Chow, Baby: Wednesday, June27, 2002
West Side Story

Fort Worthians, it is oft-said, do not like change. Yet when Jubilee switched hands last month, nobody made a big fuss over the fate of home-cooking on the West Side. There was no moaning over the possible demise of the best chicken-fried steak in town, no breast-beating over the loss of pie lady Vivian Sims, no cries of “But it’s a Fort Worth institution!” Chow, Baby, recalling fits thrown in similar situations (Cactus Flower), was surprised. No, stunned.

It’s now been four weeks since brothers Charles and Robert Stewart took over the restaurant that shall be known as Jubilee until the new sign is installed. So far, the changes have been few and for the better. Take the bakery side: New pie lady Kathryn Stewart, bride of Robert, is stocking her case with melt-in-the mouth cinnamon rolls, yummy pies of all varieties, and quite possibly the best blueberry muffin Chow, Baby has ever had. Other menu revisions edge toward upscale: One recent lunch special was baked salmon with Mexican hollandaise sauce ($5.95). Charles says he plans to add more fish specials and a few sandwiches — smoked turkey, meatloaf, Reubens — to the lunch choices. All involved promise that chicken-fried steak will never leave the menu.

The restaurant’s new name is a tad worrisome. By the numbers, 7th Street Café should fall midway between the casual, comfortable 6th Street Grill and the trendy, too-clever 8.0. Chic-fearing Chow, Baby can only hope the Stewarts will aim low.

It Vuz All a Dream

Becoming a healthy adult sometimes means overcoming childhood traumas. For example, Chow, Baby’s mother went through a phase of dressing then-tiny Chow, Baby in dirndl skirts with embroidered straps, pinning blond braids to your columnist’s head, and then dancing around the room with “Mutter’s little German girl.” That the Chow, Baby family is not of German descent was only one of the many incongruities in this scenario.

To the surprise of Freudians, the mature Chow, Baby is fully able to enjoy gefuelltes schweineschnitzel ($13.95). At Bavarian Bakery and Café, that means a fried pork steak stuffed with bread crumbs and served with the limp, doughy noodles known as spätzle. Kaiserschnitzel ($13.95) is southern Germany’s version of veal cordon bleu: a nice tender cutlet wrapped around Westphalian ham and Bavarian cheese, breaded and fried, served with a cream sauce and more spätzle. The choose-two sausage plate ($9.95) and a wonderfully tender pork roast ($12.95) come with winekraut, but if you’d rather have spätzle than vinegary red cabbage, just ask.

The restaurant, tucked in a business park across I-20 from TCC’s south campus, serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights only, but the “café” part offers subs and schnitzel at lunch. The “bakery” part opens at 7:30am with wonderful pastries, danishes, and dessert-spezialitäten der haus. After an empowering slice of the best Black Forest cherry cake this side of Baden-Baden, Chow, Baby is not frightened by waitresses in traditional Bavarian dress. The 10-foot cuckoo clock is another story.

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