Roux is a stylish suburban restaurant that is working hard. There are many bright spots, including the bar, which was in demand during our visit, and the desserts, which are homemade and well chosen.
Roux dominates the end of the newly constructed strip mall in the Vista Technology Campus at Route 85; its inviting patio overlooks parking and a grassy knoll.
It’s sleek and shiny, with metallic paints, wood chairs and fittings, and a groovy ceiling that relieves the rectangular layout. One side is a dining area; at the corner, the bar has high tables and excellent lofty windows. Pleasant jazzy horns drowned out sports on three screens.
We had a view of blue sky and fluffy white clouds as we watched the clientele’s clothing change over the course of the evening from shorts and flip-flops to black dresses and suits. The uncomplicated menu is similarly split between casual and fine dine.
WHERE: 10 Vista Boulevard, Slingerlands. 487-4358, www.rouxny.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday.
HOW MUCH: $64, before tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu. Wheelchair accessible. Reservations accepted.
The braised lamb shank, jambalaya and beef short ribs fit the “rustic American cuisine” description that Roux touts, and employing small plates ($3 to $5) you could assemble an eclectic meal. There are burgers (starting at $10 including fries) and appetizers like mussels or crab cake (both $10).
Entrees, from the winter-themed menu encompass roasted vegetables ($16), grilled pork loin, and New York strip steak (10-ounce, $26), include bread.
Roux serves locally baked bread with small metal cups of house-made seasoned butter and tapenade. The chopped parsley in the butter led us to expect garlic and salt, but its bright lemon peel was not suited to quality Italian bread.
Husband Eric started with a handsome Caesar salad, a bargain at $8, of chopped Romaine piled high and topped with crispy honey-colored crouton chips and shaved aged Gouda. “I just had an anchovy,” he told me, happily, and added, “It’s delicious.”
The soup of the day ($4) was chicken with rice, a good fresh broth with white rice, carrot matchsticks and celery that it would have been better without the squares of ordinary grilled chicken.
Our second course was brought out too soon and Eric had to hold onto his plate. “Want the last bite?” the server asked. She wasn’t going anywhere even though we clearly were “still working,” as they put it, on the first. The service was uncoordinated more than rushed, though.
Eric likes an appetizer for a main course, and Roux’s shrimp risotto ($8) was wonderful, with chubby shrimp pieces and parsley-specked rice piled high in an oval baking dish, a perfect small meal, especially for someone who has his eye on dessert. Just enough garlic, he said, as he polished it off.
I figured the herb roasted chicken ($18) would be representative of rustic fare, and roast chicken is a good measure of a kitchen’s capability. Roux’s is an enormous boneless half-breast and a thigh, flattened and browned. The scrap of skin left on the thigh was crispy and flavorful, and the seasoning blend was inspired. There was good flavor in the dark meat but the white requires more attention and finesse; perhaps it is too mild for this treatment.
This dish is pretty: herb-speckled browned chicken served over orange mashed sweet potato ringed with maple syrup and topped with a mound of perfectly dressed arugula, but the syrup didn’t do quite enough to sweeten the potatoes.
Roux gets points for dessert. The warm blueberry bread pudding ($8) pleased Eric with its melting scoop of vanilla ice cream and blueberry sauce and the smooth cream cheese cake ($8) with tangy strawberry and fruit compote was a winner as well.
There were many bright spots in our evening at Roux, and the few problems with service can be easily ameliorated as the restaurant finds its legs. The tab for food, before tax and tip, came to $64.