Every now and then the restaurant menus of this great dining city can blur into an indistinguishable list of trends. So it's a huge treat to eat dinner at French Louie, the new restaurant from the guys behind Buttermilk Channel, who are quietly doing their own weird, lovely thing on Atlantic Avenue.
Sure, there's a plain old roast chicken ($24) served with lentils and greens, but there are plenty of little surprises as well. Like the pile of hot, fried shrimp heads that accompany the cold shrimp cocktail ($12). "You can eat the whole thing," the waiter chimes in, "if you want to."
Or the long, skinny fries ($7), which stand apart with a wise addition of anchovy butter. The wonderfully salty fries come with all three of French Louie's renditions of steak frites (including one made with lamb shoulder instead of beef). There are snails in a bowl of grits ($14) and don't miss the smoked sardines ($9) with a slab of butter and rye bread. This food is fun, without being goofy.
Go for a quick drink and an egg ($5) pickled in the house steak sauce. It has a soft, creamy yolk made exquisite by the addition of grated bottarga, a dab of horseradish cream and chives. Or hey, stay a while, crack open a lobster claw, dip the meat into some warm hollandaise ($17) and order a lovely bottle of Muscadet, like the 2011 Domaine de l'Ecu "granite" ($52).
Just as with his other restaurant, owner Doug Crowell has put together an exciting little wine list you can actually afford. Which means there's really no excuse to skimp on dessert, is there? At the very least, order the pineapple tarte tatin ($10).