Lunch with Louie at Louie’s (at the Upham)
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
May 12, 8:42 AM (PT)
Louie’s California Bistro is located at 1404 De La Vina. It is attached to the Upham Hotel and is as charming and pretty as the Hotel itself. The indoor section and the veranda style patio are equally attractive and beautiful.
It was again a glorious day, so we chose to sit outdoors by a very lovely tree with burgundy leaves. We could see the intensely blue sky filtering through its branches and wondered - what kind of tree is this anyway? Ed maintained it was a plum tree but there were no plums anywhere, and as I recalled, the plum tree I had in my backyard had had green leaves for its entire 8 years of life before we mercifully put it to sleep. But Ed kept insisting that a plum tree it was, so we asked our waitress, who had been there quite a while, and her final verdict was no plum tree - just a burgundy tree. I once owned a Pontiac Tempest that was burgundy. Somehow the paint peeled off. I hope that doesn’t happen to this tree.
We ordered the meat loaf with mashed potatoes and veggies and the penne with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach and feta. They both came with a small salad, tossed with a very tasty dressing; it was a little soggy and some of the lettuce had already begun its final transition as it was beginning to turn brown. Too bad. Actually, as I recall, my Pontiac adopted that color after it started losing its original paint. The meat loaf was actually delicious and the cabernet reduction was done perfectly - it was the perfect accompaniment to the old-fashioned meat dish. The ridged julienne of vegetables was a little tasteless and the ridges made them look a bit infantile. The mashed potatoes were tasty but cold.
As for the penne dish, it had very little penne and very little spinach, but the olives, feta and tomatoes were plentiful - especially the tomatoes, which by sheer abundance, took over the entire plate. But if you looked hard enough, you could actually rescue some of the pasta from the tomato flooding and those you found were tasty and al dente. Mixed signals here, the salmon my neighbor was having looked and smelled extraordinary, so maybe next time I will choose more wisely.
Both the hostess and our waitress were impeccable in their service and attention to our requests and wishes. Maybe another visit in search of redemption is in order; after all, this place is named Louie and everybody knows I deserve another chance.
For the first time in my life I went to a Mother’s Day Brunch this past Sunday. I am not much in favor of these organized food orgies with motherly love as a pretext. And, a digestive orgy it was. I have never seen such desperation for reaching the food stations time after time after time after time. People with mothers were thanking them for being alive and thereby giving themselves the opportunity to eat 35 shrimps in one afternoon. Those without mothers, like me, were in a way envious of those who had one. I don’t know the exact reason for this envy, but it lies somewhere between the shrimp and memories of times gone by for good. We went to Fess Parker’s Doubletree on Santa Barbara’s waterfront.
Actually, considering the amount of food being served and the number of people involved in the entire operation, both customers and help, it was pretty good. Of particular interest to me were a halibut in a delicate saffron sauce, and a breast of chicken stuffed with spinach and pine nuts, poached and then cut on a diagonal - very pretty and very good. The dessert station was also impressive, and by the oohs and ahs all around me, the desserts must have also been pretty good. Of course, humans in an eating frenzy are not the most reliable critics of gastronomic matters.
I am not going to review the entire Mother’s Day Brunch at Fess Parker, but I must say that for 40 dollars it was quite a spread. Also, considering that there was no charge for the entertainment, that being the diners, it was quite a bargain. If you go to Cirque de Soleil, it will cost you more and you will laugh less. Plus, you get niente for food. Hey, you guys sitting at home overwhelmed with indigestion, guilt and abdominal pain - if you think you’re feeling bad, just ask your mom about the pain she went through giving birth to you, and about the even more profound pain of seeing you using your mama as an excuse for eating 35 shrimps!
Anyway, for those taking psychology, celebrating Mother’s Day and pigging out at the same time, it was a good lesson in human behavior.
By the way, we had first called the Biltmore for information and pricing in regard to their Mother’s Day Brunch. It was 80 bucks per person, and reservations were limited. I asked if for 80 dollars they would let me perform my magic trick where I pull the tablecloth with all the food on top of it and yell, “You watch - all the food stays on the table and I get to take the tablecloth home!” No sense of humor. He hung up on me.
Happy Mother’s Day!
None at this time
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