Harrison Avenue in Lakeview, which was under eight feet of water a few years ago, has rebuilt its small restaurant row even bigger and better than it ever was before Hurricane Katrina. And the Steak Knife is again the street’s icon eatery at 888 Harrison.
Lakeview Harbor led the rebirth of the Harrison Avenue restaurant strip after the storm, joined later by such newcomers as El Gato Negro, Reginelli’s Pizzeria and Susan Spicer’s Mondo. After Katrina, the Steak Knife tried a two-year stopover in West End before it finally returned to make Harrison Avenue whole again.
It started four decades ago, where Mondo is now located. Then it moved to its current location, a former branch bank that was flooded along with the rest of Lakeview in 2005.
At last count, the short strip of Harrison had 10 restaurants, including the Steak Knife, Mondo, four spots specializing in sandwiches, two in pizza, one in chicken and one in Mexican food. With that kind of lineup in a rebuilding neighborhood the street understandably attracts a young crowd. Brothers Bobby and Guy Roth, however, continue to attract some of the same clientele the Steak Knife has lured since its beginning in the 1970s.
Papa Bob Roth started it in the late 20th Century with sumptuous steaks. The menu still offers delicious filet mignon, New York strip, prime ribeye and Porterhouse steaks.
But today the restaurant’s seafood can be as delicious and tempting as the meat. To confirm that, try the Gulf Fish Robert, which uses different saltwater fish according to their availability. The last time we ordered the dish the fish was a puppy drum served with lump crabmeat, mushrooms, beurre blanc and mushrooms.
And then there are entrees like pepper-crusted yellowfin tuna, shrimp bordelaise and fried jumbo shrimp from the Gulf, plus starters such as escargot, crabmeat au gratin, smoked salmon, crabmeat vinaigrette salad, flash-fried oysters and seafood gumbo. Despite the steak name, you never forget you’re in a Creole restaurant, a very good Creole restaurant.
Surrounded by upper level residential areas, Lakeview and Harrison Avenue have tempted restaurant owners for decades. Prior to Katrina, La Cuisine shared the Fleur de Lis area with Tony Angello's and at one time Bacchi and the Odyssey Grill shared the Harrison area with the Steak Knife. Of those five, only Angello’s and the Steak Knife survive, confirming that even great locations and delicious food provide no guarantees in the restaurant business.