Above: Bubba’s crafty crab cake salad, served over greens tossed with a judicious amount of charred-lemon and buttermilk dressing.
By Wini Moranville
I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed with Bubba—Southern Comforts when it first opened. Certainly, the spot was a beautiful place to hang out—the stylish update of a modern Southern parlor setting brought a welcome respite from the industrial-chic or reclaimed-wood look of many newer venues.
But, candidly, the cuisine struck me as a Machine Shed take on Southern cooking. Don’t get me wrong: I admire the Machine Shed for what they do—hearty and sincere farm cooking. Still, I didn’t think such big-food bravura belonged at Bubba; it seemed a disconnect from the handsome and sophisticated decor.
People, that’s changed. Certainly, you can get the big food that continues to play well in our culinary landscape, but everything I’ve tasted across three recent visits brings a kind of refinement that better matches the ambiance. On a recent lunch visit, we utterly adored the shrimp and grits; I’m not sure what the star here was, because the immensely rich and creamy grits and the Cajun-spiced shrimp were equally swoon-worthy. Tender-cooked collard greens—diced delicately with bits of charred squash, bell pepper and onions—brought added freshness and sparkle to the dish.
We also appreciated the crab cake salad, served over greens tossed with a judicious amount of charred-lemon and buttermilk dressing. Especially notable was, once again, the delicacy of the dish, right down to the detailed and precise dice of the zucchini, squash and bell pepper. So many salads today are made in a ham-handed way—akin to a bucket of lettuce topped with inelegant planks of whatever—created too often (I suspect) by people who don’t eat many salads. This was thoroughly satisfying yet completely refined—a salad for salad lovers.
These days, service has been hit or miss around town, but my three visits to Bubba made me remember what a difference great service makes—how it can truly deepen and enhance the dining experience.
Bubba is at 200 10th St.; 515-257-4744; bubbadsm.com.
Wini Moranville, who writes about cooking, wine and dining for dsm, is on Facebook at All Things Food DSM.