…and that’s “Byronz,” sounds like “Tyrone’s.”
Our trip to Bistro Byronz was kind of a fluke, considering we ended up there after attempted lunches at two of our regular haunts. It was our first visit–Byronz is one of those places that, for us anyway (“us” being myself and my boyfriend, who is usually my willing companion on these outings), is perpetually on the “to-try” list but never quite crosses over. Perhaps it’s the location: in a small shopping center on Line Avenue (shared only with a travel agency), Bistro Byronz is dwarfed by the bigger Line restaurants: Bistro 6301, Superior Grill, and the like. But don’t let yourself be fooled by its lackluster exterior; Byronz is a gem of a restaurant, so insanely delicious that we went back for brunch the next morning.
Bistro Byronz is decorated in highbrow minimalism–think Pottery Barn-meets-pub. White subway tile, antique mirrors, and not much else adorn the walls, while straightforward, naked tables remind you that you’re here to eat and socialize. I was a little dismayed, however, to see TVs mounted in a few corners; I’m of the opinion that a restaurant can’t market itself as a “nice place” if it has TVs on–and I don’t care what’s on them. Eating out means conversation and reinforcing bonds with your loved ones. It does not mean staring vacantly at sports while you ignore your wife.
Okay, rant over. On to the food!
With locations in Shreveport and Mandeville, in addition to the flagship restaurant in Baton Rouge, Bistro Byronz is a true Louisiana institution. Byronz serves up classic French dishes, tweaked to incorporate Louisiana-specific flavors.
My companion and I were greeted hurriedly by our icy waiter. Too busy and distracted to introduce himself to us, he seemed to have all the time in the world to make nice with our neighboring table, a large group of older couples. Our optimism was sinking. But we trekked on–after all, I needed material for this very blog.
Byronz has a well-executed lunch menu. Not too large to be overwhelming, they feature old lunch standbys (salads and sandwiches) along with some decidedly non-lunchy choices: cassoulet and pot roast, to name a few. Despite these tempting options, my companion and I were in a lunchy mood, so we opted for sandwiches. To start, we ordered their baked feta appetizer, which is as great as it sounds. We certainly didn’t expect what arrived moments later: a warm, lusty feta island in a sea (well, more like a pond) of robust, intense marinara sauce–served with parmesan toast points for easy sampling. My companion, unable to restrain himself, also ordered a cup of their sweet corn and crab chowder–chunky, sweet, and just the right amount of cream, it had me hearkening back to my days in Florida.
Our sandwiches were brought out soon afterwards by an inexplicably grim server, but we were so heartened by our appetizers that we couldn’t bear to concern ourselves. My companion ordered a Gruyère-stuffed turkey burger on a wheat bun, served with sweet potato fries. This burger may parade around like diet food, but it sure doesn’t taste that way. The turkey patty was flavorful and moist–everything a turkey patty usually isn’t. Frankly, it was downright beefy. I had a hard time tasting the Gruyère in the few bites I had of it, which was surprising because it’s such a hard cheese to miss. Topped with spinach and red bell pepper, the burger is a definite win.
Speaking of wins, my sandwich was just as good, if not better. Shrimp Louie, also on a wheat bun, is a sort of shrimp salad–boiled shrimp are tossed in a dressing similar to Thousand Island (sans the relish) and served with the obligatory lettuce and tomato. I chose something called “Zydeco pasta” as my side dish, and it tasted exactly as you’d think it would; tri-color rotini and big chunks of zucchini were tossed in a light, herby vinaigrette (rosemary came through the strongest). A dash of Tony Chachere’s gave it the “Zydeco” I was anticipating.
For dessert (of course there was a dessert, how else could I bring you an accurate review?), my companion and I split a piece of key lime pie. I was already waxing nostalgic about my years as a Floridian, so this was par for the course. Between you and me, readers, key lime pie is my absolute favorite pie, winning out over the equally strong contenders of peanut butter and blackberry. Byronz’s version is alarmingly close to homemade; instead of the angular, symmetrical, molded slices usually served up at restaurants of the same caliber, this one was soft, jiggly, and utterly delectable, with a remarkably mouth-watering lime bite. Accented by two little candy lime slices, it was also–I daresay–adorable. The crust was crumbly, toasty, and studded with coconut to expand on the tropical theme.
Our sullen server brought us our check, and it was only then that we learned his name, printed across the top: Taylor. At his best, he was chilly–but he brought us such tasty food, it was hard to be anything but miffed.
I am nearly ashamed to say we spent around $50 on a Saturday lunch, but remember, thrifty readers, we ordered an appetizer, a cup of soup, and a dessert in addition to our meals. Considering our minimalist meal at Sake Sushi cost about the same, we considered this a positive experience. Byronz’s lunches run between $5 (a grilled cheese sandwich) and $16 (seared tuna), so you can make your meal an experiment in ascetics, an exercise in opulence, or anything in between.
When you’re hankering for a taste of classic Louisiana without the “not another crawfish place” complaint, head over to Bistro Byronz. Try them for Sunday brunch–they make a ridiculous Bloody Mary that makes Sunday feel a little more like Saturday night.
6104 Line Avenue