I had a great meal at Roux Soup Bar and Café yesterday. Not only was the food great, the experience was sort of an adventure. That’s because I took my parents to lunch at the new restaurant, which is located on the fifth floor of the Buffalo News building at One News Plaza. Upon entering, we signed in at the security desk, which my mom got an absolute kick out of. Since signing in for lunch was a first for all of us, we let the unusual occurrence set the tone for the rest of our outing – a bit of fun and games with my folks, while exploring an unfamiliar culinary destination.
After we signed in, we headed for the elevator, which took us up to the fifth floor. From there we headed off to the left, where we encountered a relic of sorts. It was a Buffalo Evening News front cover that dated back 100 years. Each morning a “new” paper is put under the glass display case so that passersby can see what was taking place in the region and the world 100 years ago, to the day.
It’s a pretty cool gimmick that made us feel like we were on a bit of a field trip. And we were on a field trip for the most part. It’s not everyday that one gets to stroll around the Buffalo News building, checking out the operation from above.
I say “above” because the fifth floor overlooks the fourth floor, where a number of the offices surround a lush green atrium that rises up two stories (where a series of skylights are found). In the middle of winter, the atrium is a welcome oasis for anyone who visits. The other welcome attraction is Roux Soup Bar and Café, which is owned and operated by Jason and Amy Davidson of Magnolia Events (Marcy Casino, Liberty Hound). For as long as I can remember, I can recall Jason talking about his dream to open a New Orleans inspired restaurant in the city. You see, Jason spent most of his 20s in New Orleans, which is where much of his culinary passions derived.
Not to say that Roux is overly creole. Quite the opposite, although Jason has certainly added a cajun flair that can be seen with his assortment of po’ boys, the seafood gumbo, and of course the restaurant’s name. Simply put, its the nucleus of the dish. Because of Jason’s pride when it comes to his affinity for Cajun cooking, I opted to try the seafood gumbo and the shrimp po’ boy (Cajun all day). Both dishes were fabulous. The soup had deep, smoky tones with lots of “good ol’ N’awlins spirit”, as Jason puts it. It was the perfect pick me up for a brisk, breezy day at Canalside.
The shrimp po’ boy was outrageous, served on a French roll that was rather large, but easy to eat due to its freshness. I added some Frank’s hot sauce to the Creole creation, which Jason said was completely acceptable. In fact, Jason has already ordered a more traditional hot sauce that should arrive any day (for the purists). I can’t believe how much I actually missed eating this type of food, and it brought back fond memories of Rendezvous on Niagara Street. I was happy that Jason was able to find a staff that was able to fulfill his vision.
It was the salad bar that caught the attention of my mom, who looked like a kid in a candy shop as she explored all of the build-it-yourself offerings. Halfway through her meal, she exclaimed that it was the best salad that she had eaten in a long time. She was crazy about the wine, vinegar and lemon salad dressing, which she said was very light and flavorful (one tablespoon sufficed).
My dad tried the turkey and brie po’ boy. The telltale way to identify if he likes something or not is the pervasive silence as he eats, which is exactly what we got at the table. It wasn’t until he had finished his meal that we even got the perfunctory, “What?” (with eyes darting back and forth between the two of us).
Not only was the food at Roux a hit with all of us, we had a lot of fun mixing and mingling with some of The News’ staff that we ran into. I’ll tell you one thing. The fact that The News has opened its building to the rest of the world is extremely admirable, especially in tandem with all of the other progressive milestones taking place at Canalside. Come spring, if/when Jason gets his beer and wine license, the sprawling patios that wrap around the fifth floor of the building will be the place to be. Summer sun, a cool beer and watching the antics below will definitely be a popular pastime. Even the interior of the restaurant is neat, in its own corporate way. I love the wood grid ceiling with strips of light running through it. Of course the views are pretty awesome too. The historic images that dot the walls are also noteworthy.
As for the restaurant’s routine, diners can serve their own soups and salads cafeteria style, and/or they can order from the kitchen. It’s an efficient system that speaks to Jason’s time spent in the business. “After selling Waterline Café and Fables Café, and then when we opened Liberty Hound, I would run into my old customers often,” Jason explained. “They would always ask me, “When are you going to open another café? We really miss your fantastic soups!” I didn’t have any plans of opening anything new until I saw the space that was available in the Buffalo News building and immediately fell in love with it.
“It’s a great facility with amazing views of Canalside and HarborCenter. After opening Liberty Hound I just fell in love with this area, and I want to continue to grow my business as Canalside grows. My son is a little older now, so my wife Amy and I thought it was time to jump right back in with a new concept… and why not name it after him – Jackson Roux Davidson. The name Roux is a New Orleans culinary term for “Fat and Flour” slowly cooked with lots of patience and love – the same traits that it takes to raise a child, make a soup and grow a business.”
Roux Soup Bar and Café | One News Plaza | Buffalo News Building | Fifth Floor | RouxBuffalo.com | 716.849.4593