Cool, casual and contemporary, Bar Louie’s a good place to meet friends after work or have a quiet business lunch. Its menu goes beyond the tapas or appetizer offerings at most bars, with an assortment of flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts.
Located in the former Bravo! Cucina Italiana building behind the Mall of Louisiana, the interior’s open floor plan features a bar across the front, another rectangular bar in the cavernous room’s center, and lots of windows. Decor includes dark paneling, burgundy and gold walls, mosaic tile accents, large lampshade chandeliers, exposed beams, brushed nickel ceiling fans, large framed photos and several mounted TVs. A giant bar scene mural dominates a rear wall above the eatery’s few booths.
Music leans to modern rock — Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” and Cage the Elephant’s “Come a Little Closer” — and classic rock like the Rolling Stones’ “Under my Thumb.”
For a late lunch on a recent Sunday, we started things off with the Bavarian pretzel sticks ($8.75). Four large, warm pretzel sticks arrived along with small serving dishes of cinnamon butter, queso and honey mustard. We dove right in to the appetizer, liking all the dipping sauces, with the stand-out being the sweet, creamy cinnamon butter. The menu says these delicious dips are made from scratch daily. A guest and I each had one stick with the various dips, and found it quite filling, so much so that we were only able to eat half of our sandwiches when they arrived.
The bacon and fried egg sandwich ($8.75) was served on wonderful, slightly crunchy multi-grain bread. Between the slices were applewood smoked bacon, a fried egg, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo. Cooked over easy, the egg stayed nicely inside the flavorful sandwich (no dripping). The bacon-and-egg combo would make a good brunch choice as well. We found the accompanying crunchy tater tots a bit greasy.
My guest enjoyed the California chicken club ($11.25), also served on multi-grain, and offering a large grilled chicken breast, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pepper Jack cheese and smoked onion ranch spread. A pleasing and very substantial sandwich, served with fries.
Returning for lunch a few days later, a friend tried the chop chop salad (add chicken) priced at $13.25. Before thinking that sounds steep for a salad, keep in mind that the serving size was overly generous, big enough for two meals. The ingredients were fresh, and the iceberg lettuce was still crispy when she ate the leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Also tossed in were bacon, tomatoes, avocados, carrots, blue cheese crumbles, onion, garbanzo beans, eggs, cucumbers, tortilla strips and a house dressing.
What made this salad satisfying, my friend said, was how all of the ingredients were given equal play with no one ingredient overpowering the others. The grilled chicken was added in equal proportion to the lettuce, and complemented the dish without overpowering it.
The four tacos plate ($12.50) offered four small, easy to handle, tacos filled with onion, cilantro, avocado, queso fresco, salsa, and my protein choice, verde chicken (blackened fish is the other option). Packing a pleasing spiciness in each flour tortilla shell, this was a filling lunch. Rather bland black beans and rice were served on the side.
Although we found nothing out-of-this-world on the menu, we liked everything we sampled. Bar Louie’s big drawback for us was the service, particularly on Sunday afternoon. We can understand waiting longer periods of time for food when a place is getting slammed, but there were only a few other occupied tables. We made the mistake of sitting near the front, while the wait staff seemed to stay toward the back. There were long stretches in between our friendly server’s visits. At lunch, we sat in one of the rear booths, and got more attentive service.
Robin Miller contributed to this review.