Last week we dished up five places to get a great bowl of gumbo on National Gumbo Day, to honor Cajun and Creole chef Paul Prudhomme, who passed away earlier this month. Reader suggestions followed, one of which was Red Roux — but it turns out that Red Roux isn't the name of the eatery at 3435 Albion Street in Park Hill. The place is actually called The Garden: Your Neighborhood Farmhouse, and the gumbo served every Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is cooked by chef John McDonald, who packages and sells his Louisiana-style sauce bases under the name Red Roux.
The Garden isn't new, but it changed hands over the summer and is now run by Aleece Raw, her husband, Kris Meece, and their family. It's no longer a full-service restaurant but is instead an event center and community outreach program designed to get more people growing and eating fresh produce. The old Victorian mansion is surrounded by vegetable beds, berry bushes and hop vines; the couple also offers commercial kitchen space to chefs like McDonald.
McDonald has been serving chicken and sausage gumbo at The Garden since July for $12, and that includes a salad, roll and slice of pound cake. Last week he switched it up for a seafood gumbo chock full of shrimp, crab and clams for $18. It was a rich, hearty stew with a brick-red hue from the roux and a rib-sticking consistency thanks to the thickening powers of okra. A glass of pineapple-basil water came at no extra charge.
When the weather's nice, picnic tables in the front yard among the vegetable beds are a great place to enjoy lunch. Otherwise, there are a few tables inside, where you can also pick up fresh eggs, Red Roux mixes, or even tubs of gumbo from the grab-and-go fridge. Seasonal vegetables can be purchased inside, too; Raw and Meece want everyone to be able to partake, so they let customers name their price on whatever is available. While harvest season is coming to a close, squash and other fall vegetables are still available, supplemented by a small farm and greenhouse the couple runs in Larkspur.
Everything going on at the Garden is community-centered: volunteers stop by to help with the yard work, Meece sells his hops to local beermakers like Fiction Brewing, and neighbors stop by to chat and trade vegetables from their own gardens. It's a bit of a hodge-podge and has a Swiss Family Robinson feel to the whole enterprise, but at least for now the gumbo is part of the mix. It's worth a stop in this quiet Park Hill neighborhood off Colorado Boulevard to just enjoy a slower pace and a satisfying lunch.
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