The Best Food Ever: Chicken Francaise
So, your like, doesn't she work there? She must be biased. Maybe, but in order to maintain my blogging reputation I asked people at the bar if they had this dish from Freddy and every single person who did exclaimed how good this chicken was. One person even told me they loved it more then when they had it in Italy. I did not get one bad review of this dish.
This chicken is absolutely out of this world. I'm not sure I've ever had a more perfectly balanced chicken francaise. It isn't too eggy or heavy, the lemon sits just right where it needs to be, and the sauce isn't creamy and lumpy. The lemon is tart, but not over powering which is nice. Balance is everything in a good francaise dish. I would know, I've been eating chicken francaise since my dad and mom used to take me to the diner as a kid. If your not from NJ, then you don't know what high regard we have for diners. If you think chicken francaise from a diner can't be good, then you've obviously never been to a NJ Diner. For that, I feel sorry for you.
In Southern NJ we hold our diners in almost as high regard as our hole in wall bars. So.. Onto Babes.
So, the place: Babes Bar and Grill, Gibbstown NJ. It's a small hole in the wall bar situated in the center of a small town. A town small enough that everyone, knows everyone. Like your mother knows your best friends aunts cousin twice removed and how she handled her divorce. If your not from here, entering the bar can be a little intimidating at first (so I hear) but once your inside you'll be treated like family. I've worked here about two years so I don't really think about it, but I do see hesitant outsiders can be. Chances are though, you pull up a seat at the bar someone from the town you don't know will end up buying you a drink. If I'm there I'll ask you why you came, simply out of curiosity. We were in the paper once for our wings, so a lot of people have come for that reason. Others, passing by and saw us on Yelp.
The bar has a oval bar downstairs and tables upstairs. Babes has known it's fair share of tragedy. Last year when the "straight line winds" hit us Babes was destroyed. I remember it like yesterday because I was running into the front door as it was happening, and it was terrifying. Babes, our local watering hole, was closed due to extensive damages from the end of June until October. Didn't I say it's a small town? We literally had NO WHERE TO GO. It was hard for us all to be away, and wonder what was going on in there. I saw it one time toward the end and it was ripped down to the studs and sub floor. There was nothing in there but material to rebuild. The small town bar was rebuilt and customers rejoiced. People came back in droves to see the new digs. We maintained one small part of the old bar, where it says Babes Bar and Grill in the old yellow and brown decor of our years past. It's a reminder, I think, of how far we have come from that storm.
Babes is really a family place. The owners named the place after their mother Babe, who turned 90 this year. Babe is my grandmother, Tooties, best friend. That's how small this town is. Even people in their 90s have retained their 70 year friendships.......
Now, the chef: Freddy! He's young and has all the ideas that your thinking your crazy, but, it works. Often I say, alright can I have something for dinner? And he'll say what do you want? And I'll say you make something up. And he never disappoints. Except when he kept giving me things with mayonnaise. That was in the beginning of our friendship. Now we are on solid ground where he understands my total disgust with mayonnaise. So lets talk about Thursday specifically because Freddy shines on this end of the week it's almost damn Friday night. Thursday is dinner night, hence where this chicken came from. He's always serving fresh seafood, and an awesome outsider dish you wouldn't expect, like Risotto. In the summer there are crabs, and in the winter clams and monstrous mussels sit atop pasta in varying sauces. He has a spicy Fra Diablo, a Creamy White Sauce, Alfredo, you name it... he makes it.
The food: Chicken Francaise. I particularly loved this because it was a light lemon sauce and nothing was too over powering. I don't handle cream sauces well, so I was at first hesitant to order this. The sauce was lemony and creamy in a sense that you could tell a lot of love went into it, but not in the sense that he added milk or heavy cream. The glossy creaminess obviously came from the butter hitting the pan at the very end.
The chicken is pounded thin and tender then lightly floured. The floured chicken breast is then put in a super screaming hot skillet. From there Freddy begins creating...
His sauce is built right in the pan and its lemony tart and creamy from the Parmesan cheese. Once the chicken is done he adds in white wine and chicken stock. To finish the cooking off he hits it with butter which makes the whole dish glossy. He tops the sauce and chicken over your pasta preference with whatever the vegetable is fresh for him that night. Lastly he hits it with fresh parsley and BAMMMM. Mouth watering explosion. Like, all else around you stops because your friggan eating chicken heaven.
I'd absolutely recommend any dinner he makes, especially the Loaded Nachos.
I'll have to blog about them another time. Here's another good one, Mussels in Red Sauce over Linguine.
Another Thursday night meal.
But, if you asked Zach he'd only eat the wings. That's all he ever gets. Most people come for the wings, because they don't know about Thursday night. A little small town secret I'm letting out of the bag. Your welcome Southern New Jersey!