Louie Louie is a friendly neighbourhood eatery in South East London. Opened 18 months ago, it is a café by day but turns into a casual restaurant and late night bar for the evenings.
The interiors are bright, clean and minimal; there are swathes of white surfaces with splashes of orange to add some colour.
Indeed, its orange awning above the pavements tables can be spotted from afar. It is a simple decor; kind of rustic meets urban.
Co-owner Chris is a former DJ so they also have speakers and sound systems plugged in for late night shenanigans. A series of narrow steps take you down to their very own speakeasy bar, complete with a piano and booth-seating for intimate live music sessions. The presence of a La Marzocco coffee machine and a V60 which means they mean serious business when it comes to coffee. No wonder that they are the winners of 2018 Love London Awards.
In terms of drinks, they serve a range of beers, good-looking cocktails and quality wines. They source beers from local breweries as much as possible and all their wines are organic, natural and bio-dynamic.
When it comes to food, Louie Louie have chefs on rotation who do residencies for a couple of weeks at a time. At the time of our visit, the chef-in-residence was James Donnelly. The ex-Palmerston (Lordship Lane, Dulwich) chef specialises in modern British cuisine. By the time you read this blog, he will be starting a new residency at the famous Sun and 13 Cantons in Soho (previous residents have included legends like Asma Khan and Sambal Shiok).
For our visit, we tasted a spectrum of James’s creations – mostly modernist small plates though main portion sizes are available – starting with the Tomato bread, Elderflower Pickled and Charred Mackerel (£4). The mackerel was shimmering and had a clean taste against the zesty pickled veg. The bread underneath had a good texture and soft crunch and the tomato, sloshed with olive oil, had some good flavours.
Next up was the Scallop and Salmon Tartare, Home-made Grilled Ciabatta, Crème Fraîche and Roe Dressing (£7) . The presentation was simple, with fresh chunks of salmon and buttery scallops, slathered with pesto. The pesto was not too heavy and offset the fish quite nicely. It also went quite well with the bread.
The highlight of the evening was definitely the Hake, Radish, Broad Bean Purée, Pea and Marjoram Relish (£7). It was elegantly presented; a fine piece of fish with slivers of radish and tiny peas tweezered around. It looked fresh, green and vibrant and was probably the best looking dish on the table. The fish itself was cooked to perfection; crisped on top and floating in that lovely sauce.
Meaty mains included Jerk-spiced Baby Chicken, Borlotti beans, Cucumber Yoghurt (£8). It was a bit rustic in presentation, a bit thrown-together and less photogenic. Perhaps a bit of green would have helped offset the monochrome on the plate. But once I took a bite of the chicken, all of that was forgiven and forgotten. The meat was soft and succulent, with delicious jerk spicing. It was lip-smackingly good!
Kris, from the beginning, had his eyes on the Roast Welsh Hogget, Black Olive Toast, Herb Sauce (£8) which has been a popular dish on the menu. We can see why. The lamb was tender and went very well with the thwack of pesto on the side. The pesto itself had quite a strong, lemony zing to it. The homemade olive bread was nice and soft with a bit of crunch on the edge. It was so tasty we decided to stop talking about it and just eat!
On the evening of our visit, the place slowly but surely got filled with diners. Clearly, it is a popular hangout amongst the locals as everyone seem to know and address each other by first names. The food is moderately priced and the service is down-to-earth friendly.
On a street surrounded by supermarkets, betting shops and chain cafés, newcomer Louie Louie sparkles like a little gem.
Location: 347 Walworth Road, London SE17 2AL
More information can be found here
N.B. I was invited to review by ResDiary but all photos and opinions are mine.