Nestled inside Forest Park is a repurposed 19th century house that is guarded by a mythical Cajun swamp monster. You can’t miss it.
Named after the fabled shape-shifting werewolf from Cajun folklore, The Rougaroux pays cultural tribute to Cajun and Creole flavor with both its menu and laid-back atmosphere. Restaurant consultant Ed Stacey says the goal of The Rougaroux is pretty simple — to offer authentic Cajun food in a relaxed setting. After working for a seafood distributor and traveling back and forth to New Orleans for nearly five years, Ed decided it was time to bring his “home away from home” a little closer to Birmingham.
“My fiancé and I said that if there was ever a chance and it felt right, that we would open a Cajun-style restaurant here that would focus a little more on the casual side of the cuisine,” says Ed, who popped the question to his fiancé, Anne Carter, in New Orleans not too long ago.
After scoping out the location that would eventually become The Rougaroux, Ed knew he had found the perfect spot. With turn of the century architecture and plenty of outdoor patio space, the location, Ed says, reminded him of a shotgun-style house that might be found on the outskirts of New Orleans. It was exactly what he had in mind when he thought of “his New Orleans.”
“The New Orleans I love is in those type of neighborhoods,” Ed says. “We wanted this to feel like it could be a neighborhood joint — something located in the Bywater.”
The restaurant’s menu, which is crafted by Chef Ryan Champion — who formerly worked at New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace, Birmingham’s Bottega and Avondale’s Hotbox at Parkside — is a tasty testament to New Orleans-style cuisine. Those who frequent the restaurant, Ed says, are already voicing their favorite menu items, like the oysters Rockefeller specialty po’ boy that features fried Gulf oysters, spinach and cheese with bacon lardons thrown in.
In addition to classic gumbo, house-made boudin and authentic muffulettas, they offer creative spins on NOLA eats, like the Dong Phuong specialty po’ boy. Named after the famous Vietnamese Bakery in New Orleans, the Dong Phuong features marinated gulf shrimp, jalapeño, cucumber, cilantro, pickled veggies and pork fat mayo. Much of the menu, Ed says, is meant to be a twist on classic Cajun dishes. And all ingredients are sourced from authentic vendors who know their Creole.
“Our bread, for example, is Leidenheimer bread, sourced from a bakery in New Orleans,” Ed points out. “And our seafood — some of it is from New Orleans, some of it is from Alabama, but it’s all wild Gulf seafood.”
The restaurant’s decor follows suit with the eclectic bayou flair that is common among outdoor cafes and boisterous dive-bars that dot New Orleans and its outskirts. Folklore images of the shapeshifting werewolf pepper the restaurant’s interior and colorful beads drape the sides of the patio — all giving a reverent nod to the restaurant’s Crescent City inspiration.
“It’s definitely different from a lot of other places in the city,” Ed says.
And, of course, the restaurant doesn’t forget about the booze. Along with craft beer, The Rougaroux features a rotating cast of daiquiris perfect for enjoying in the Alabama heat. Right now, patrons can enjoy a bourbon and Coke daiquiri or cool off with a refreshing frozen rosé.
“We also do one called Roux’s Blood,” Ed adds. “It’s kind of our house daiquiri. It has strawberry, coconut and rum.”
As the restaurant continues to attract locals looking for a taste of New Orleans, Ed says he expects The Rougaroux to become a staple among residents who are seeking a laid-back atmosphere that’s big on flavor.
“It’s good food at a fair price point,” he says simply. “And it’s a hell of a lot closer than New Orleans.”
The Rougaroux is located in Forest Park at 817 39th St. S., Birmingham, AL, 35222. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. To learn more, call (205) 518-6677 or visit The Rougaroux’s Facebook page.
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