Last June, after decades of working in French Quarter restaurants, chef Joe Faroldi opened Lakeview Burgers and Seafood on a lively stretch of Harrison Avenue. It was a substantial change of pace from where he last hung his hat (the since-shuttered K-Joe's on St. Louis Street), and Faroldi's new home has the neighborly feel of a family-run business in a residential area. Family members often work at the cash register, service is friendly and attentive and there is plenty of banter exchanged while diners wait for their food.
The casual atmosphere extends to the small dining room. There are about five tables, and diners place their orders at the counter and seat themselves. Fried seafood is served in plastic baskets and other dishes appear in plastic vessels. Condiments are available in tiny to-go ramekins. Most sandwiches cost $7 or $8, and fried plates between $13 and $16 easily can be shared.
Casual dining shouldn't necessarily correlate with a dip in quality, but there are some hits and misses at Lakeview Burgers and Seafood, often with dishes involving the fryer.
On a recent visit, seafood beignets were spongy and carried a burnt caramel tinge suggesting the items were fried too long. Mozzarella sticks are a much better bet. Gigantic strips of fresh mozzarella cheese are given a quick egg wash and lightly dusted with seasoned flour before hitting the fryer — just long enough to achieve a crispy golden exterior that gives way to ribbons of oozing cheese. Accompanying marinara is slightly sweet.
As the restaurant's name implies, seafood platters feature prominently here. Battered in a thick crust, fried oysters and shrimp are lackluster, but catfish was moist on the inside. The flaky white fillets are available as one of many sandwich options, most of which are served on crusty po-boy rolls or brioche buns.
French fries too, win the battle with the fryer, but could have used more salt. The fries are soft, with a light golden shell that gives way to a creamy interior.
In line with the no-frills atmosphere, the burgers are a testament to simplicity. A mixture of ground chuck and brisket goes into 8-ounce patties that are cooked to a deeply charred well done and dressed to order with lettuce, pickles and condiments. The burgers could use more seasoning, but the chefs don't skimp on the toppings. On one visit, a request for mushrooms resulted in a burger blanketed in sauteed champignons and their deep, earthy flavor nicely complemented the char on the patty.
What works best for the restaurant is its proximity to Parlay's, the neighboring watering hole popular with a young professional — and often rowdy — Lakeview crowd. On weekends, sidewalk tables are filled with bar patrons, a natural clientele for burgers and fried seafood.
Other satisfying options include a Cuban sandwich, traditional in every way except for thick slabs of Genoa salami Faroldi throws in for good measure. The spicy cured meat joins hunks of slow-roasted pulled pork, wedges of ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and bread and butter pickles on a pressed po-boy roll.
While there's room for improvement, there is little pretense here. What you see is mostly what you get: a casual neighborhood restaurant comfortable in its surroundings.