Stab’s offers fine dining with rare attention to diners’ satisfaction

Upscale Central restaurant laced with elegant touches

It’s been amusing telling Baton Rougeans about the relatively new fine dining restaurant in Central, just to see their confused expressions. It’s as if “fine dining” and “Central” do not compute when used together.

Well, this is not your father’s Central. And Stab’s Steak and Seafood isn’t a big fish in a small pond.

Stab’s is definitely upscale, not only in its menu prices but with the tastefulness of its architecture and decor. Outside, a large fountain with a flaming gas torch is the visual centerpiece for the patio, and dark wood floors, a wrought iron bannister along the balcony stairs and tasteful, framed photos add elegant touches to the interior. Yet, Stab’s is anything but pretentious. On the weeknight we visited, patron attire ranged from heading-to-the-theater to just-left-the-warehouse. All seemed equally at home.

Our table was dressed somewhere between those extremes, and our outing was enhanced by David, an excellent waiter, who seemed knowledgeable about the menu, offered helpful suggestions, was friendly without trying to get himself added to our last wills and testaments and took care to see that all was to our liking. More on that later.

We began with the crab cake appetizer ($16). Forget every crab cake you’ve ever eaten, particularly those that are more cake than crab. Stab’s version has not one iota of breading, but is a mound of lump crab meat accented with a tangy, creamy ravigote sauce. The portion is sufficient for a party of two.

Ribeye is one of our favorite steaks, with the marbling that adds so much flavor, and Stab’s 14-ounce ribeye ($39) does nothing to change our minds. It was cooked to buttery, medium-rare perfection. This thick cut had the silkiest texture and a hearty flavor. This steak does not come with a side order, and the macaroni and cheese was almost decadent ­— cheddar, Fontana and Romano cheeses blended into creamy goodness.

Likewise, the rack of lamb ($39) was quite good, and gave our waiter another chance to shine. We ordered it cooked medium, and he asked us to cut it to see if it was cooked to order, and suggested we send it back to the kitchen because it was too rare. Rare also describes this kind of attention to diners’ satisfaction. When he returned the plate, it was to order, and most satisfying.

The redfish on the half shell ($36) featured a large filet topped with three large fried oysters and a lemon-butter sauce that accented everything well. The fish was perfectly prepared, as were the oysters, which had a thin, crisp batter but were plumb and moist. This came with grilled green beans, onions and cherry tomatoes. The beans retained their crispness and appeared to be brushed with butter, making for a pleasant side dish. The fish of the day ($26) was black drum, and also was drizzled with lemon-butter sauce and was equally enjoyable.

Stab’s version of bread pudding ($10) has a rich, white chocolate flavoring that makes this stand out from more traditional versions, and the creme brulee was perfectly prepared — a wafer-thin crust over the creamiest of custards, so light that there’s room even after the most filling of meals.

A mere 20-minute drive from the midcity, Stab’s will definitely get a return visit.