Louie Louie Bistro & Bar located at the Inn at Penn across from the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania opened a couple of months ago to much fanfare and with good reason. It is a truly stunning restaurant.
The interior was designed by Philadelphia based Rohe Creative who has designed some of Philly’s most beautiful restaurants (Harp & Crown, Double Knot, Bud & Marilyn’s… to name a few.) More restaurants need to hire them because this University City restaurant is a veritable feast for the eyes!
The first thing you encounter when you walk into the 6,000 square foot space is an inviting and stylish u-shaped bar. You’ll feel like you’ve walked right into a Grand Café in Europe! Not that I have been to one, but I felt transported to another place in another era.
To the right of the bar, the restaurant’s lobby lounge in the former lobby of the Inn at Penn is bright and welcoming with plush furnishings, art, and greenery. After we drank in the atmosphere, the hostess showed us to our table smack dab in the middle of the restaurant for the best view in the house and brought us some menus to peruse. The menu was as big as my torso! 😆
Our server Eddie was super friendly and helpful from beginning to end. We had many questions about the menu, which he answered knowledgeably, and made some suggestions all with a smile.
As Fearless Restaurants go, the cocktail menus are always so creative. It was a tough choice, but I chose the Only Prescription is Mule Cowbell ($13). Quite a boozy drink to get started so early in the day, but that’s how I roll. Made with Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, Faber Gin, Bacardi Rum, Hornitos Blanco Tequila, Fruitlab Ginger Liqueur, Ginger Beer, Averna, and Angostura Bitters… it will definitely ring your bell.
Hubby opted for a Watermelon Lemonade “Mocktail” ($5) which he found quite refreshing. Mocktails and/or low-alcohol content “session” cocktails are all the rage these days. I’m seeing them show up on menus more and more. While it was a nice drink, I’ll stick to the boozy ones.
When hubby sees something on the menu with anchovies, he must order it. With that said, we started with the Pan con Tomate with fresh anchovies ($7). Judging by the photo above, it may not look like much. It is a humble Spanish dish that literally means “bread with tomatoes.” But this very simple tapas dish brings bright tomato flavor to the palate. The fresh anchovies add a wonderful saltiness, without too much brininess since they do not come from a can or jar. We both ate one of each and shared the 3rd. F-a-b-u-l-o-u-s start!
I also wanted to try the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare ($17) appetizer because who doesn’t need more tartare in their life? I must say, I was expecting a different presentation and was a tad caught off guard by the cream sauce covering the fish. It’s not that it wasn’t appetizing; it was just unlike other tuna tartare dishes I’ve had in the past and the menu made no mention of it. It was good but did not blow me away. The fish was fresh and the cream sauce was nice and mild. Capers added an aggressive saltiness, though. So it was borderline too salty even for me! I still ate the whole thing. 😉
I had a hard time deciding what I wanted as my main course. Everything sounded great. Eddie suggested I try the Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast ($15), but even after a salty start, I still wanted a savory brunch overall. I zeroed in on the Seafood Benedict ($22) because I’m crazy about Benedicts, and especially lobster and crab! While this was a very tasty dish, I felt like there could have been more seafood on this Seafood Benedict. With the bright orange tarragon cream sauce, it was hard to discern the lobster from the shrimp from the crab. I definitely saw some crab, but I was disappointed and would have preferred more seafood. YMMV. The poached eggs were on point and the home fries were potatoey nuggets of perfect deliciousness so I was not wholly unhappy with this dish!
Hubby took a lunch approach for his main course by choosing a classic French Dip ($21). Tender roasted beef served on a crusty demi baguette with creamy gruyere, Earthy black truffle mayo, ultra-comforting shallot broth, and truffle pomme frites on the side (not pictured). Forget the Philly cheesesteak, this is the beef sandwich you should be eating. Louie Louie nailed it. Highly recommend trying this if you go. In fact, I insist you try it!
Last, but not least, I couldn’t resist having some brunch dessert. Yes, brunch dessert is a thing in my world. In this case, it was the Warm Monkey Bread ($9) that is offered on the appetizer menu. There’s nothing more comforting than soft, sweet, ooey-gooey pull-apart pastry topped with a warm caramel and cinnamon sauce and powdered sugar. It was a perfect sweet ending to a very savory meal.
Check out Louie Louie for the sophisticated decor, fancy cocktails, and definitely for that monkey bread which is very, very popular. To the point that is it the #1 takeout item! Seriously, go try that and the French Dip. We can’t wait to go back for dinner sometime!
Louie Louie is a French-inspired American bistro located in the heart of University City at 3611 Walnut Street. Tell them Philly Grub sent ya!
Thank you to Jaimi Blackburg and Fearless Restaurants for the hospitality. As always, opinions are our own.