It's all about the bread. It's easy to imagine that without the simultaneously crusty and fluffy New Orleans take on the classic French baguette, the po' boy sandwich just wouldn't have achieved the kind of cult status that it enjoys today. It certainly wouldn't be the same with real French bread: way too chewy by half.
B's Po Boy, a recent addition to the burgeoning Fountain Square/Shelby Street dining scene, sources its bread straight from what has to be the most authentic source in the country, the Leidenheimer bakery in the Crescent City.
Perfectly situated just across the street from the Fountain Square Brewery, B's occupies an old timber framed house which has been tastefully and simply renovated in a modern urban style. Outside there's plenty of seating and a bocce ball court for the sportingly inclined. There's a decent amount of parking in the immediate area and the Cultural Trail goes right by the front door. Access couldn't be easier.
B's menu is admirably focused and to the point, offering a handful of the eponymous sandwiches, a few salads, a tasty selection of sides and one dessert. It's the only dessert you'll need. There's an efficient wine list which covers most of the bases, including dry rosé, and a flexible tap assortment featuring both local brews and the essential Louisiana brew Abita Turbodog.
Po' boy sandwiches are traditionally prepared with fish and seafood, and B's offers these as well as a few less obvious fillings to satisfy the more eclectic diet. There's even a vegetarian option with hummus and red peppers. Available as a full size for $9, or a half size for $6, the sandwiches are generously proportioned and sensibly priced.
On a recent visit, my wife and I stuck with the more traditional fillings, opting for the shrimp, oyster and andouille sausage. All were excellent, although if I had to rate them I would put the shrimp, lightly breaded and perfectly crunchy, at the top, closely followed by the andouille. My wife has a bee in her bonnet about exploding sandwiches, so she particularly enjoys the fact that the po' boy's uniquely fluffy bread permits it to be compressed into an easily edible form without losing its essential shape or any of its ingredients. It's these little things that matter.
Although not included in the price of the sandwiches, I recommend the house remoulade, a slightly pinkish mayonnaise-based condiment which packs just enough spice to lift the flavor profile and prompt the second pint of beer.
B's side dishes are solid, especially the red beans and rice, but it's the po' boys which are the main attraction, and rightfully so. Until you get to dessert, that is. Whatever else you eat, please try to save some room for the beignets. These deep fried choux pastries are worth a trip in their own right. Served very generously five to a plate for $3.50, they are absolutely delectable, and nothing like as heavy as they look. Enjoy them with both the raspberry and chocolate sauces.