UH graduate expands restaurant business
Students who want to dine at a Cajun-style restaurant but have that one nagging, health-conscious friend no longer need to worry; BB’s Cafe’s latest opening in the Greenway Plaza now offers vegan dishes.
The lexicon is the tricky bit when describing Brooks Bassler’s mashup of Tex-Mex and Cajun cafes, incorporating what some call Tex-Cajun or Tex-Orleans.
Bassler, who graduated in 2002 from the C.T. Bauer College of Business’ Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship program, said the Tex-Orleans wording is a conscious effort to keep away from the negative connotations some people associate with Cajun cuisine. In particular: battered, fried and unhealthy.
While I find nothing inherently wrong with a large plate being completely hidden under a pile of string fries mixed with chili con queso and gravy — otherwise known as the Tex-Cajun Virgin — health freaks might flip.
This is why Bassler incorporated alternative options into his menu. Namely, vegan voodoo tacos — a black bean salad on half a dozen miniature tortillas with salsa and steamed vegetables on the side.
Is it “Cajun” by definition? Not strictly, but what is American cuisine if not the melting pot of food? It is somewhat Tex-Mex, and Cajun food, after all, is based on simple preparations using locally available ingredients. In that light, mission accomplished.
Pessimists would call this variety a business decision — deviating from a strict po’ boy menu as a ploy to attract maximum customers and generate profit. But the menu contains no rush-job recipes.
Boudin, oysters, shrimp and hush puppies sit right next to salads and queso-covered fajita strips. It’s all there. Admittedly, students may be concerned about a $9 plate of Tex-Orleans fries, but that’s what sharing is for. The cup of red beans and rice for $3 is more than affordable, not to mention easy on the calories.
However, foodies thinking of having a late night po’ boy once a week better have an extra $50 ready to drop each month, assuming a few drinks and a well-placed tip are included.
Some would call this an identity crisis, like when a sports bar has free Wi-Fi and a kid’s menu, trying to do everything at once and failing at the attempt. You would think a Tex-Orleans cafe that serves everything from po’ boys to salads would have a similar problem, but BB’s Cafe works. The foods synergize with the drinks, the atmosphere matches the music and the decor — including the sign reading “shut up and eat” — it’s all perfect.
BB’s newest cafe off Greenway Plaza is a bit of a drive from campus, and the original cafe is still right off Montrose Boulevard and Westheimer Road. The cafe is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to midnight and open until 3:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.