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See more photos from the New Orleans-style interior of The Rouxpour and its busy kitchen in our slideshow.
2298 Texas Drive
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Region: Outside Houston
Lunch at The Rouxpour is a relaxing affair, even surrounded by the office buildings and traffic of Sugar Land's busy Town Square development. The windows of the New Orleans-style restaurant are thrown all the way open in nice weather, letting a cool breeze circulate through the restaurant and allowing you to enjoy the French Quarter courtyard look of the big patio without having to sit in the sun. If only the lunch specials themselves were more of a draw.
For $11, you can order a four-inch po-boy — from roast beef to fried oysters, Rouxpour offers a huge assortment of the sandwiches — and choose between an equally large assortment of soups and salads to complete your meal.
Crawfish bisque, seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, a wedge salad — there are a dozen different ways to round out your po-boy, but choose wisely: That four inches worth of po-boy doesn't go very far, and it doesn't come with fries (those are a $2 upcharge). It's pricey for what you get — although this is a general trend at The Rouxpour, where a dozen chargrilled oysters are $17 and appetizers can cost up to $45.
The po-boys themselves are decent sandwiches, but I'm hard-pressed to call them "po-boys." The soft bread is all wrong, they're barely dressed (a squirt of mayonnaise under your fried catfish doesn't count as being dressed) and the produce that comes on top — a few shreds of lettuce and one very small, barely red slice of tomato — rounds out the feeling of disappointment when you see the little sandwich delivered to your table on an unnecessarily large plate. It's a shame, too, as the meat of the po-boy — whether it be fried catfish, roast beef or fried oysters — has always been very good on my three visits.
I get the sense that someone back in the kitchen at The Rouxpour knows what they're doing, but that they're perhaps not given enough freedom to execute consistently good meals across the board. For instance, a cup of crawfish bisque features an odd broth that's more like the creamy tomato soup found at La Madeleine than a bisque. Again: It's not bad, but it's just not quite a bisque. On the other hand, the red beans and rice are soulful and rich, with a pleasant snap to them from the green onions scattered on top and the judicious application of some Tabasco sauce.
This inconsistency in dishes has featured across my visits to the two-year-old establishment, but I wish I could say that's the biggest of The Rouxpour's problems.
On my first visit to The Rouxpour, my dining companion and I had the unpleasant experience of being harassed throughout dinner by two inebriated customers who were wandering in and out of the open-air restaurant.
The two men were clearly there to drink and watch football, which would be perfectly fine if the restaurant itself had a clearer partition between the bar and the dining area. As it was, the two men kept crashing into our table, using it as an ashtray, setting their drinks down next to ours while they smoked and being generally loud and obnoxious between calling us names and insulting my friend's haircut. (To be fair, she said, her bangs did need a trim.)
The entire patio that night was quite rowdy, however, and the two men's behavior went more or less unnoticed in the raucousness of it all. Even a request to a manager to move the two over-served customers was ineffective; the men stayed put, but not before screaming to the poor manager that they spent money at The Rouxpour every night. "We've never even seen these bitches before," one said of us.
When I brought this up with Lincoln Ward, one of the owners of The Rouxpour, he was appropriately horrified. Ward, who started in the industry washing dishes at a restaurant off Highway 290 when he was 17 years old, has poured himself into the Sugar Land restaurant. He and his chef, Jose Luis, worked together for the better part of ten years and were excited to open what Ward calls "a real New Orleans deal" in the previous Mi Luna space.
Ward knows that it gets rowdy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights — "We are a Louisiana restaurant," he says, before emphasizing, "we are a New Orleans restaurant" — but Ward says the levels of frat party woo-ing and stumbling about that I witnessed on that Thursday night weren't typical of the weekend crowds.
"That's extremely rare if not nonexistent, and that's unfortunate," Ward said over the phone, clearly upset by my recounting of the night's events. "It's unacceptable, and that is absolutely not the impression that we want to put on anybody in our restaurant. We hold ourselves to a high standard and we hold our managers to a high standard and that's discouraging."
But what, he wanted to know, did I think of the food?
I told him truthfully about the one item I've enjoyed above all others at Rouxpour: the gumbo. Although the bowl I had on that first visit had a few rubbery, tough shrimp in it, the roux itself more than made up for the shrimp, which I could easily pick around. A central Louisiana-style gumbo with a dark, thick, resonant roux — nearly burnt in that most perfect of tiptoeing dances in front of a line that shouldn't be crossed — this is a dish which Ward and his crew can certainly be proud of. Replace those frozen shrimp with some fresh Gulf beauties, and it'd be the best gumbo in Houston without question.
The food sounds like it might get there but the trashy behavior by what sounds like LA oil field salesmen from LSU would be a huge turn-off. An establishment makes a ton of money off of those types and the bartenders tend to over serve them because they claim to know and be friends with the owner, "what's his name." That's a lot of high profit business that a struggling place needs and the owner is caught between a rock and a hard place. These types want to be seen and heard in public because they think that they are cute and want to show off (like class clowns) so putting them in an out-of-the-way space only works for a little while. They are harmless but when they over-step the class-clown identity and turn into the playground bully, the atmosphere becomes uninviting and makes you want to leave.
Been there. Good, not great. Haven't returned. Not a fan of crowded loud drunk frat boy hang outs. I like Ragin Cajun way better, namely because the restaurant and the bar are in separate rooms. Food is better too.
Sounds like they need to figure out if they want to be a restaurant or a men behaving badly bar. You can't be both.
My wife and I sat at the bar one night and we must have been wearing our invisiblalty cloaks because we had a hard time getting our bartender to server us. Granted we weren't acting like the other "bros" so she ignored us I guess. Empty glasses are normal sitting on a bar right?
The gumbo is good but you're spot on about the bread. When you buy a sandwich the bread is a deal breaker.
We will go back for the raw gulf oysters once the water temp drops (screw that month's with r junk"). The raw oysters have always been great - sweet and salty - and its cheaper then driving to Gilhooley's.
I'm surprised to hear the shrimp was frozen though. You should ask Lincoln about that one.
The place definitely has hit & miss dishes, but I will vouch for the soft shell crab and the chargrilled oysters. Those oysters are the best I've found within the Beltway and heads and tails better than the ones at Wild Cajun.
"It has a chef with a lot of promise, a beautiful patio, a lovely interior (although it can be a bit fussy, something I find ironic given the very masculine crowds that dominate the bar and patio) ..." That's actually pretty typical Louisiana. Same interior taste and same cooking skills across the genders.
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