HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
HAPPY HOUR: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (half-priced premium wells, beer, draught and house wines)
Live jazz is featured every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In the 1930s, Joe Walters bought a circa 1921 pool hall, Antlers, on Jefferson Street in Downtown Lafayette. A few years later, he moved the business across the street to 555 Jefferson. Eventually, he got out of the business, leaving Antlers dormant for several years. But, in the mid-80s, Joe’s son, Raymond Sr., revived the place, adding home-cooked plate lunches to the billiard parlor. “He loved to cook,” Raymond’s son, Johnny, says of his father.
Over the years, Raymond’s kids, Raymond Jr., Julie and Johnny, worked in the restaurant along with their many cousins. With its delicious plate lunches by day and live music on weekends, Antlers became a Downtown hot spot. Twelve years ago, Johnny and his wife, Jennifer, bought the business.Ever the gourmand, Johnny wanted more. A steak lover, he decided to open a steakhouse. “I’d always wanted to do food at night,” he says. “I couldn’t do that concept Downtown.”
About four years ago, Johnny Walters started scouting properties in the Le Triomphe area and heard a rumor that a restaurant on Highway 90 near the gated golf course community was for sale. When he called the number listed, he got the shopping center’s owner, Robert McCarthy, who told him that the vacant property next to the golf course was available.
“It was a no brainer,” Walters says.
“Look at the view!” Walters leased the property and opened his 6,300-square-foot standalone restaurant, Antlers Seafood & Steakhouse, in April. With soaring ceilings, tile “wood” floors, antique sinker cypress walls, outdoor patio and picture windows overlooking Le Triomphe’s fourth hole, the steak house has no resemblance to its sister restaurant Downtown. But it still serves Antlers’ famed plate lunches, including smothered round steak, pork chops and chicken and shrimp stew, along with chicken and sausage gumbo, hamburgers, sandwiches and salads. At night, the menu goes gourmet with unique appetizers, charcuterie board with house-smoked and cured meats, hand-cut Allen Brothers steaks, fresh seafood and homemade desserts. Dinner items are also available at lunch.
Favorites include the duck and tasso spring roll appetizer served with sweet red pepper flake glaze, the 16-ounce dry-aged Kansas City bone-in strip, sea bass and Jan’s Bread Pudding (Walters’ Momapproved secret recipe). Others to try are the Antlers burger with hand-cut garlic salt shoe string fries served on a cutting board, and the “BLT Hole in One” (house candied bacon, avocado, blackened tomato, lettuce and mayo).
But, don’t let the upscale menu fool you. Walters decided to nix the white tablecloth experience in favor of cozy booths, contemporary benches and chairs and scored concrete floors. “You can come in shorts or suits,” he explains. “We didn’t want to be too fancy.”
Local interior decorator Cheri Roane helped the Walterses design the oldmeets-new-world interior, while Daniel Danenberg crafted the stunning bar backsplash. The restaurant seats about 200 patrons and has a private room with a video projector accommodating up to 40.
Helping Walters run the restaurant are General Manager Eddie Gaspard, and managers Tim Lambert and Stuart Hebert. Heading the spacious kitchen are Executive Chefs Jeff Svendson and Brad Berwick. Keeping with family tradition, Svendon’s mom, Lue Svendson, did the landscaping. Walters’ sister, Julie Breaux, did the artwork.
Walters says that he would like to open another restaurant one day. But for now, he is concentrating on what he loves best. “I love food!” he exclaims. “Just like my Dad used to say, there is nothing like people enjoying your food.” — Lisa Hanchey