More Than Bar Food
The new Bar Louie in Skokie opens its doors
No matter what you're in the mood for, Bar Louie probably has you covered.
Starting with gigantic sandwiches and branching out, Bar Louie has developed a reputation for bar food that goes above and beyond burgers and wings – though make no mistake, burgers and wings atrong showing on the menu.
The newest Bar Louie, 5300 W. Touhy Ave., which recently opened at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore, stays true to the chain's heritage. Shortly after opening the first location in Chicago's River North neighborhood in 1991, the team behind Bar Louie knew it was on to something. But that's enough history; lets get on to the food.
The old standard of chicken wings are available as an appetizer and can be made buffalo, BBQ, Szechwan or "en fuego." A dozen or so steaming hot, plump wings show up for $8, or can be made boneless for a $1 more. One thing I've liked about Bar Louie's menus is their tendency to go for the strong, and somewhat spicy flavor. It isn't uncommon to see a lot of Mexican or Thai influenced dishes, and that's reflected in appetizers like the Tempura shrimp, with a chili-lime sauce. At $10, that app is pricier than some of the burgers, but well worth it.
The burgers are imaginative. Personally, my favorite is the "Louie." It's a third-pound burger with grilled onion, perfectly melted provolone, and medium jardinière. I also enjoy the Chicago Stockyard, with it's generous helpings peppercorn crust, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan-blue cheese and mushrooms. These burgers are massive enough, but extra patties can be added for just $3 apiece, making for some gargantuan meals.
There are a wide variety of sandwiches, some of them served on flatbreads, and entrees that can tickle anyone's fancy. And whether you're in the mood for Mexican – there are taco plates as well as a chimichurri spiced steak, and a burrito – as well as southern inspired dishes, Mediterranean ones, and Italian offerings. Seeing as how this particular location is in a hotel, the fact there is a full brunch menu for weekends is a definite plus.
Yet, the great thing about Bar Louie is the chain's tendancy to take what's already a beloved and popular food item, and give it a little twist. Sometimes they do that with size, other times they do it with flavors, and occasionally they do it with both. In the case of the mini-Kobe hot dogs, it's definitely the latter. This odd lovechild of sliders and mini-corndogs are served breaded, tempura style, with different sauces, like spicy ketchup or queso.
And for a bar that serves bar food, Louie goes above and beyond the call. Along with the wings, the twists on appetizers and the burgers, there's pizza, hardly unexpected in the modern American upscale bar. Louie, however, takes the pizza to unexpected places, as with their White pizza, a mix of chicken, jardinière, mozzarella and alfredo. For the unabashedly carnivorous, there's the Italian Stallion, with a double helping of both sausage and pepperoni.
As far as hotel bars go, you'd be hard pressed to luck into a better one. My bartender, Paula, was more than professional and friendly. Her open and welcoming attitude made me wish I were a frequent traveler.
Her skilled pour of my beer into my 20 oz. glass ($6) was so frosty I could barely touch it. My dinning companion and I were impressed. We then selected a cocktail off the menu, and she made us a Diva, a healthy mix of pineapple, midori and coconut juice for $9. Once we knew her trade with a bottle, we ended up getting into more of her cocktails, even though there were 30 tempting beers on tap.
At the end, Paula tried to talk us into dessert. She told us the chefs make pudding on site, and are especially good at baking their Carrot Cake Bites. Drizzled with caramel sauce, and only $4, we somehow managed to resist. Instead, we ended up having her mix us another round of drinks.