by Lanette Erby
Before visiting Papa Roux for the first time on June 18, I’d already eaten their food via food truck, sliders at Ball & Biscuit on Mass Ave., and the leftovers Nick would bring home from his lunch hour at Indy Urban Acres Organic Farm. Those farm boys know all the hot spots to eat on the east side. We’ll eventually review them all. Anyway, none of this primary enjoyment of their food prepared me for the experience of eating at Papa Roux on 10th and Post.
As you walk in to what first appears a dark and dingy back-alley scene, you realize the graffiti on the walls was crafted by patrons writing praise to the tiny restaurant. After mistakenly ordering at the counter, we sat down with our free iced tea – perfectly mildly sweetened for me and unsweetened for Stephanie – to wait for our catfish po-boys. It’s interesting to note that Stephanie occasionally makes exceptions to her vegetarianism for “happy” wildlife, so I am legitimately surprised when we both choose the same fare at a particular place.
When we sat and had time to survey the situation, we noticed a couple of kids coloring the walls while their mother ate in peace and quiet. Anyone with kids will appreciate the wall-art amenity. We also realized there is a convenient cue card system for signaling the very pleasant serving staff so that they’re not always in your face. Not only that, but they will bring you all the free sides and tea you can eat and drink throughout your entire meal. What?! Trying not to be greedy because we like small businesses to succeed, we ordered only the bread pudding and the mushroom etouffee. Yeah, I totally tipped up that bowl and drank the sweet juice at the bottom of my bread pudding. As for the mushroom etouffee, I still think they accidentally gave us the spicy garlic. I saw no hint of mushroom pieces and only really tasted garlic. Meh, maybe Yats has spoiled me. I would certainly never presume to be an expert on cajun food, and besides, no one can complain about free food, especially when more can be ordered at no additional cost. I didn’t order more for fear I couldn’t eat my po-boy, though. I was absolutely right. The sandwiches were giant, crispy, juicy and delicious. Both of us were only able to eat half, but I was happy to bring the rest home and bake it up in the oven for dinner. Papa Roux states that you can split sandwiches with someone else, but I feel that’s bad etiquette if you’re both eating free sides and drinking free tea. We all have to do what we can to make sure the small businesses we love stay in business. And we definitely love Papa Roux.
Our meal total was about $22. We left a tip on our credit card when we ordered and then scrounged up as much cash from the truck as we could ($1.20) to tip the server we didn’t realize we would have. We promised to double-tip next time. And there will be a next time. Thanks, Papa Roux!