Bye, Bye Bywater American Bistro; Hello BABS!

Chef Nina Compton’s retouched, refocused & redesigned restaurant reopens as BABs
The wait might not have been long but it was certainly worth it as Chef Nina Compton and her husband/business partner Larry Miller unveiled BABs – Bywater American Bistro’s casually sophisticated new incarnation – in January 2024. Following a brief closure for a carefully calibrated aesthetic overhaul and a strategic menu refocus, the reimagined BABs is positioned to be a culinary haven embodying Compton and Miller’s vision of a “restaurant for every day or any day.”

At BABs, Compton, a James Beard: Best Chef South winner and prominent figure on New Orleans’ culinary landscape, maintains her signature style while infusing a rustic ambiance into the restaurant, as well as a commitment to comfort-driven dishes grounded by meticulous technique and imbued with her natural finesse. With an impressive vitae that includes years of training in Italian technique, at BABs Compton will showcase her unique style in a comfortably elegant setting with food promising big flavors. For example, new appetizers include Burrata with marinated tomatoes, sopressata, and grilled bread; Arancini with paddlefish caviar; Blackened Octopus with sweet potato coconut puree; Butternut Squash Soup with arugula pesto and ricotta salata; Shrimp Fra Diavolo; and more.

Credit: L. Kasimu Harris

Entrées highlight Compton’s exceptional pasta-making skills with selections such as Wagyu Beef Lasagna with fontina fonduta; Spaghetti Carbonara with andouille and black truffles; and Cavatelli with shrimp run down sauce – a favorite and carry-over from the original menu. Branzino with puttanesca and soft herbs, as well as Eggplant Parmesan with garlic breadcrumbs and basil round out the main courses along with a variety of rotating specials. New desserts include a Buttermilk Zeppole served with spiced chocolate and Olive Oil Cake with whipped mascarpone and Louisiana citrus, as well as seasonal ice cream and sorbets. The new cocktail program, under the direction of Head Bartender Rick Powanda, will feature a variety of classics, along with an array of creative concoctions. Libations, which complement Chef Compton’s cuisine and honor her Caribbean roots, include Da Vinci’s Strokes which Powanda describes as an Amaro twist on the classic French 75 and includes Sfumato, grapefruit cordial, lemon and sparkling wine; Ms. Fizzle, a light and refreshing cocktail with Cardamaro, pineapple-infused vodka, orange cordial, lemon, Angostura bitters and egg whites; and the St. Elsewhere – London Dry Gin, Soursop-Guanabana liqueur and mango infused Galliano.

Credit: L. Kasimu Harris

While the original space in the Rice Mill Lofts building combined raw and industrial elements with contemporary features, the newly renovated space exudes warmth and intimacy with rustic touches like warm woods, ambient sconces, and a variety of plants. A newly-added wine cellar will house the restaurant’s award-winning list of Old World and New World wines. New signage spotlighting the new name, is expected shortly. As BABs steps back into the spotlight, it marks a new chapter in the culinary journey of this celebrated restaurant.

BABs is located in the Rice Mill Lofts at 2900 Chartres Street in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood. The restaurant serves dinner, Wednesday – Sunday with seating from 5PM – 10PM. For additional information or reservations, please visit or call (504) 605-3827.

Stay up to date on social media: @babs_nola

About Chef Nina Compton: St. Lucian native Nina Compton is Chef/Owner of gastronomic gems Compère Lapin and BABs in New Orleans, along with her newest concept Nina’s Creole Cottage in Caesar’s New Orleans. In 2024, the savvy Chef will open ShaSha Lounge: Social Aid and Pleasure Club – an NFT collaboration with top Chefs from around the United States. Since her flagship restaurant, Compère Lapin opened in 2015, the restaurant has garnered critical acclaim – both nationally and locally – for Compton’s one-of-a-kind Caribbean-inspired Louisiana cuisine. Sister restaurant, formerly known as Bywater American Bistro, has been touted as one of the city’s best restaurants since opening in 2018. Compton has been name-checked across the globe and in 2018, was named “Best Chef: South” by The James Beard Foundation.

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