flash
  50. Chang Thai, Our Family’s New Favorite
  51. A Quick Trip to Agra, Without Leaving Home
  52. Playing With Your Food (and Your Mom Would Approve): Shabu Hot Pot & Noodle Bar
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