New Orleans, LA 70124
Napoleon's Rating - **/*****
Many will remember Plantation Coffeehouse, a Lakeview favorite for many years and a great spot to stop in for a light lunch, a coffee to go or an indulgent dessert. It never reopened after Hurricane Katrina, but just across the street and a block up Canal Boulevard some different restaurateurs have pulled off a pretty convincing reincarnation of its spirit at Lakeview Brew.
The building was once a service station, and it still looks like one from the outside. The dining room is small and colorfully decorated with local art and nostalgic posters to old New Orleans. There are a few tables out front, though if you want to sit outdoors the back patio is more attractive, with better shade coverage and fewer cars pulling up by your table.
Lakeview Brew has counter service and things move along pretty quickly. There is usually a short line at lunch time or brunch on the weekends to order, and with that done you take a seat and wait for your name to be called. The young ladies working the counter are friendly and the tables are cleared quickly even when it's very busy.
Lakeview Brew's breakfast menu is brief and served quickly, appropriate for a place where customers dash in for a bite on the way to work. Biscuits are the highlight of the breakfast list. They're big, fluffy "cathead" style biscuits, and they're fine on their own with some jelly or butter and even better when turned into over-stuffed breakfast sandwiches. The kitchen uses the same biscuit dough to make dense, heavy bricks of "sausage loaf."
Lunch will bring the nostalgic back to Plantation Coffee House, especially if you like avocado. Generous quantities of it turn up sliced over huge salads, like the Cobb salad with grilled chicken breast and enough blue cheese, cheddar and Swiss to constitute a cheese plate. Tuna, chicken and egg salads are spread on sandwiches in inch-thick layers, and the avocado makes a repeat performance here too. Mashed avocado, cheese and tomato on wheat bread is a great light lunch. More hearty is the huge club sandwich. The seafood gumbo has a nice seafood-flavored roux while the chicken enchilada soup is thick enough to double as a dip. Daily quiches have buttery crusts and are topped with a solid cap of melting cheese.
Desserts are a real specialty here. The pastry case is packed with pies and cakes and stacked with cookies and muffins, and they all look tempting. Of particular interest are the triple-layer hummingbird cakes with raisins and chopped pecans and the lemon icebox pies with crisp cookie crusts and curls of fruit slices on top. I also like the fluffy "million dollar" pie and peanut butter pie. They exude the care and individuality of in-house preparation, but their most intriguing appeal is how these sweets do not taste overly sweet. Crusts are buttery, pie fillings are rich and cakes are dense and heaped with frosting, but these creations are somehow not overly sweet.
Naturally, coffee drinks are the order of the day at Lakeview Brew, which makes a good, strong coffee and will pour you a towering cup of it if you choose yours to go. They prepare the usual range of coffee shop drinks.
This is an inexpensive place overall, though a few of the specialties creep up there and can lead to a higher-than-expected bill. The Cobb salad is $13, for instance, and the rather modestly-sized cups of soup are $4. Still, two people can get breakfast here for less than $20 and lunch for a little more.
Lakeview Brew is about all you could hope for from a casual neighborhood café, with solid basics, excellent specialties and plenty of options.