LaRue Elm is recreating itself
By: Jennifer Zeleski
With Brad Byers at the helm, the restaurant is in the midst of an interior renovation, welcoming a new executive chef and establishing a new menu.
“Everybody has a past. Every building has a past,” Byers said. He wants guests to “judge [LaRue] by future experiences. That’s why we call it the new LaRue.”
Byers knew he had a vision for the restaurant when he spoke with the owner of the building, located at 403 N. Elm Street around 10 years ago.
“I told him I was either going to own this place or run this place,” Byers said. He is now the operating partner that oversees LaRue Elm, Rue Bar, and the recently-opened Southside Diner. His hopes are high for the three locations.
“You can have your dinner at LaRue, your nightcap at Rue Bar and have your breakfast at Southside Diner,” Byers said.
Southside Diner will also have a midnight menu from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends, where guests can get all of their breakfast favorites after a night spent in downtown Greensboro. They will also be partnering in the future with Uber Eats, as well as LaRue so that both locations can deliver locally.
Overall, Byers is hoping the LaRue influence helps with creating a sense of unity within the city.
“It’s Greensboro. We don’t turn anyone away; we welcome everyone here,” Byers said.
LaRue will be hosting the Greensboro Pride kick-off party on Friday, Oct. 19 to honor their commitment to unity, and celebrate the local LGBTQ+ community. Byers plans on the event being a big surprise for guests, and he wants to make it exciting.
“We want to make it boom,” he said. “For Greensboro Pride and A&T Homecoming, the place to be is LaRue, Rue Bar, and Southside Diner.”
Even with all of the changes, updates, and events, there will be a grand opening held for LaRue Elm on Oct. 26. To get a taste of what is in progress and what is to come, Byers welcomed my boyfriend Peyton and I to experience the new menu.
The menu was recreated by Byers and the new executive chef, William Paraham. Paraham worked with him to include a cowboy ribeye steak, fried green tomatoes and other Southern-style classics he wanted to bring to the restaurant.
But there were also some New Orleans- style dishes, Asian-inspired ingredients, wings, burgers and more. The variety caused the menu to be a bit discombobulated. I was left wondering what style I should stick to, or if I should just order from across the board.
Our first choice was the spinach and strawberry salad. Fresh spinach with sliced strawberries, soft crumbled goat cheese, and candied pecans was simple and admirable. The other salads were also recognizable, with a cobb, Caesar, iceberg wedge and house.
The salad’s flavor paired was complemented by the balsamic vinaigrette, and would pair well with any of the protein options that can be added for an additional charge. I would be interested in returning and seeing how the grilled chicken, salmon or steak tips are prepared as toppings.
The fried green tomatoes, per Byers’s suggestion, were well-cooked with panko breading, topped with chipotle aioli and lump crab. The tomatoes were warm and tender around the outside but were cut just a bit too thick to be completely done in the center. However, the crab was a nice touch, and fried exterior set the standard for other fried dishes on the menu.
Peyton’s main course was the shrimp and grits, made with chorizo sausage, pork belly, and stone-ground yellow cheddar grits. It was slightly higher than the average price range on the menu but came with a large portion of grits. Peyton was satisfied with the well-cooked shrimp and the flavor the chorizo offered. He commented highly on the bell peppers and onions that brought the flavors together, although the dish was very creamy, savory and could get heavy depending on how hungry you are upon ordering.
In order to fully experience the seafood influence of the menu, which was very apparent and only challenged by a list of beef options, we also shared the bacon-wrapped Cajun scallops. The scallops had a tender texture, weren’t overdone and paired nicely with the smoky flavor of the bacon. We agreed that the bacon could have been a bit crisper, but if the scallops’ tenderness would have been sacrificed, it wasn’t worth getting a better bite of bacon. As an entrée, the dish needs a side to cut the richness and still be filling enough for a meal, but any of the a la carte options would fit right in.
The largest plate was that of the linguine primavera, made with seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic, truffle olive oil, parmesan cheese and a choice of creamy butter or marinara sauce. I opted for the latter, hoping to avoid a greasy pairing of pasta and vegetables.
The dish was the only vegetarian option for a full portion and seemed to miss the mark on care and attention that other dishes had. The seasonal vegetables could have benefitted from a focus on selection rather than portion. The inclusion of broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms was good, but some of the others could have been left out. I was also a bit disappointed in the lack of flavor in the marinara sauce with roasted garlic and hoped there would be a more impressive combination of flavors overall.
When the menu gets a bit more focused, we think the food will be taken to a whole new level. One that lets certain dishes shine and brings strong ingredients to the forefront for guests to enjoy and devour.
There are several areas of the restaurant that are adaptable for a variety of events and seating options. There was live music that we enjoyed and wasn’t too loud or bothersome, there is a bar for those who may just be in the mood for a cocktail, and a spacious rooftop patio could be a great place for Sunday brunch or a weekday lunch.
The location, as well as Rue Bar and Southside Diner, will be focusing on hosting and welcoming more guests in the future and expanding their reach through the community. I am excited to see how the interior changes at LaRue Elm prior to the grand re-opening, and I am sure the upcoming events will be even more entertaining.
Jennifer Zeleski is a student contributor to YES! Weekly. She is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communications at High Point University.