Regular customers at Lakeview Brew (5606 Canal Blvd., 504-483-7001; www.lakeviewbrew.com) might be surprised to learn the cafe's owner doesn't drink much coffee. But Randie Porobil didn't open the coffee shop and restaurant in January 2008 because she had a passion for lattes.
"I owned a fine-dining restaurant prior to [Hurricane] Katrina in Lakeview that was flooded," she says, "And I wanted to open a business in Lakeview to contribute to the recovery."
Porobil was born and raised in Lakeview and is proud of it, but when she starts talking about the dishes she dreams up for the cafe, it's clear where her passions lie.
"When I was younger, I learned to love to cook," says Porobil, who works in the kitchen and comes up with a new special every day. "I get my creative juices flowing that way. I might go seasonal, with whatever's fresh and in season. When it's cold, I'll do something that sticks to your ribs, that's filling."
For lunch, there are sandwiches like the Fleur de Lis, which comes with mesquite turkey, smoked Gouda, asparagus and an apple butter spread, and the City Park, which includes honey maple ham, pepper Jack cheese and sliced tomato.
"In the morning, we're coffee, and all day long there's breakfast, lunch and dinner," Porobil says. "People like the eggs Benedict and Florentine. There's a roasted veggie omelet and breakfast sandwiches."
Among the most popular dishes is avocado salad, a bed of spring mix greens topped with red onions, crumbled blue cheese, walnuts, avocados and mandarin oranges with a homemade mango vinaigrette. There's also a kids' menu, and the cafe offers catering for events ranging from birthdays to weddings, with cakes and cookies baked in-house.
Porobil makes the pies and cakes, many from recipes passed down for generations. The cheesecake is popular, but Lakeview Brew is known for peanut butter pie, which customers can buy by the slice.
This year, Lakeview Brew celebrates its ninth anniversary, but there won't be a party. Instead, Porobil wants to focus on her agenda for the cafe's future: a liquor license so the cafe will be able to serve mimosas, bloody marys, Irish coffees and wine.
Though running the cafe can be tiring — the last thing Porobil wants to do when she gets home, she says, is cook — a stream of "very local" regulars makes it all worthwhile.
"I think they like the warm, friendly atmosphere," Porobil says. "We have a wonderful staff, and the food and coffee are very consistent."