To start off, anyone who names their restaurant after their dog makes us an instant fan, and Loulou, a brand new French bistro and speakeasy in Chelsea, has done just that, complete with an illustration of the adorable pooch adorning the exterior of the restaurant and menus. The new haunt from owner Mathias Van Leyden, is a welcome addition to an already buzzy neighborhood.
The gorgeous space has floor to ceiling windows that allow for tons of natural light during the day and low lighting for a sexy ambiance in the evenings. Exposed brick and greenery round out the aesthetic upstairs, which can seat 70. Downstairs embraces an eclectic cozy vibe complete with a lit up “easy,” sign and a cheetah with a bellhop hat, accommodating a dance party of 80.
Loulou features a full selection of thoughtfully selected beer, wine, champagne and craft cocktails created by Zane Harris and Arpan Duttaroy. The restaurant also has fresh pressed juices, coffee and tea for brunch. Drinks in this establishment are served in whimsical vessels and pack a punch.
Some of the highlights were the refreshing Mexican Stiletto, served out of a glass bird with Codigo Tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave and Peychaud’s Bitters. The Butterfly Martini was also delish, served in a globe with Empress Gin, sake, creme de peche, water and edible flowers and the Chelsea, an homage to the neighborhood and looking like a cupcake with the raspberry foam on top, incorporating Grey Goose, Massenez Green Apple Liqueur and lemon juice.
In terms of the food, Executive Chef Jarett Brodie has quite the resume. He comes to Loulou with experience at some of the best restaurants in NYC, included Craft under Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges’ Mercer Kitchen, Bouley, Vong under Chef Pierre Schutz, Executive Chef at FR.OG, Executive Chef at Nios at The Muse Hotel, and Sous Chef at Park Hyatt New York. Brodie most recently worked as Chef de Cuisine at The Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square before bringing his extensive expertise to Loulou.
We were treated to some of the restaurant’s top dishes, although we will be back to try everything. Our first course was the Roasted Baby Beets Salad with red sorrel, muscat grapes, and smoked goat cheese. The flavor profile worked perfectly together and the combination of smoky of the cheese and sweet of the grapes combined in perfect harmony.
Next up were the Sea Scallops with uni beurre blanc and caviar… we would’ve bathed in the sauce, it is that good. For the Charred Octopus, the white bean ragu, chorizo, caulilli and purple potato made what is usually a smaller dish feel much more hearty, a welcome change and the vegetables were all super fresh and you could tell.
Typical to French cuisine, the Duck Leg Confit was accompanied by an apple rosemary puree and gala chutney, which made this dish very different with the sweet component and very delicious. The Braised Short Rib was another hearty dish, the meat was super tender and the heirloom carrot and kohlrabi mash both made sense on the plate.
Lastly, we finished with the Cavatelli with wild mushroom ragu, lacinato kale, crispy artichoke and parmesan creme. This is another dish we would’ve licked clean and we suggest keeping the bread around to soak up all the amazing sauces, which the restaurant really excels at.
This spot really has everything you can ask for. Secret speakeasy through a Cocacola vending machine? Check. Adorable anecdote for the restaurant name? Check. Food and cocktails that are equally delicious and instagrammable? Check and check. This restaurant really is perfect for dates, to host family dinners and girls night out. Since Loulou just officially opened, expect reservations to be hard to come by and the space to be packed, but believe us when we say it’s worth the wait.
– Stephanie Carino
176 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Photos courtesy of Victor Hugo and Stephanie Carino