Cheap Eats: Bob

Healthy stuff on a stick in Old Fourth Ward

Bob opened last month in Irwin Street Market, taking over the former Bell Street Burritos space. It was a prickly changing of the guard. At the time, Bell Street owner Matt Hinton declined to comment publicly on the situation, but this much is certain: The burrito joint initially closed for maintenance and repairs in September, "other issues" came up, the issues were not resolved, and six weeks later, the new eatery from market founder/Chief Marketing Officer Jake Rothschild (Jake's Ice Cream) and partners opened aimed at providing a healthier, or at least a less carby, alternative to fast food. You won't find any bold, exotic flavors at Bob, but it's refreshing to have gained a new veggie-friendly option that isn't cold-pressed kale juice.

Stuff on a stick: The menu is stacked with 11 pre-selected cheese/veggie/protein combos ranging from $4.50-$6.50 per 10-inch skewer. The flavor combinations are straightforward: the GuidoBob ($5.50) is made with meatballs and mozzarella, the JerkBob ($5.50) with pineapple and jerk-spiced chicken, and so on. Expect about three pieces of protein per skewer. You should also expect to scrape everything of the stick and eat with a fork and knife. The BuffaloBob ($5.50) is a fine stand-in for deep-fried hot wings. Golf ball-size hunks of grilled chicken come doused in mild buffalo sauce and skewered alongside cherry tomatoes and celery sticks. The FarmerBob ($4.50) comes with roasted root vegetables such as rutabaga, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Salads are probably best left off of sticks. The ZorbaBob ($4.50), a skewered Greek Salad, is odd mainly because the lettuce-to-ingredient ratio is all off. Three leaves of lettuce aren't nearly enough to balance the flavor of two to three whole pepperoncinis and unpitted kalamata olives. For $6.50, you can put whatever you feel like eating on the stick.

Candy colored: Bob's new lime green and baby blue paint job has erased all traces of its predecessor's grown-up feel. The wooden tables in each of the six or seven booths are tinted Smarties-hued pinks, yellows, and greens. When the dining room is empty, which is how I found it twice last week at 1 and at 7 p.m., the stream of slow R&B anthems becomes awkwardly loud. Paper menus are up at the counter where you order when you're ready. Pick a seat and your food is brought out in plastic deli baskets as soon as it's ready.

Health nut haven: Bob's biggest selling point is the potential for customization, especially for those with specific dietary needs. The entire menu is gluten-free. Vegans, vegetarians, picky eaters, kids, and even Paleo folks have options. The only grease I encountered was on the sweet potato fries ($2), and even then it was minimal. As for the portion sizes, you'll either hate Bob for smaller-than-average serving sizes or love it for the help with portion control.

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