In an attempt to cut back on my constantly controlling every aspect of our lives, last week I asked Jason to surprise me for our date night. I felt totally wild. He managed to keep the secret until we approached the place… French Louie. I had heard of it, but didn’t know really anything about it, so it was a perfect surprise, and turned out to be a great meal.
In an attempt to save myself, and my readers some time, I’m going to try and scale back my writing a bit, and just go over the high/low points:
The drinks were phenomenal: I hesitantly got the Templeton’s Mule, worrying that it might be too sweet, but it was weird and awesome… it was like drinking a wonderful gin soda. I stuck with this drink throughout the whole meal, which I rarely do. Jason’s Amour Fou was great too.
Jason was a little hesitant to try the smoked sardines, but they were a highlight of the meal… I would definitely start with them again if we came back.
I got a big vein in my foie. I know, it happens, but it grossed me out. Other than that all of the flavors were good, but I would take a pass on this dish if we came back.
For some reason, Jason and I can never resist a steak tartare and they’re almost always great. But this one stood out as extra flavorful with an awesome smooth texture… the steak was chopped really finely and combined with the yolk and mustard and pickles it was one of our favorite tartares to date.
The snails were good, but would be another pass on the next visit. There were four large snails in the whole plate, and so much else going on on the dish. It tasted good, but was not one of our favs.
Ok, if you go to this place, the bread pudding side is without a doubt the MUST order item. We begrudgingly added it on to our order just to get a vegetable in, and breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief when it arrived, completely gluttonous and almost entirely veggie free. Imagine all of the most amazing parts of French onion soup… the bread and delicious melty cheese on top with the sweetness of the onions, and then add Madeira wine and ham. For being a last minute “add on” item, we literally thanked God that we ordered it. I believe he had intervened to make this part of our meal… the truest definition of faith, I think.
The last course of our meal was the chestnut gnocchi, another great standout. Again there was a ton going on on this plate, but it all worked awesomely together. The gnocchis were light and cooked perfectly: each one a little crispy on the outside with a pillowy center. And while I was convinced the huckleberries were the same as blueberries, I really didn’t care… the weird combo of flavors made each bite unique and exciting.
For dessert we did the special crepe cake. It was delicious, with a “bruleed” top and cooling mint slivers, but not my favorite for some reason. There was a weird flavor in the cake that I couldn’t figure out.
After dinner at French Louie, we headed to the Grand Army Bar, just a few blocks away. When we walked in, we were instantly confused. They were pretty full, but we found a spot in the bar area by the window. The walls were white and bright, but the restaurant was very dark. There were beardless hipsters with plaid shirts on and long braided hair, but I think they were also trying to be cowboys with bandanas on, too. So we were in the wild wild west, but then there was a huge raw bar selection, and I didn’t know that hipster cowboys ate oysters. And they seemed to be honoring Native Americans with the heavy woven curtain at the entrance, but I thought cowboys and Native Americans were enemies. Jason and I were overwhelmed, but got over it and managed to select a few cocktails (the Quartz Mountain and the Fountainhead), which arrived promptly. They were OK at best: I like my drinks strong, but they seemed quite unbalanced. Then the really bad thing started to happen… every 15 minutes or so… it was awful: someone in the bar/restaurant would detonate a stink bomb. The first time it happened, Jason and I looked at each other and asked, “What the F is that smell?” We spent a few minutes trying to figure it out as it started to permeate my clothing and hair… I could feel it becoming part of my being; I felt victimized. It seemed to fade away within a few minutes but then – alas – it was back about 15 minutes later. Again we frantically looked around the restaurant trying to figure out what menu item could possibly be yielding such a horrific armpitty/oniony smell, to no avail. The smell dissipated and we hoped it would never come back. However, on the third wave, we paid our bill and escaped, with our drinks unfinished… something I would only do in a true emergency situation. WTF was that smell? I may never know, and I will not be back to the Grand Army Bar anytime soon to try to figure it out. Ew. Grand Army gets a two star Baconboozer rating.
So aside from the stink bomb incident after dinner, our evening was wonderful. The standouts at French Louie were great cocktails, smoked sardines, tartare, the bread pudding, and the gnocchi. The other dishes weren’t total flops, but fell to the bottom of our list. Service was a little weird: we switched waiters halfway through the meal without explanation… who we thought was our busboy took over for our waitress which confused us. But they were both good so it didn’t really matter. The ambiance was nice: a fancy casual vibe. We saw them happily accommodate a baby, which I liked… babies are cool. I would like to take a quick second to applaud that baby’s family for entertaining him with books and age appropriate toys instead of a phone or iPad… how novel of an idea – but that’s a totally separate rant.
French Louie, you get four stars, and we look forward to returning soon! In fact, we really might have to because I have craved that bread pudding every day since we ate there. Thanks!!!