WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Occupying the North Shore’s most prominent and oldest restaurant property, the Lake House is the current headquarters of Cayman Sinclair. His plan when he took over the old Bechac’s was to use the grand property as a special events venue. He has done a lot of that, but between private parties he runs the Lake House as an a la carte restaurant. The menu is reminiscent of the Chef Paul/Emeril eras of Commander’s Palace, a golden time referred to by quite a few restaurants. The flavors are big and distinctly Louisiana, with just enough polish to make the place memorable.
Seafood dominates the menu. Nothing you find here breaks new ground. You’ve had crab cakes and flash-fried oysters with aioli, blackened redfish and stuffed shrimp, oyster-artichoke soup and seared trout with brown butter before. All of this is cooked well enough that you’d come here even if the restaurant were not as scenic as it is.
The Lake House is at least the fifth restaurant at this address. In 1847, a two-story Greek revival plantation home went up on the lakefront, on Lot #1 in Marigny’s 1834 town plan. In 1885, the prominent Bechac family opened a restaurant in the building. It lasted more than a century. The Bechacs got out of the restaurant business but kept the building, leasing it over the years to the Camelia Beach House (run by Pat Gallagher), a Bechac’s (in name only), and Patout’s (Alex Patout from New Iberia, to which he has returned), and now the Lake House. With the help of Vicky Bayley (of Mike’s on the Avenue), Cayman Sinclair (previously owner of the defunct LA Grill on Causeway Boulevard) opened the Lake House in 2010. Cayman learned his strokes during a tenure at Dakota.
The building is as grand as it is historic, after repairs of hurricane and fire damage in the past decade. The ground floor main dining room feels more like a lounge than a restaurant, but it’s very comfortable. Tables on the front patio and on the second-floor gallery look out onto Lake Pontchartrain, and how do you beat that? Despite the classic surroundings and the ambitious menu, the Lake House is entirely North Shore casual, right on down to shorts.
Onion rings, white remoulade
»Truffled French fries, aioli
»Flash fried oysters, tasso, Camembert
»Barbecue shrimp with grits
Fried green tomatoes, lump crabmeat
»Crab cake, chili lime aioli, pickled mirliton
Crab fingers, chive cream
»Oyster artichoke soup
»Green salad, pecans, pears
Grilled yellowfin tuna, crawfish remoulade
»Shrimp Lafourche (stuffed with crabmeat, crawfish sauce)
Crisp shrimp, truffled fries, roasted chili aioli
Seared ruby red trout, crab salad, brown butter
»Blackened redfish, pecans
»Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes
»Grilled beef tenderloin, Gorgozola, roasted garlic
Chocolate cake, ice cream, chocolate sauce
FOR BEST RESULTS
Never attempt to dine here without a reservation. Although the hours are set, you never know when a private party will take over the entire place. Sometimes it fills up for no apparent reason. Sunday brunch is glorious here.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
It would be nice if they were open more than three nights a week. Although once you have connected with a server everything will be taken care of, sometimes it’s hard to figure who’s in charge of your table, or even if anyone knows you’re there.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +3
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday lunch
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations recommended