Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

THING 25: Whatever Lou Tells You to Drink

Thing 25 was a fairly non-specific directive and I interpreted it rather loosely. "Lou" is Lou Amdur, the owner of restaurant/wine bar Lou, a wine connoisseur and repository of knowledge, and husband of New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis.

At any given time you go to Lou, a number of people in there will be people who know he and his wife. I don't know them, so I haven't had the pleasure of a personal wine recommendation, but I figure that everything on the menu is included in things that Lou would tell you to drink, and our waitress also clued us in to a secret wine not on the menu. But I am not going to describe the food and drink in particulars, especially since I'll admit I made a few trips to Lou, because it's kind of addictive. The best way to describe a visit to Lou is to describe in general, since both the wines and food are variable and change often.

First of all, Lou is extremely unobtrusive. Tucked into the corner spot of a mini-mall, scrunched between pollo places and laundromats, from the outside you cannot tell what it is. The large storefront window is draped in curtains from ceiling to floor. You have to boldly make the choice to find your way through them before you can see what this "Lou" place is. Inside the restaurant dark and warm, decorated in rich reds with black and white. The menu is written on a chalkboard and reflects seasonal and farmed ingredients, mostly from the Santa Monica farmer's market. On Mondays they offer a set menu concocted by chef DJ Olson.

The wine list also changes every three to four weeks. The wine list is sort of an avant-garde exercise with the wines categorized into different categories to help you decide what will go well with what you eat, and then each given a succinct description from the mind of Lou that may or may not be helpful. (Descriptions range from the very descriptive (fresh, zingy, tart) to the difficult-to-interpret (slutty? Not Funyons?). If you are lucky you will get a helpful server who can guide you through your choice, or you can read over the descriptions and categories and go with your gut, you probably won't be wrong. For one of my choices, it had been warm weather so I chose one described as apples and hayrides and it did indeed taste like summer in a glass. Success!

The food is always seasonal and fresh and everything I have tried here has been delicious. They have some interesting farmed meats, not just the usual chicken, lamb, and beef but also things like bison and antelope. I tried the antelope, and was relieved to find it was perfectly cooked, as I've never tried it before. It was like eating a nice venison. You can tell that care is taken to find the best ingredients and you can tell when there is something they are quite enthusiastic about. When we were last there, you had several opportunities to eat Tony Hook's 10-year cheddar cheese and I took more than one because it's my favorite cheese.

I highly recommend that everyone seek out Lou at least one time. It's really a hidden treasure (although they have no problem filling the seats) and it feels very much like a getaway in the middle of Hollywood. The variable menu means you will probably want to come back just to see what your choices will be next time.

724 Vine Street
323 962-6369
Monday – Saturday 6 PM – 12 AM


Was the venison as "gamey" as you expected it to be?

Which Travel Channel host ALWAYS says that?

Answer: Andrew Zimmer of Bizarre Foods.

said by dhp at 5:52 AM Delete

He hee! It actually was not too gamey. It was very nice. :)

said by KT at 5:25 PM Delete

If I had the monetary backing, and the will, and the time, and the spare kidney, and a house close by, I'd be here twice a week. Alas, none of the above is true.

said by SinoSoul at 10:20 AM Delete

Creative Commons license The content on Gastronomy 101 may be reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.