Big changes come to the Lawrence

Mark Nanna now executive chef; new menu and decor reveal a renewed focus on the neighborhood
New drinks at the Lawrence

In its less than two years in business, the Lawrence has experienced more changes than one might expect from a place owned and operated by an industry vet like Darren Carr. Its revolving door of chefs has become somewhat of a joke in the business. Shane Devereux helped open the Midtown restaurant with elevated fare in oft-unusual combinations. When he left, Jonathan St. Hilaire stepped in, albeit briefly, tweaking the menu to focus on accessibility. Soon Jeff Sigler held the reigns, only to leave in late September.

Mark Nanna—previously of Flip Burger Boutique, Pura Vida, and Woodfire Grill—now helms the kitchen, a change kept under wraps until Carr was sure the transition was a good fit. Since he stepped in, Nanna has revamped the menu, bringing down the price point with a focus on small plates and reducing the number of entrees offered. There is now a “Snacks, Cheese & Things” section with lentil hummus, pimento cheese fritters, and marinated olives. Baby back ribs and oysters Rockefeller fall under starters. Sandwiches, like the pork belly B.L.T., are also available.

Carr has also added a wraparound patio to the restaurant and adjusted the decor inside to reflect a more neighborhood feel. The back wall now has moss pockets, and the word “beautiful” is scrawled across a mirror running the length of the restaurant. Quotes such as “I’ll drink to that” are written on blackboards, giving off a more playful vibe.

“It’s a different restaurant than it was at the beginning,” Carr says. “It was a little stiff when it opened. We’ve made it more comfortable and welcoming—a place you can visit twice a week instead of once a month.”

New cocktails like the Dickens—lime, ginger syrup, Amaro Ciociaro, bourbon, and Angostura, served on the rocks—are coming soon. The team is also working on establishing lunch service, but no launch date has been set.