Lou’s Restaurant, next to the Riviera Theatre, is set up exactly like many other restaurants in buildings of that era, so that you will feel comfortable there even if it’s your first time inside.
You enter what was once a long, narrow storefront and find a few tables clustered around front window, a row of comfortable booths along the side and a counter across the room. A door near the back opens into the second dining room, but we chose a booth at the back of the first room that gave us a prime view of the grill.
Because John, Pat, John and I visited Lou’s on a weekend day during the period between late breakfast and early lunch, we enjoyed watching the preparation of many kinds of breakfast items, from eggs with bright yellow yolks to pancake batter from a pitcher, as well as sandwiches and sides. There are dinners on the menu, too, with plenty of selections of fish served on Friday nights, very few costing more than $10.
We were in the breakfast mode, although the sandwiches, hoagies, burgers and salads all looked good. We perused the specialty sandwiches – barbecued pork, tuna or patty melt, Reuben or fried fish sandwich, none more than $7, served with a side of salad, soup or potato.
The breakfast selections feature the usuals and beyond, including biscuits and gravy, a Southern dish that is becoming more popular here. The soup of the day ($2.59 for a cup, $2.99 a bowl), ham and cabbage, looked good, but didn’t quite go with our preferences for eggs and etc.
When we ordered the homemade hash ($5.49 with two eggs and toast), our quick-moving server paused to warn us. “It’s homemade,” she said. “It’s not the kind that’s out of a can. People either love it or they don’t like it at all.”
We thanked her for the warning, but after sampling Lou’s hash, we placed our vote in the “love it” category. It’s different, yes, but different good. It starts with mashed potatoes, rather than tiny diced bits. Actual corned beef briskets are cooked, then shredded and mixed with the spuds. The mixture is then cooked to crusty perfection. It was brown, unlike the red people might expect, and delicious. The two eggs served with the hash were over medium, just as ordered.
The short stack of buttermilk pancakes ($3.89) contained two fluffy, good-sized cakes, soft and sweet, nicely browned. An order of home fries on the side ($1.99) was a ridiculous amount of potatoes, all cooked until soft and some made extra crusty from their time in the corner of the grill, then mixed in for maximum flavor.
The croissant sandwich, filled with scrambled eggs, melted cheese and bacon, ham or sausage ($6.39) was too full to pick up, but yielded to the fork. The diced ham in the sandwich was flavorful and the croissant was fresh, flaky and warm from the grill.
The stuffed French toast ($4.49) was made of two slices of bread dipped in egg enclosing a filling of ham and melted cheese. The menu said the bread was spiced with cinnamon, but this was extremely subtle, so the sandwich mostly reminded us of Monte Cristo made with American cheese. It was served piping hot, and delivered plenty of flavor, but looked a bit lonely on the plate.
The dish holding the ridiculous amount of home fries was slid to the center of the table and everyone was happy, which we would guess is a common situation at Lou’s.