On a busy stretch of Magazine Street dotted by international and eclectic eateries, one new restaurant offers a toned-down approach to dining.
Lana Banks and Ali Wild opened The Standard this summer. The restaurant serves unassuming comfort food, delivering homespun classics with a Southern touch.
Dining here is a casual affair, akin to a weeknight dinner at a friend's home. Pale yellow walls with wainscoting are dressed with bric-a-brac. Distressed wooden accents and tapestry-covered chairs give the space a lived-in feel. The servers are warm and welcoming, even during weekend brunches when business picks up significantly, but at times the place seems understaffed.
Brunch is a good time to stop by because the space feels light and airy, and the best seat in the house is in a cozy nook overlooking Magazine Street.
Grilled, buttered baguettes are the vessel for many poached egg dishes. In the Pontchartrain breakfast, a smoked sausage link is sliced down the middle, nestled on top of the griddled bread halves and topped with poached eggs and barely-fried oysters. Tying everything together is a creamy tarragon-flecked bearnaise, carrying just the right amount of zing to balance out the richer aspects.
The Benicio is an indulgent Southwestern twist on the classic Benedict. Shredded "puebla-style" pulled pork is heaped atop crumbly jalapeno cornbread and topped with poached eggs. The tender morsels of pork have a juicy, almost milky softness to them that pairs well with the honey-tinged cornbread, which tastes sweet throughout, despite the peppers. Rustic roasted potatoes are rubbed with rosemary and their crispy, dark caramel exterior gives way to a silky core.
The dinner menu features simple and classic dishes portioned large enough that the appetizers, which appear to be somewhat of an afterthought, are almost unnecessary. A starter of baked brie served with baguette and mixed greens was straightforward, but the giant portion of cheese was overkill, and fig jam haphazardly spooned onto the plate had the look and consistency of applesauce and rendered the dish messy.
Lana's crab burger melt has a plump crab patty seared to a light golden brown and topped with Havarti, lightly grilled green tomatoes and Bibb lettuce. A dollop of spicy remoulade adds heat and complements the natural sweetness of the crab.
There's a blue plate special allure to dishes such as the buttermilk fried chicken, which is comforting and satisfying. The boneless breast is soaked in buttermilk brine, which tenderizes the meat, rendering it very juicy. The crust is not of the heavy, shatter-at-first-bite variety, but instead refreshingly thin and crispy, letting the rest of the dish speak for itself. Creamy skin-on mashed potatoes serve as a bed for the bird and pack earthy flavor. A dense biscuit topped with black pepper gravy completes the meal.
Keeping with the homestyle theme, there's no long selection of port wines or digestifs to close out the evening, and dessert consists of just one item — a pillowy bread pudding soaked with bourbon creme anglaise and sprinkled with fresh-cut strawberries. It's a simple, delicious end to an evening in a place that can feel a lot like home.
Email Helen Freund at email@example.com.