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Babs' French Quarter Kitchen

Update: Babs' is closed.

In a word: Light repasts, on fire.

The specs: #0245
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; review at Isthmus; blurb at Madison Magazine.

JM ate the ham and cheese po' boy with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the blackened catfish salad with an Ale Asylum Madtown Nutbrown.
The bill was $24, or $12/person, plus tip.
JM gave Babs' French Quarter Kitchen an A-; Nichole gave Babs' French Quarter Kitchen a B- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Babs' French Quarter Kitchen news and reviews

Dining room

Babs' is a new place, yet feels like it's been part of the Willy St. neighborhood for a while. We thought it would be at its best on a warm summer night with the doors open to let in a cool breeze, but this spring evening was fairly charming too.

Cajun shrimp

We started with some BBQ shrimp, which were served steaming hot (no hour-plus waits as other reviewers have mentioned, though it might have helped that yet again we were the only faces in the place). Biting into the little critters was a treat - by the time the usual delicate shrimp flavor subsided, the hot barbeque flavor was kicking in. The fresh bread rounds were perfect for both cutting the spice and clearing the palate, or sopping up more of the hot, peppery oil. JM preferred the former, saying too that Babs' self-serve water is the most useful since GumSeng's.

Po boy

JM thought that, while Babs' might still be finding its feet and isn't necessarily the best at any one thing, it is good at just about everything it does (Nichole found an exception - see below). His po boy came together great with more excellent bread.  Filling, with a nice mouth feel, his po' boy displayed a nice balance though it was no much more than a "usual" sandwich.

Blackened catfish

Don't come here for salad, though. Definitely the chink in their armor, the salad was just limp iceberg in a mediocre oil-and-vinegar dressing. After picking out the tomatoes, Nichole left most of the greens. The catfish filet was succulent and tender, which makes it all the sadder that after a couple bites the spices just burned and burned and burned, obscuring any other flavor. Fishie, too, went unfinished.

The side effect was that Nichole felt too guilty about not finishing dinner to spring for dessert, which has been praised elsewhere. Summer's coming, and we could see popping into Babs' for a beer and a homemade chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwich. Fo true.

Window seat

Comments

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Rarely, do I develop a real deep craving for specific items of food. One such rare case, are my cravings for Bab's Mufaletta Sandwiches. I've never had a Mafaletta anywhere else, Bab's was my first and only, but good god, that thing is deeelicious. And Bab's is a sweetheart. I started going there because of that sandwich but I'll keep going there because I like to support awesome people in their endeavors.

We were very disappointed with Bab's.

For dinner we had a cup of gumbo, cajun cheese fries, 1/2 a mufaletta sandwich, and the shrimp creole.

Nothing seemed fresh. The gumbo was served lukewarm and lacked spice, and the cheese fries were reheated frozen fries with generic cheddar cheese and cajun seasoning sprinkled on them. The mufaletta was alright, but the bread was not fresh-baked, and the ingredients, outside of the olive salad, seemed like something one could pick up at any deli in a local chain supermarket. One positive was that the 1/2 mufaletta was quite large.

The shrimp creole was the most disappointing. Again, this was a dish we could have made at home for less than $7.95. The shrimp were overdone and not well-seasoned, the rice was plain white and bland, the vegetables reminded me of the diced tomatoes/chiles you can buy in a can at Aldi for 59 cents, and the portion was small. When I order an entree like shrimp creole, I expect to be taking half of it home. Even after the cajun cheese fries as an appetizer, I had no problem finishing the entire dish and was still not over-full.

The service was poor, as well. We waited over ten minutes for our check, and then were not asked if we would like dessert. Our waiter did not seem to be familiar with the menu, which was not altogether extensive. The environment was fine--a little chilly on a winter night, but the bayou music was a nice touch.

We would not recommend Bab's. In sum, Bab's is like cajun fast food. You can do better.

i love babs i go there every night we always order frenchfries and oooh were they delishous! along side with fresh potato skins and a good old can of barqs root beer!
I would defenetly recomend babs!!

Babs' was the LOST-food for this week, and we were generally pleased.

I had the muffaletta (whole-sized, which provided ample eating for both last night and just moments ago). Kristine had the hot sausage po'boy. We shared the garlic cheese bread.

The insides of the muffaletta were tasty, in good supply, and fresh--that is to say, not wilty or discolored. They didn't appear particularly homespun, though, and I wouldn't be shocked if the meats and cheeses had a fairly mundane provenance.

The outside of the sandwich was a definite minus. The bread was monotone, with no good crust on the outside and little flavor or crumb on the inside. Could have found better at a grocery store. It felt like freezer-to-oven easy bake stuff.

The po'boy started out strong, and finished a little weak, by Kristine's description. It, too, was large. You definitely get your money's worth in volume here. The heat of the sausage was noticeable, but the texture of the patty (v.v. sad that it wasn't sliced Andouille) evoked the original chicken sandwich at Burger King. Due to sheer mass and that tiresome texture, it went unfinished.

I have just recently taken up muffalettas, and have only had two so far. But the muffaletta I had at the increasingly-great Fratello's (nee Fox River Brewing Company, and don't I wish they'd kept the old name) in Appleton was miles ahead of Babs' offering. Great bread, better olive salad, and hot capicolla instead of boring old ham.

We'll be back to Babs', but may or may not get those specific sandwiches again. Definite no on the garlic cheese bread. Blech.

I have had 2 meals at Bab's, several months apart, and both were unfortunately really bad.
A group of coworkers and I tried Bab's for lunch. Maybe this was our mistake as Bab's does not seem like a place to go for prompt or efficient service. Each time we had to wait forever for our food.

First visit: vegetarian red beans and rice. completely flavorless. Red beans in a red-bean colored mash on top of white rice. No texture or taste other than bean and mashed bean. Had to put copious amounts of bottled hot sauce on beans to give it some flavor. Corn bread = fresh but crumbly, dry, and not tasty.

Second visit: small veggie jambalaya for $4.95. This turned out to be small bowl of white rice with no food in it. (well, there was a lot of tofu mixed in and about 3 pieces of celery.) The flavor was "hot" in an unspecified, unsophisticated way. Kinda like they just dumped some more bottled hot sauce on the rice. No evidence of tomato or onion, no sauce, etc. The "regular" non-veggie jambalaya appeared the same except was served w/ a big sausage.

The service is, as reported, really bad. The guy who waited on us this time was very friendly but clearly unfamiliar with waiting on tables. There was no silverware.
Drinks and food order was taken simultaneously, but drinks were not delivered until 10 minutes later. The food took a really long time, and was brought out sporadically. One guy had to wait for his shrimp salad while the rest of us had our food for about 10 minutes. My corn bread was brought out late while another guy had his right away. Those of us who ordered coffee never got the coffee refilled, one person was served coffee in a mug with no handle (sugar bowl?), after we got the sugar and cream for our coffee we all shared a butter knife to stir it with. We had tepid water served in discolored plastic cups with no ice,
and the poor guy waiting on us came and went from a secret location behind a shower curtain.

In his defense there were a total of 2 people working at the restaurant - the waiter/cashier and the cook. There were 2 large groups and 2 small groups he had to wait on. So he was busy, but he also was not trained to wait tables. We had to request sugar and cream for coffee, had to request silverware, never got refills, and he didn't seem to know how to carry food out to a large group.

A previous post suggests that this place is counter service only, but each time we were there, they waited on us and never told us to order from the counter.

On a positive note, the staff was very accommodating of my coworker who has a gluten intolerance, and they were able to answer all her questions. (The shrimp creole was gluten free....)

The service "issues" could be overlooked if the food were good, but it is not. Go to New Orleans Take Out instead.

Thought it was worth commenting on my shrimp po'boy (to go) for lunch today.

1) It was very, very good.

2) The shrimp were peeled, cornmeal-dusted, and fried to order.

3) It was huge.

The only way I could comment on "bad service" was because Babs was working alone, there were two other customers, and she's got a bad wrist. It took about 12 minutes. I don't see that as in any way exorbitant.

No worries, Timmy. The troll(s) are back under the wooden bridge where they belong.

I've tried Bab's food 3 times now and all 3 times have been really disappointing. Weiner bun type roll on a Po'Boy? Dirty Rice which was nothing but hard dry little rice kernels with a smidgeon of celery and black pepper. The real abomination though was the alleged Crawfish Etouffee that could have more properly been named Crawfish Boy-Ar-Dee. Since when in hell is etouffee based on tomato sauce, rather than roux, and sauce so thick that it covers over the taste of everything else in the dish. Really did taste like it came from a can. I don't like being so negative, but I love New Orleans cooking and this place insults it.

hello babs im anabell do you remembere me i miss your lainasse potato

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