Acadiana is home to numerous outstanding farms and local meat producers, which is why Ryan Trahan opened Dark Roux last December, an inspiring farm-to-table restaurant with an inventive take on Southern cuisine. Trahan has long been an advocate for utilizing local food in restaurants.
“Dark Roux is a community centered restaurant dedicated to sourcing its menu within a 200-mile radius of our location,” said Trahan.
Dark Roux serves up “new American Creole” dishes by Trahan, a self-taught cook from Lafayette, and Chef Cory Bourgeois, who worked in New Orleans restaurants. Every dish incorporates produce and meats from local growers such as Gotreaux Family Farms, Mary Mary Markets, Gonsoulin Cattle, Inglewood Farms and Bread & Circus Provisions, in addition to the gardens right outside their doors. Look around the restaurant — even inside among the diners and in the surrounding parking lot — and you’ll find herbs and summer vegetables growing.
“Creole cuisine is where culture meets local food ways,” Trahan explained. “And we take local food and put a modern Southern spin.”
There are set menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, but the items change with the availability of what local food producers are offering which, Trahan said, keeps customers interested and trying and experiencing new food items. One great way to follow what Dark Roux is featuring that week is to routinely check their Facebook page or website (warning: the photos will make you very hungry).
“Right now Cory and I are stuck on the corn dish we serve for dinner,” Trahan said. “So unique and really fresh. We recommend this plate to everyone.”
Lunch offerings at Dark Roux include small plates, salads, sandwiches and chef plates, everything from pork “backbone” stew, a typical South Louisiana dish of smothered pork and gravy over rice with smothered cabbage to the “Farm Stand,” a toss of market vegetables, spring mix, feta cheese from Wanda Barras’ Belle Ecorce Farms, garlic emulsion and preserved lemon aioli on Poupart’s Bakery ciabatta. There’s even a “Locavare Burger,” featuring bacon, barbecue pickles, smoked mushrooms, gruyere cheese, spring mix and the house aioli on a Great Harvest bun.
For dinner, diners can see where there food hails from — pork osso bucco from Chappapeela Farms, pork chops from Inglewood Farm [NOTE: it’s Inglewood FARM, no s] and romaine wraps featuring grilled tilapia from Gotreaux Farms in Scott.
On weekends, Dark Roux becomes a comfortable space to enjoy brunch with live music, especially if diners want to relax on the patio. There’s so many great items to choose from, such as the butter pecan waffles, the shrimp n’ grits and the boudin Benny, Ritz cracker-crusted boudin cakes (the boudin is naturally house-made) with crawfish étouffée and a poached farm egg topped with Creole hollandaise. Just don’t forget the restaurant’s unique take on New Orleans beignets, a crowd favorite.
“They are completely different than the normal New Orleans style,” Trahan said. “Soft and addictive would be great describers.”
Dark Roux offers a variety of weekly drink and food specials, plus happy hour. The restaurant is also the site for the Local Pantry Pop-up dinners the second Tuesday of every month.
Herb and Feta Gnocchi
1 1/2 cups water
6 ounces unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chives
1 cup Wanda’s feta
6 large farm eggs
Directions: Set up a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle attachment. Have all the ingredients ready before you begin cooking.
Combine the water, butter and the 1 tablespoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the flour all at once, and stir rapidly with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean, with no dough sticking to it. The dough should be glossy and smooth but still moist.
Enough moisture must evaporate from the dough to allow it to absorb more fat when the eggs are added: Continue to stir for about 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring. A thin coating will form on the bottom and sides of the pan. When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and the aroma of cooked flour will be noticeable. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl. Add the mustard and herbs. Mix for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients and release some of the heat, then add the cheese. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Increase the speed to medium and add another 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Turn off the machine. Lift some of the dough on a rubber spatula, then turn the spatula to let it run off; it should move down the spatula very slowly. If it doesn’t move at all or is very dry and falls off in a clump, beat in the additional egg.
Place the dough in a large pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain tip and let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature. (If you have only a small pastry bag, fill it with half the dough two times.) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
Because this recipe makes such a large quantity of gnocchi, your arm may get tired: An easy way to pipe the gnocchi is to place a large inverted pot, canister, or other container that is slightly higher than the pot on the right side of the pot (left side if you are left-handed) and set the filled pastry bag on it so that the tip extends over the side and the container serves as a resting place for the bag. Twist the end of the pastry bag to push the dough into the tip. (From time to time, as the bag empties, you will need to twist the end again.) As you squeeze the back of the bag with your right hand, hold a small knife in your left hand and cut off 1-inch lengths of dough, allowing the gnocchi to drop into the pot. Pipe about 24 gnocchi per batch. First, the gnocchi will sink in the pot. Keep the water temperature hot, but do not boil. Once the gnocchi float to the top, poach them for another 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on the paper towel–lined baking sheet. Taste one to test the timing; it may still seem slightly undercooked in the center, but it will be cooked again. Repeat with the remaining dough.
When all the gnocchi have drained, place them in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day.
Place a non-stick skillet and place on the stove with medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
When oil begins to smoke toss in gnocchi, season with salt and black pepper and sauté until golden brown and heated throughout! Remove From heat. Remove the gnocchi from the remaining oil. Serve with vegetables and meat of your preference!
3524 Kaliste Saloom Road Suite 101
Lafayette, LA 70508