BY COL. ANDREW J. SMITH
It seems like almost every town has its favorite gathering place. For example, in Stony Point, it used to be Annie’s. But in West Haverstraw, it’s Babe’s on Railroad Avenue. You can always expect to run into people you know and catch up on all the local happenings—plus of course the food is amazing. I’ve been there many times and have had many things from their menu and have never been disappointed. That’s why I decided to go there for this month’s edition.
As regular readers know, I have a running contest as to where to find the best cobb salad. Babe’s has one that I always have and love, and this time was no exception to that rule. I had a wide selection of dressings and chose my favorite: honey mustard. As an appetizer, I had their house shrimp cocktail, which always contains the freshest shrimp imaginable, along with their cocktail sauce that has the perfect amount of horseradish. As for the entrée, I had the pulled pork sandwich with fries and slaw. I’ve had it before at this location and it’s always tops.
For you barbecue fans out there (but even more for those with little experience with it), pulled pork is what they save for last, along with a brisket. Northerners generally don’t know what a barbecue really entails as most confuse it with a mere cookout. A barbecue requires the meat simmer at least overnight or as long as 24 hours. There are actually four schools of barbecue, which are regional in nature. First is North Carolina, which is built around pork. Next is Memphis, which is dry rub where the spices and flavorings are rubbed into the meat. Then comes Kansas City, the thick sauces that can be sugary, syrupy, spicy, mustardy, or tomatoey, or combinations thereof. Lastly and by no means leastly, is Texas, which is based on beef. Everyone has their favorites. I like mine a bit smoky, a bit spicy and a bit sugary. Babe’s sauce is to my taste in this respect with a mountainous supply of meat. (For those wondering, it was Kansas City style.)
Predictably, I had my usual seltzer with a lemon wedge and some bread came with my salad. The salad had all the traditional ingredients that Bob Cobb of the old Brown Derby in Hollywood used when he invented it ages ago. The one variable I’ve found is that there’s no agreement as to which kind of cheese to use. Some use cheddar, which was the original, but just as many seem to use crumbled bleu cheese. I like either, so I’m easy to please in that way. I have had cobb salad in many locations but Babe’s still is the gold standard.
It all went down very nicely as I have come to expect from Babe’s and, as always, I had to decline the dessert menu since I was comfortably filled. The entire tab came to a reasonable $36. Once again, I congratulate owners Jerry and Joanne Accomando for a job well done.