At this point, brunch in Baton Rouge has thoroughly blown up. You don’t need us to tell you about The Chimes or Bistro Byronz or any of the city’s other most popular brunches. You’re certainly not going to be impressed by the words “crab cake Benedict” anymore. That’s why we’ve dug up some of Baton Rouge’s lesser-known brunch spots so you can impress your friends and dates with some fresh, tasty choices off the beaten path.
Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar
At Jolie Pearl, brunch, like everything else, is all about the oyster. Pick a classic brunch dish and replace the meat with a fried, grilled or raw oyster, and it’s probably on the menu at Jolie Pearl. Of course, there are options for the oyster-skeptical as well, and you can always substitute oyster for shrimp or other meats, but when you’re somewhere that knows its oysters this well, why would you? We tried cheesy grits topped with fresh fried oysters and a delicious Worcestershire-based glaze that offered a savory riposte to an otherwise powerfully rich meal.
For an unassuming space in the Acadian Village Shopping Center on Perkins Road, La Divina serves up some big, refined flavors. Brunch here is an informal affair with no set closing hours, as chefs said they gauge the interest of their customers every weekend before moving to a lunch menu. La Divina fuses flavors and techniques of Louisiana and Southern cooking with those of rustic Italy, resulting in dishes like grilled Italian sausage with roasted red peppers and shredded Fontina cheese served over grits. The bakery stands out as well, with a brie-stuffed puff pastry topped with eggs, an apple and tomato chutney, pancetta and house-baked ciabatta toast. And to combine drinks and dessert, the Strawberry Balsamic mimosa is served with a floater of strawberry gelato.
Secret Lair Taqueria
True to its name, Secret Lair Tacqueria is well-hidden, but rewarding for those who seek it out. A pop-up operating out of Corporate Brew and Draft in the Citiplace shopping center, Secret Lair offers up a high-end taco-centric late brunch on weekend afternoons with a focus on local and specialized flavors and ingredients. The centerpiece to many dishes is the “salsa egg,” a poached egg infused with Secret Lair’s signature pico de gallo. We tried the Keep it Rouge ‘Dilla, a quesadilla stuffed with a salsa egg, local butcher shop Iverstine Butcher’s boudin and cheese drizzled with the shop’s secret sauce—a spicy, creamy aioli. For the more adventurous, Secret Lair serves up an Asian-inspired octopus salad with miso sauce, cashews, a poached egg and a chili-lime aioli.
Photos by Minh Kiet.