When: August 28.2007
Where: Louie's 106 (6th & Congress)
What I had: Appetizers: Bread with oil, parmesan, garlic, red pepper, and spices. Calamari with Tartar and Marinara.
Main: Paella Valencia (Saffron Rice with Chicken, Sausage, Assorted Fish, Shrimp and Mussels)
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon (Atlantic Salmon Filet, Pan-seared and served with Chermoula and Romesco Sauce, Creamy Scalloped Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus)
What I Thought: We had the extreme good fortune of coming across a coupon in The Chronicle for buy one entree' and get one free. Hence, the reason we got to enjoy such a fine dining establishment. Due to my personal financial circumstances I have only dined at a handful of fine dining establishments, so forgive me if my comparisons are sub-par or if I sound like a layman.
First, my expectations. For me, High Prices = Small Portions. I was fine with this fact because I was getting one plate for free and am okay with paying more for less when it comes to fancy ingredients. Secondly I had very, very high expectations that the food would be incredible. Now, $20-28 a plate isn't a ton, but in my mind the food should be incredible. I thought service would either be really rude/stuck up/better than thou attitude or incredibly helpful. Just how were my expectations met?
Louie's provided me with portions unheard of. LARGE and filling. The fact that a fine dining establishment would expect me to pay $22.50 for something and then give me my money's worth blew my mind! We started with the standard loaf of bread dipped into oil, spices, red pepper, Parmesan. The bread was fresh and tasty and the oil was very clean. We stuck with water to drink when informed that the Raspberry/Peach Tea came bottled. Strange? Yes. Anyways, the bread was a good start and the dipping mixture was fantastic. On to the Calamari.
As you can see, the Calamari did not last long. Why? It was fantastic! My wife and I both agreed it was probably the best Calamari we have had to date. Fresh and crisp with a flavorful batter and fully furnished with lemons, house tartar, and a unique marinara dipping sauce. Quite possibly the Calamari was the highlight of the night. In fact for a mere 8 dollars it is simply an amazing price for the portion and quality of this appetizer. If you perchance visit Louie's 106 heed these words: Start your meal with the Calamari.
The entrees, to be honest, did not meet my expectations. Each dish seemed to have one or two slight downfalls. The Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon was a huge chunk of Salmon. The pumpkin seeds added a very unique texture and flavor to the Salmon. For some reason the salmon just didn't blow our minds. We expected something amazing and just got average. Not to brag but my wife even said "You've made better." Talk about ego inflation. If you happend to land a bite with enough sauce, some chermoula and salmon then it was tasty but not mind blowing. I expect a 22 dollar salmon dish to be exceptional, it wasn't. HOWEVER, the redemption of this plate lies not in the salmon but under the salmon. The creamy scalloped potatoes will make you cry out in joy. Seriously they are that good. Savory, creamy, buttery, and perfectly cooked. If nothing else just ask for a side of these potatoes.
Now, the Paella Valencia. This dish was probably the biggest disappointment of the night. The dish wasn't bad. It just wasn't great either. Similar to the Salmon, it didn't meet expectations. We ordered this dish over the Seafood Risotto because, honestly, the "saffron experience" suckered us into ordering it. It is definetly a unique dish but it's fatal flaw was simply the fact that all the flavors did not meld together. While I admit, I want to be able to taste and seperate my scallops, from my shrimp, from my calamari, I also want them to blend well together and compliment one another. Sadly, the scallop lacked flavor beyond "fish" and the calamari was rubbery. Not to mention by about the 7th bite I was on seafood overload. This dish is so rich and
so overpowering we only made our way through about a third of it. The sausage was unique and in fact fantastic, however, once again it stood out on it's own not as a dish.
Although I knocked our main dishes I was pretty dang satisfied with the value we got. Even though we used a coupon our waitress was helpful, cheerful, and overall very attentive. We had a full glass the whole time and were checked on just the right amount of times. If you get the chance check out Louie's 106. Just give the Tuna a try for us!
PROS: Great Value for price, Amazing Calamari, Helpful Friendly Service, Affordable Fine Dining Date Spot, The Best Scalloped Potatoes in the World, Interesting Flavors.
CONS: Mains didn't blow us out of the water (Is that really a con? We only got to try two, I am sure the others are amazing. We did see lots of steaks going out to customers. Beef could be a good choice.)