Roulay Restaurant and Bar, a new Cajun-French restaurant finds its way to...

Roulay Restaurant and Bar, a new Cajun-French restaurant finds its way to downtown Lexington

Roulay Restaurant and Bar

A new Cajun-French restaurant finds its way to downtown Lexington

BY: KRISTINA ROSEN

Filling the void of Cajun-French cuisine in downtown Lexington, Roulay Restaurant and Bar is preparing to open on West Short Street. Executive Chef Kelly Mackey and Nick Lagagsorn, owner of Buddha Lounge, are the creative masterminds behind Lexington’s newest upscale Cajun-French focused restaurant.

Mackey was raised on Cajun and Creole food, and doesn’t hesitate to mention her deep Mississippi roots. She fell in love with French style cooking and honed her cooking skills while working as a sous chef at Le Deauville. After several years there, she opened her own food truck, Lady Remoulade, with the goal to find a business partner who was willing to invest in a Cajun-Creole food concept.

She eventually found that business partner in Lagagsorn, whom shared her passion for bringing Cajun inspired cuisine to downtown in addition to her beliefs on how to treat employees.

“I think as a team–me being back of house, him being in front of house–we have a lot to offer Lexington,” says Mackey. “I had this dream of creating this environment, this healthy family oriented restaurant environment. Nick was gracious enough to let me live out my dream. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better partner on this journey.” 

A dream for them both, Mackey and Lagagsorn are quick to admit that Roulay didn’t happen overnight. The project took roughly two and a half years from conception to completion.

The building, formerly home to law offices, but the space has been gutted and completely remodeled. The first floor features an intimate dining and bar area, two garage style doors that open into the street, and plenty of seating. With a heavy French southern vibe, the restaurant makes you feel like you’re tucked away in a cozy, authentic restaurant in downtown New Orleans.

The second level is a lounge that features an original mural done by Joe King of Oracle Tattoo Guild and the third level is a patio. There are plans for live music events in the lounge and access to the patio during warmer weather.

“We gave Joe some ideas and vibes we were going for — magnolia flowers, masks, feather–and we let him design it himself,” explains Mackey. “It turned out better than our expectations.”

Mackey describes Cajun and Creole cuisine as country comfort food with the flair of culinary art. While she is a fan of other local Cajun offerings, she plans to elevate the staple dishes that Lexington knows and loves while infusing French techniques.

“The menu is designed with Lexington’s palette in mind,” says Mackey. “Even the dishes you’ve never heard of or tried before, just give it a shot.”

The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast will include beignets, pastries, and chicory coffee. Rachel Chancellor is the Pastry Chef behind the breakfast items and upcoming dessert menu that includes vegan and gluten free options.

Lunch features traditional rice bowls like étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya along with po boy and muffuletta sandwiches. While lunch is casual, dinner switches to a more fine dining experience. With a heavy French-Creole influence, the dinner menu features alligator, turtle soup, and seafood pasta dishes.

Roulay is a female-run kitchen with a big focus on attention to detail. Mackey claims to cook grandma style, meaning very small batch quantities and fresh ingredients. Being so landlocked in Kentucky, she wants to offer high end menu items, show them off, and execute them right.

As a scratch kitchen among many others in downtown Lexington, Mackey isn’t worried about competition. She thinks more and better offerings only elevate the local food scene.

Mackey continues, “And with us, our food is so different. The neat thing is we’ve been welcomed into the community not only because we’re a scratch kitchen, but because we are different. The more amazing restaurants that come up in Lexington, the better.”

Roulay Restaurant and Bar opens at 107 W. Short Street in February.

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