With a name that evokes some classic hotel and a menu of cafe favorites, The Rutledge would fit in on a busy downtown street.
The bustling White Star Market food hall on Government Street could be the next best thing.
The Rutledge, which opened in White Star in June, serves breakfast and lunch and a few dinner specials, focusing on sandwiches and salads and using impeccable ingredients, including bread from Bellegarde Bakery in New Orleans and sumptuous cuts of meat.
Chef Jenn Breithaupt elevates lunch counter staples, such as a Reuben sandwich or tuna salad, by simply aiming for some of the best versions of these humble dishes.
The Rutledge was created by Breithaupt and Scott Higgins, a sommelier who is a partner at White Star's bar, Mouton, and 3Tails Wine and Cheese across the breezeway from the food hall in the Square 46 development.
During my first visit to The Rutledge, I wanted to try everything on the menu. But my turn came at the counter, so I panicked and chose the burger ($10). Its description — ground beef short rib served on a brioche bun — lured me in. It came on a sesame seed bun that wasn’t bad, but didn’t taste like brioche.
While I enjoyed the cheeseburger, my palate could not discern a huge difference between the ground short rib and other premium burgers. I most likely wouldn’t order it again: It was great, but the menu features too many interesting options, and Baton Rouge has more amazing burgers than you can shake a spatula at.
On another trip to White Star, I met my friend for lunch. He ordered the Reuben ($12), which came filled with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on rye bread from Bellegarde Bakery. All these traditional Reuben ingredients create a balanced taste, but the thick, spicy pastrami really stood out. It tasted of beef and pepper much more than salt and preservatives.
I chose the seafood sandwich ($11.50), shrimp and crab salad with aioli on a hoagie bun. The tangy, oily aioli complemented the shellfish flavor of the tender shrimp and crab, a superior alternative to the regular old tuna or egg salad.
All these sandwiches come with Zapp’s potato chips. While Zapp's is a premium chip, I would love more options. Also, for the money, the portions seem small in comparison to other Baton Rouge-area sandwiches and burgers. But, I'd still consider that the dishes have great value because of the consistent high quality.
The last time I dined at White Star Market, I tried the Bresaola salad ($10) from The Rutledge. This small, beautiful salad consisted of thin sheets of cured beef tenderloin artfully arranged around a plate with arugula and capers. It imparted an impressive array of tastes for such a small, simple dish. Those hearty, salty delicate strips of beef combined with the additional sea salt sprinkled on top and the olive oil for a blast of savory flavor.
To accompany the small salad, I ordered a mini lime tart ($4.50), a sweet, airy dessert that could easily serve two.
The staff at The Rutledge have promised that the lunch and dinner menu should eventually expand. Whatever they decide to add, I expect good things.
This article is part of a series of reviews of White Star Market vendors.
Inside White Star Market, 4624 Government St.
11 a.m. to close Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to close Friday through Sunday
Pros: Premium ingredients, consistent quality
Cons: Small portions