Tucked under the Perkins Road Overpass, BLDG 5 appears diminutive, a modest clapboard-sided building with a shallow-sloped roof.
Inside, the restaurant goes on and on, with a huge patio and three bustling dining areas where plates of robust, enticing meals are served.
BLDG 5 feels like a kind of secret supper club.
Owners Brumby and Misti Broussard opened BLDG 5 in November two buildings down from Kalurah Street Grill in one of Baton Rouge’s most interesting dining districts.
Smalls Sliders may change the way you think about bags of little fast-food burgers.
Entering for the first time from the gravel parking lot, diners stop and take a look around. Mismatched thrift store tables and chairs pack the floor. Natural light floods the second room, jazz and upbeat pop fill the air, and rustic reclaimed wood covers the walls. It’s comfortably busy, the kind of restaurant where diners feel free to linger over long lunches.
To the left of the front door a line often forms from the counter, and customers browse coolers filled with soups, meals and salads and shelves full of food-focused gift items, including tea towels, cheese boards and wine bags.
On a weekday in December, I tried BLDG 5 for the first time, and I almost turned away. With cars parked all along Kalurah Street, I drove around searching for a spot and found one located a good hike down the road. But inside, the line to the counter moved quickly, and I ordered the Cajun pork stew ($12). I took a table number and found a small table along a bank of windows in the second dining room.
My food arrived in a few minutes — an appetizing heap of stew atop white rice, with green English peas and a slice of crispy hearty bread, all on an ivory plate. The pork stew was flavorful and spicy, with soft onions and celery complementing the soft braised pork. On the side, the green peas tasted a bit like they had just defrosted after a stint in the freezer, and the crisp bread helped to sop up all the bits of brown gravy left from the stew.
The next time I visited BLDG 5, a police officer was posted on Kalurah Street ticketing cars that had haphazardly parked along the street outside the restaurant and other nearby businesses. Plenty of parking is available beneath Interstate 10 for those willing to walk, but competition is stiff for spots outside the front doors of Kalurah Street Grill and BLDG 5.
As a lifelong meat eater, I have never considered becoming a vegetarian or vegan.
That day I went for the crabcake plate ($13), a well-seasoned five-ounce cake with onions and a few red peppers cooked in. The crabcake was well balanced — just a little on the rich side — and crunchy with a creamy rémoulade sauce that carried a lingering aftertaste of lemon.
For my veggies, I chose asparagus — four thick well-cooked stalks dusted with a light, pungent cheese. A mixed green salad featured feta cheese and was coated with a tart vinaigrette.
Just like my previous meal, I scraped every morsel off the plate.
I made one more trip to BLDG 5 on the day before Christmas Eve. All around the tables by the entrance, I heard reunited friends and family catching up over lunch. At the counter, I asked for a recommendation from the staff when ordering a protein plate ($14), which includes a choice of chicken, seafood or beef paired with a sauce. I settled on the steak with chimichurri sauce. It arrived at my table quickly, five slices of what appeared to be a flank steak with a pink core and a crisp exterior served atop a bed of nutty cooked grains.
The steak was perfectly fine by itself, tender with just a little marbled fat, but the thin green sauce added a flair of citrus, vinegar and pepper. For a side I chose from a menu of fresh vegetables, settling on the harissa-roasted carrots, which appeared a bit redder than normal and tasted slightly smoky and modestly spicy because of the harissa, a Tunisian red pepper paste.
This lunch was at once homey and exotic, with worldly touches layered upon familiar rib-sticking favorites.
After only two months in business and a healthy social media buzz, BLDG 5 is not a secret, but it still feels like one. Just walk in and feel like part of the club.
2805 Kalurah St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
(225) 256-2287 or bldg5.com
PROS: Hearty, interesting dishes; comfortable atmosphere.
CONS: Lack of parking.