Our food critic’s name may be false, but the credentials are not. This gastronome has studied the history, cultivation, preparation, science and technology of food for more than 30 years.
Tucked in the back of a long strip center off Florida Boulevard sits BB&PF, a simple establishment punctuated with African maps and art pieces. The decor gives you a glimpse not just into another continent, but also a culture that isn’t often represented on Baton Rouge’s culinary scene.
The name stands for “Bean Burgers and Plantain Fries,” and the menu showcases Nigerian and West African cooking. The interior is a primer to the real treats awaiting behind the kitchen curtain.
We began our visit with Peanut Soup with Fufu. Fufu, for the uninitiated, is a West African starch of root vegetables like yucca or potatoes boiled and pounded into a dough-like ball. The version we tried at BB&PF was soft and rather bland, which made it a perfect foil for the soup. We added mushrooms instead of meat to the incredibly spiced, deeply flavored broth that tasted ever so slightly like peanut butter. It was marvelous.
A side of Bean Soup allowed for a comparison between the two bowls. Black pepper aromas hit our nostrils first, followed by the visual realization that this was a puréed bean soup.
It was far milder in flavor than the peanut soup, and there was an undercurrent of sweetness that highlighted the earthy bowl. This was another slam dunk of a dish. An added side of Sweet Potato Tots were just the right blend of soft, moist and crunchy, and brought more interest and a touch of whimsy to our soup starters.
The entree of Couscous with a vegetable medley and shrimp sounded fresh and nutritious. The brilliant yellow grains of couscous were mixed with peas, carrots, corn and green beans, all adding textural interest and bright pops of color. Plump, juicy shrimp offered a lighter protein punch to the party of chickeny, slightly peppery flavors in the couscous. Included was a heaping serving of mildly sugary plantains—a treat that was impossible to resist.
Our other entree of Coconut Rice with Goat featured a stewed tomato sauce that was like a slow-cooked Sunday gravy—the kind where the tomatoes lose their sweetness but leave behind a slightly acidic, dark, robust stew. Aiding in the brawny flavors were chunks of goat meat, so tender we could easily cut them with a spoon. The fluffy white coconut rice complemented this succulent, hearty dish. The entree and side of plantains would fill up the hungriest diner.
Finding authentic Nigerian cuisine in Baton Rouge was such a delicious departure from my usual dinner excursions. Fresh and substantial yet not heavy, the food at BB&PF is obviously made with loving care by a skilled artisan.
We agreed we would eat here again and again. And you should, too. Escapism on a plate served up by passionate, friendly folks: Now that’s dining out right.
THE BASICS: Owner Caroline Umolu Collins opened the Nigerian eatery in 2012 with an aim to educate customers about African culture through traditional dishes.
WHAT’S A MUST: Try the Peanut Soup with Fufu, a dough-like ball of pounded, starchy root vegetables. For an entree, BB&PF serves jollof rice, coconut rice or couscous with a variety of flavorful proteins like chicken, beef, goat or fish.