ABERDEEN – Le Roux Southern Creole Cuisine is tucked away in a narrow building just off the main drag in downtown Aberdeen, but the little restaurant packs a big culinary punch.
Owned by Carla and Michael Arevalo and their business partner, Jay Jacobs, the eatery specializing in Southern Italian Creole food opened in October 2012.
“We started out just catering,” said Carla. “My husband is from New Orleans and he would boil crawfish to sell. People kept telling us we needed to open a restaurant and finally, it was like a lightbulb went off – this is what we needed to be doing.”
The trio opened Le Roux in a building on North Meridian that most recently housed Terry Martin’s floral shop. Before that it had lives as a hamburger joint, a Christian bookstore and a bakery, Carla said.
“When we got in here, there was a big hole in the ceiling where rainwater had been dumping water all over the floor,” she said. “The exposed brick walls were here and we had to do some work to them.”
They hired Corey Warnick from Warnick Wood Shop to put in heart of pine floors and build a long, wide bar out of cypress.
Then they went to work on the menu.
“Most everything in here is an original design,” Michael said of the culinary creations. “When I look at someone else’s recipe, I’m not looking at ingredients. I’m looking at the preparation.”
Michael and Jay both bring the Creole influence to the menu, while Jay adds the Southern twist and Michael puts an Italian spin on traditional dishes.
“Jay did the Porky Pig Po’Boy and I came up with Tuscan Shrimp,” Michael said.
Some of the items on the menu, which changes weekly, you won’t find anywhere else. Take, for instance, the Port Empire Crab Cakes.
“That dish is named for a place in Louisiana,” Michael said. “We figured people love crab cakes so let’s add another dimension – fried green tomatoes. And then let’s add another – fried eggplant. Each layer is drizzled with Remoulade sauce and the whole thing is smothered in crawfish étouffée.”
The Fried Pecan Pies are a signature dessert at Le Roux. They are pastry tarts stuffed with pecan pie filling, deep fried, placed on a bed of powdered sugar, topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
But wait, there’s more.
Appetizers range from New Orleans barbecued shrimp to crab-boiled fried mushrooms. Chicken and andouille gumbo, red beans and rice and shrimp bisque are always on the soup menu. Lunch items include crawfish, shrimp, smoked sausage, fried oyster and pulled pork po’boys. A house salad and a blackened chicken salad are always on the menu.
There’s also a weekly lunch special – one meat, two sides and a drink for $8.95. This week’s special is fried catfish or hamburger steak with side choices of mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas and collard greens.
Dinner entrees change weekly, Carla said, but they always offer dishes featuring steak, fish, chicken, seafood or pasta. This week’s dinner entrees are pan-sautéed grouper, shrimp étouffée, a porterhouse steak, and the St. Bernard Parish Pork Chop – a 1-pound bone-in pork chop that’s stuffed with andouille sausage, green onions, bacon and honey, then marinated, grilled and finished in the oven.
“Friday and Saturday nights, we get a lot of people in from Amory, Columbus and West Point,” Carla said. “Thursday night is mostly locals from Aberdeen. We recommend that if you’re coming from out of town that you call and make a reservation. We’d hate for you to drive all that way and then us not have a table for you.”
Sandi and Billy Commander of Aberdeen are regulars at the 30-seat restaurant and have been ever since it opened.
“We moved here from Jackson and it’s a big change when you come from a metropolitan area to a small town,” Sandi said. “But it’s neat here. Sometimes we eat here and sometimes we pick something up and take it home. Either way it’s good.”
Want to go?
WHAT: Le Roux Southern Creole Cuisine
OWNERS: Michael and Carla Arevalo and Jay Jacobs
WHERE: 105 N. Meridian St., downtown Aberdeen
WHEN: Lunch Wednesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Thursday-Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. (the kitchen closes at 10, but the restaurant stays open until midnight).
INFO: Call (662) 304-2288. The restaurant seats only 30, so reservations for dinner are recommended.