Friday, January 9, 2015

How to Order Louie's Hash Browns: A Case Study

This blog post has been inspired by this review of Louie's in The Advocate. 

Louie's Cafe
Louie's Cafe

As a woman from Sulphur, Louisiana, 24-hour local diners were hard to find growing up. KD's in Lake Charles is the only option, so moving to Baton Rouge for school and spending many a drunken night at Louie's left a permanent grease stain on my capital home. Having never ventured to the new Louie's Cafe, Team Bite and Booze took a trip to the end of State Street for lunch.

When we were seated, it was nearly 1 p.m. on a Friday. Jay, our intern Sydney, and I had just dropped off a case of Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce at the new Matherne's Market downtown.

Throughout my five years in Baton Rouge, Louie's had mainly been a college post-bar chow-down at the old, typically crowded location where I'd drop my fork and run when the fry cooks yelled that my car was being towed. Now I'm an LSU graduate that can hardly stay awake long enough to catch an episode of Golden Girls before bed who works full time for Jay Ducote at Bite and Booze. I have no dietary restrictions so my go-to Louie's dish is anything.

Upon arrival I immediately pulled into a spot, because we all know the parking is the #1 feature of the new Louie's — duh. As it turns out, the inside of the new Louie's looks exactly like the pictures posted on months ago. Having seen those photos and knowing exactly what to expect, I was simply excited to see the diner in the daylight for the first time in a while.

Louie's looks almost the same as it did at its previous location with the exception of the much-adored beach mural. Other than more bar seating with power outlet strips and more table seating, many of the exact same furnishings (curtains, stools, chairs, perhaps the bathroom doors) have been transported to the new location.

Being that it wasn't the usual rush time between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., it was a seat yourself kind of gig. Our waitress promptly greeted our table with menus and asked for our drink order. She was neither pleasant nor rude, just how I like my Louie's waitresses.

Things just "are" at Louie's. The service isn't bad and it isn't magical. The late night hours may get crazy, but I've always found that asking for something when I need it is a decent way to help out the waitstaff that is basically waiting on a lot of adults turned cranky toddlers.

Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs with Hash Browns
Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs with Hash Browns

I had the chicken fried steak and eggs ($11.95) sunny-side up served with hash browns and a biscuit. I ordered my hash browns seasoned because to have them any other way would be insane. I like to treat Louie's hash browns like I would treat my child. Sure, I'll have better and I'll have worse, but I love them just the way they are.

My meal appeared to be everything I thought it would be, as all of the components promised with the dish were present. Each bite was mostly amazing, but the first bite was phenomenal.

Jay retreated to an old favorite of his, the "Mitchell," an omelet filled with sausage, hash browns, cheese, and sautéed mushrooms ($11.25).

As an item he’s eaten many times over the years, he provided an in-depth analysis of his selection, saying the hash browns were the best part.

“It was well-seasoned, good flavor,” he said. “Scrambled eggs are a great base for an omelet, but they weren't overwhelmingly fluffy."

He said he also enjoyed the mushrooms, but as always, wishes there was an option to finish it off with a chocolate chip pancake for dessert.

The Big Cheesy Lou with Pepper Jack Hash
The Big Cheesy Lou with Pepper Jack Hash

Sydney had the Big Cheesy Lou ($11.70) with a side of pepper jack hash (hash browns covered in jack cheese and pickled jalapeños).

"It was very burger-like, with a bun, beef patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard," she said. "It was extremely adequate."

She described the hash browns saying, "Them browns tho...that's that good shit."

As I downed my meal and sipped my coffee, I soon found myself with an empty cup that was quickly refilled with more coffee. The restaurant began to fill up with lunch patrons ready to fill their bellies following the Friday morning work struggle, and so began the normal business of the waitstaff near the end of our meal.

Our waitress never offered us dessert, but had I not eaten a hearty lunch I would have probably tried their delicious, large, big bang-for-your-buck bread pudding. While diner desserts usually aren't photogenic, they're usually worth the bite.

Overall, we left with satisfied tummies and a bill around $40 for three people. That’s a small part of Louie’s appeal — you won't get magical service that leaves you sparkling with glitter in places that you wouldn't imagine, but this classic Baton Rouge grub hub boasts that Louie's charm we all know and love.

Blair Loup
Chief Confusion Coordinator
Bite and Booze

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