The Patron Saint of Cooks

St. Lawrence was martyred in the year 258. According to legend he was burned alive, or grilled, and during the process he told his persecutors “I'm done on this side, turn me over.” I'm not entirely sure whether St. Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks because he was grilled to death or because of his attitude while he was being grilled to death, but either way he was a badass.

There's now a restaurant, or more accurately a gastropub, named after St. Lawrence. It's located at 219 N. Peters St., and though it's off the beaten track for locals, it's well-worth a visit. The chef is Caleb Cook, who has experience working with chef Susan Spicer at Mondo and Bayona, and while the food at St. Lawrence isn't white-tablecloth, it's delicious.

The first thing you should recognize about St. Lawrence is that it's in the same block as Coyote Ugly, which is apparently a bar in which scantily clad women pretend they are being filmed for some sort of low-rent reality television show. I'm sure they're very nice, and I'm sure the food at Coyote Ugly is delightful if you're extremely drunk and don't care what you eat.

For that matter, St. Lawrence is not too far from Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Not to turn this into a rant, but … wait, no, this is going to be a rant – who the holy hell comes to New Orleans and eats at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company? Picture this; you're a block away from food that has an actual connection to New Orleans, and you're going to eat in a place that's based on a movie? 

I guess my point is that it's good to see a restaurant in that block of St. Peters that's not devoted to feeding tourists from Omaha food that won't scare them. Which is not to say that the food at St. Lawrence is scary. Because it's not. It's comfort food with an inventive twist. Chef Caleb Cook is putting out gastropub food that puts the chain restaurants surrounding it to shame.

There's a daily curry that, when I had it, combined cauliflower, peppers, zucchini and carrots in a Madras curry that was just spicy enough to bring a little sweat to my forehead. The Reuben spring rolls combine corned beef, chow chow, gruyere cheese and thousand island dressing for a twist on the Asian specialty. There's a fish-and-chips dish on the menu in which, like a few other places that have opened recently, the fish is grilled rather than fried. I'm a traditionalist where it comes to things like fish and chips, but then again I have high cholesterol and a nasty disposition. I'm probably not the best judge of these things.

There are a few specialty cocktails at St. Lawrence, a decent number of beers both on tap and in the bottle and a list of wines by the glass that won't impress anyone who hasn't stumbled into the place from Coyote Ugly. Service is good, in that it's attentive without being intrusive, but this is more bar than restaurant, and you should take that into account.

St. Lawrence is located, as noted above, at 219 N. Peters St. Call (504) 525-4111 to find out more.

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