Matthew Lewis, the eponymous rover behind food truck sensation Where Ya At Matt, this year announced he's planning to open a real restaurant with tables and a roof. Roux is scheduled to debut on Fremont Avenue in late summer. And while Lewis has already settled on many of the small plates that will serve as the spine of his sit-down dinner menu - the baked grits he served at last month's Voracious Tasting will reappear at the restaurant - he's still tinkering with three starters. In the coming months, Voracious will periodically check in with Lewis as he perfects them.
For many eaters beyond southern Louisiana, the test of a restaurant's Cajun-ness is whether they can get gator there. Alligator nuggets, alligator burgers and alligator jambalaya are the edible equivalent of substituting "eaux" for every "o" on a menu. But Lewis says it's unlikely he'll serve any gator meat at Roux.
"You can't get alligator right now because of Swamp People," Lewis says, referring to the popular reality show set in the Atchafalaya River Basin. "Everyone wants alligator because everyone's obsessed with Swamp People."
During last year's month-long alligator season, hunters tacked their harvests to historic demand, creating a scarcity they can't remedy until September rolls around again. "It's a no go," Lewis says.
So Lewis is hoping to satisfy customers' hunger for cold-blooded swamp creatures with Louisiana frog legs, which he'd like to batter and fry. He's considering "a version of Buffalo fried frog legs, for the Southern twist."
"We want to do a lighter breading, because frog legs are pretty delicious," he says.
Lewis is adding frog legs to his next seafood order so he can start experimenting. He's holding off on submitting an order for turtles, although he'd love to serve turtle soup at Roux.
"It's pretty tasty, but I don't know if Seattle is supportive of it," he says. "We've actually debated on whether people would accept it. It's one of the things we hear about when we're on the truck, but the things you produce, you don't want to sit on for the handful of people who want it."
The final dish on Lewis' development list isn't likely to encounter much local resistance: He's contemplating a whole stuffed artichoke.
"It's something when you mention it, people really seem to be interested in it," he says. "You don't see a lot of whole artichoke leaves, but I think that could really take off. That's something I really want to do."
Stay tuned for our next installment, when we'll discover whether frog legs take to hot sauce; if Lewis has acquired any more confidence in local eaters' turtle tolerance and how Roux might stuff an artichoke.