I first heard about Louie Louie, a new cafe/bar/restaurant from the guys who own nearby Fowlds Café, from Jay Rayner’s review in the Guardian. He liked everything but the natural wine list – I can’t say I’m a fan either – but it’s certainly something that’s growing in popularity.
The restaurant definitely stands out on the Walworth Road – mainly because it looks quite nice. Inside it’s a simple space; tables are candlelit and tightly packed in, there’s a bar with a few stools and a convivial atmosphere.
We start with some light and fluffy bread (£3.50) which perfectly soaks up the olive oil and mashed up tomato. Fermented feta (£3.50) is a particularly nice, and pungent, companion for it all. The menu is the work of Oded Oren, who is their chef in residence.
12 hour cured hake (£5) is doused in more of that lovely olive oil. The fish is room temperature – so often these kinds of dishes are served straight from the fridge and therefore lack any flavour whatsoever.
Skewered lamb sweetbreads (£10) are soft and squidgy with a crisp exterior. A good squeeze of lemon helps liven up the fatty morsels. Bavette skewers (£15), that’s beef, are super rare and have an aged beefy flavour.
Burnt beets (£7.50) is a pretty lil’ thing. Thin slices of multicoloured beetroots are topped with sour cream; the blend between creamy and crunchy is lush. Bream and hake kebabs (£17) are full of herbs and come with “chraime” – a spicy tomato sauce which is delicious.
For pud, pressed chocolate cake (£6) comes with a dollop of soured cream to cut through the richness – and it does so perfectly. A gentle nudge of the plate makes the cardamom panna cotta (£6) wobble all over the place – I absolutely love a wobbly pudding. Topped with sharp rhubarb it’s another contrasting flavour combination that works marvellously.
Louie Louie is the sort of restaurant that areas like the Walworth Road are crying out for. Some might call it gentrification but as the old proverb goes ‘ build it and they will come’. Never a truer word has been said.