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.
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.
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.