St. Lawrence's menu promises first class bar food. Does it deliver?

Photo of the Bibb Lettuce appetizer at St. Lawrence

Dinner didn't start well. St. Lawrence on North Peters Street inherited daiquiri machines when the bar/restaurant moved in, but they didn't have one of the two advertised house-made drinks the night I was there. Not impressive, but I was there during Tales of the Cocktail, so maybe attendees cleaned them out. Fortunately, the one they had - blueberries, basil and gin - was refreshing and balanced. Then we were told that they were out of Miller Lite as well. How does that happen?

St. Lawrence's kitchen is clearly aspiring to do a higher quality version of pub grub. They're not reinventing the burger, the po-boy or chicken wings, but they're going for creative versions of them. The most novel appetizers were the spring rolls, which contained most of the makings of a Reuben. The house-fried potato chips had just enough thickness to give them substance, and we scraped the pimento cheese dip down to the bowl's finish. Bibb lettuce cups with a small salad including pickled shrimp were light and deceptively complex.

The kitchen seems to aspire to more than it can manage at times. The awkwardly named FGT Po-Boy - a po-boy version of the BLT made with fried green tomatoes - suffered from too-thin tomato slices that were then left to fry far too long. The bacon was also extra crispy, but that was the only wipeout, and I assume the frying is likely better most of the time. Another reviewer found the tomato slices too thin on another visit, so that may be an ongoing issue. 

It was also surprising how colorless and uncomposed the plates were coming out. My poor sandwich looked naked and alone, positioned sadly in the middle of a big, white plate, and the Bibb lettuce appetizer met a similar fate. In the past, I've smirked at Top Chef contestants freaking out over presentation, but I appreciated their anxiety when a number of good dishes appeared unimpressive when brought to the table.

I want St. Lawrence to succeed because the Canal Street end of Decatur/North Peters is a dismal gateway to the French Quarter for tourists, and it needs the sort of place St. Lawrence is trying to be. The menu's inviting, and the kitchen's aspirations are obvious. A little more attention to detail and they could realize those goals.

Want My Spilt Milk in your inbox? Now you can get "Condensed Milk" via email. Condensed Milk brings you the last week of the website in digest form, and you can subscribe for the free newsletter on the MySpiltMilk.com home page on the right-hand rail. Your email address is safe. It won't be sold or given away, and you won't be spammed.