Old World Charm Meets Modernity at Lou Lou’s
From its opulent interiors – think leather seats and dark oak finishes – to its welcoming staff and tapas-inspired menu, Lou Lou’s should be next on your list for a visit, says Ayesha Binkowski.
Lou Lou’s doesn’t fail to disappoint in warm welcomes. Upon arrival, I was immediately welcomed with the most refreshing margarita. This chic bar and restaurant has the makings of an old school cigar lounge with a humming, party atmosphere. And, with a new-age menu taking tapas to new heights, Lou Lou’s manages to effortlessly fuse Asian, Italian and contemporary cuisine. I had the pleasure of exploring the menu in detail with Executive Chef Chantelle de Souza and Owner James Truter.
“The interior reminds me of a very elegant whiskey hotel bar and a little bit of New York flavour,” says James, “I love New York it’s one of my favourite destinations in the world. I love the look and feel of it and saw there was real opportunity to capture your local pub type influences within the Cape Quarter. I want this place to be somewhere that people love to come to with friends or family, like visiting my own home.”
My six-course started with a combination of three of their top starters. First, was Seared Tuna bathed in lime mayo, every bite with a distinctly fresh Thai twist. Next, a large portion of perfectly seasoned Beef Carpaccio, with parmesan, mushroom, rocket, capers and a medium-size crostino to completed this traditional Italian starter. Lastly, Trio of Dips was served. Very enjoyable with home-baked focaccia to dip the hummus, tzatziki, aubergines and olives. A delicious trip around the Mediterranean on a plate. Starters were paired with a gin and Indian tonic spice mixed cocktail.
According to Chef Chantelle, the menu was a collaboration between herself and James. “ It’s just what our customers want and what works for us,” she explains, “The menu changes seasonally.” And her favourite dish? “It’s the Thai Beef Salad – I love making it. It is fresh and minty, with a punchy spice dressing.”
Lou Lou’s has fourteen fascinating mains to choose from, and, like the owner, chef and establishment itself, it’s straightforward with a twist of the unexpected. Think Jack Daniels Burgers or Cauliflower Risotto – even traditional Bobotie. This showcases Lou Lou’s diverse personality. “She’s been all over the world,” James laughs.
I start my main with gusto. It’s Linguine Al Gambier an Argentinian prawn with a napolitana sauce, chilli, garlic and parsley. This dish is as creamy as promised, with the chilli giving it an extra kick and the prawns perfectly cooked. Of course, after hearing Chef Chantelle, tell me her favourite dish, I had to try it! The Thai Beef Salad is beautifully plated and unexpectedly delicious. What I thought was a nutty bite, turned out to be small specs of toasted and crushed basmati rice – and not overly spiced or hot, either.
James believes that Chef Chantelle brings life to Lou Lou’s menu. “The food she serves to Lou Lou’s customers is what keeps bringing everyone back. Including our excellent cocktails and services.
I love when food is made with happiness. Because then the customers are going to be happy.”
The evening culminated with a dessert of Tiramisu. Most restaurants would be hesitant to place this dessert on the menu – both because it is common, it can easily be made incorrectly. This was not the case for Lou Lou’s. The tiramisu was definitely a showstopper: very smooth and every bite had a combination of flavour exploding in your mouth. It was paired with a strong, spicy gin called Muti – a South African Brand and Indian spiced tonic cocktail.
The final verdict? Lou Lou’s is definitely a must-visit this summer.