Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Louie's Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar


Happy Hour: Tuesday – Friday 4:00 -6:30
 $3 Fried Okra, Fried Grits, Hushpuppies, Red Beans and Rice and Garlic Fries
 5$ Boudin Meatballs, Bib Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Wings, Nachos, Andouille Sausage

 $3.50 well drinks, beer, house wine
$5: Cosmo, Lemon Drop, Mojito, Margarita, Whiskey Sour, Up Martini

Louie's Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar Website
Julie's Review

I like the ambience of Louie’s Cajun Kitchen on Church Street.  The restaurant formerly known as Clouds has transformed into a New Orleans hot spot.  The walls are covered with colorful murals depicting jazz musicians and mardi gras d├ęcor.  The owner, bartenders and waitresses wear Mardi Gras beads.  It’s a lively engaging atmosphere with a full bar.

Josephine was already there when I arrived.  I was really glad that the happy hour lasted until 6:30.  It can be really difficult to get to a place before 6:00 when you are coming from over the hill.  That extra half an hour can really make a difference. 
Louie’s offers some reasonable prices and interesting dishes.    The well drinks, beer and wine are only $3.50.  I asked the owner who was taking our drink order if I could get a well bloody mary at the happy hour price and he said sure.  Now, I love a place you can get a bloody mary for $3.50 – that’s cheaper than the Crow’s Nest! 


When Josh, our bartender, brought over a nice tall spicy bloody mary, I knew I was going to like this place.  

Josephine had been before and had some food recommendations – I got the bowl of red beans and rice and BBQ shrimp over smoked gouda grits; Josephine ordered the fried okra and chicken wings.  I loved the varied menu and definitely will come back to try their hushpuppies, Andouille sausage and fried grits.

When the food arrived we were not disappointed!  Jo knew the BBQ shrimp over gouda grits was too sweet for her taste, but I loved them.  The red beans and rice were a little bland for me, but luckily they have a wonderful selection of hot sauces – all my favorites. 

 I loved the fried okra – I would definitely get that again, though I wasn’t as impressed with Jo’s chicken wings, though she liked them and she is picky about her wings.  We dug in and completely enjoyed the food.

Next I decided to try one of their specialty drinks so I had a Lemon Drop, rimmed with sugar and a nice twist of lime.  Delicious.  Josephine was enjoying her wine.  We talked and laughed and got that nice happy hour buzz.
The service was not very attentive.  It was steady, but not that busy at the bar. I was disappointed that we weren’t offered Mardi Gras necklaces.  Really?  The J & J don’t get necklaces for the blog?  Since our motto is "show us what you got, we’ll give you a shot” I usually expect superior service.  I liked everything else about Louie’s however.

They give you that extra half hour until 6:30, (though I am always in favor of one weekend day, say Sunday).  The prices were great; just what you want for happy hour and the food was interesting and delicious.  Love the ambience of the place and the drinks were great.   Give me a necklace and I will be back for more!

Julie’s rating: 4 shots!

Jo’s review

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen and Bourbon Bar, located in downtown Santa Cruz, is the place to be if you’re looking for a taste of New Orleans. It has all the qualities of a fun New Orleans restaurant. This place use to be Clouds restaurant, known for their specialty Martini’s, but the owner wanted to change it up a bit and it seems to be working for him. 

As soon as you walk in the place is full of color and flair. Beautiful and colorful designs of masks, singers and musicians cover the walls and the piano at the front is ready for action.  The lively jazz playing in the background gets you set in the mood to party, and at any given time you’ll see someone at the piano playing away. 

They have a good size bar and tables in front and around the bar for light dining, an elevated dining area, and more tables in the back. Everyone seems very friendly and happy.

I arrive before Julie so I start clicking away on my phone.  It is the first time I’m using my phone for the picture taking, I usually have my camera so I apologize for the quality right off the bat. Though the place screams have a Hurricane or choose something from the 50 different bourbons they have I go for wine. The happy hour deal which is Tues. – Friday 4-6:30 offers well drinks, beer, and house wines for $3.50, $5.00  Cosmo, Lemon Drop, Mojito, Margarita, Whiskey Sour, Up Martini and appetizers for $3.00 and $5.00.

My usual bartender is not working today which is a real dis-appointment, I always like visiting with Jeff, but the other bartender Josh is very friendly and willing to have his picture taken.

Julie arrives and we quickly start looking over the appetizer menu and Julie starts off with a well bloody mary. I was surprised to see it arrive in a full pint size glass, nice. Julie asked for water as she always does but I did not have to ask for mine, it came at the same time the wine came, a plus. For food we decide on fried Okra, chicken wings of course and I opt for fried instead of buffalo style (gotta go with the theme), shrimp & creamy smoked Gouda grits, and red beans and rice with Andouille sausage.

As we are catching up on each other’s lives the food starts to arrive. The fried okra is a generous portion, bite size pieces with a very tasty spicy light breading and a spicy Cajun aioli sauce. All of the portions are pretty generous for appetizers, the shrimp and grits look great, could use a few more shrimp but it has a tangy bbq sauce on it and yummy grits. The wings are good, very moist light and airy with a light breading on them. The red beans and rice are good, the beans are a little mushy, I would of liked them to of held up better but good flavor and a good amount of sausage. 

We were munching away and working on our second drink by now, Julie switching to a vodka sour. Enjoying ourselves very much.
So all in all it was a great happy hour, the food was good, and drinks were good and the folks working very friendly. Louie’s is a great place to hang out and have fun at.

Jo’s rating: 4 shots

Friday, January 17, 2014

Miramar Fish Grotto


Hours:  Mon – Sun = 7 days a week!  2:30 – 6:00 p.m.
$3.95 Well drinks, house Rita’s, domestic bottles, Dos Equis draft, Meridian Merlot, Stone Cellar Chardonnay.   $4.95 Gold Ritas.  $12.95 Rita pitchers

$2.95 Chips and Salsa, Spicy Fries   $ 4.95 Fried Calamari, Shrimp Cocktail, Fried Clam Strips, Nachos, Tempura Veggies, Cheese Fries.


Julie’s Review

Our old Science Library gang has had our annual Christmas gathering at the Miramar for over 20 years.  This year Christmas came too fast, so we decided to have a New Year’s Happy Hour at our old watering hole.  It looked much the same, but was missing the Christmas decorations.

The Miramar is located on the Santa Cruz Wharf.  It has a large seating area for the restaurant and separate bar area.  One side of the bar is all windows with a beautiful ocean view of the lighthouse.  Steve and I arrived at the same time and entered the bar, just in time to catch a beautiful sunset.  The bar had only one other patron.

The square bar is located in the middle of the room with seating all around.  There are about eight additional tables, but the tables in the middle didn’t have chairs which was odd.  They were probably taken into the restaurant, which was having a special event that night.

Since we were expecting six or seven of us, we moved tables and chairs together to make room.  I introduced myself to Kamau, and explained about the Buzz.  He has worked at the Miramar for a long time and may have even been our bartender at past Christmas events.  He quickly brought us silverware, waters and menus. 

Kamau was very attentive (since we were the only people in the bar, this is a good thing).   He explained all the happy hour specials.  They have margaritas, well drinks, beer and wine and a variety of appetizers on the menu. Steve and I decided to split a pitcher of margaritas for $12.95.  Josephine arrived and ordered a beer.  When Teresa got there she ordered wine and Kamau was willing to give her a Stone Cellar Chardonnay as the wine choice.

Our drinks arrived quickly.  The margarita really hit the spot, especially since I am not drinking in January, other than for the Santa Cruz Buzz (one must make their sacrifices).  We caught up on the news and discussed the high point of the past year for all of us.

It became clear that the other members of our group weren’t going to make it so we ordered our food. I liked the fact they had shrimp cocktail (a healthy choice) on the happy hour menu, but since Teresa and Steve had ordered the shrimp, I decided to try the calamari and Jo ordered the spicy fries. 

There wasn’t music playing, but they do have a juke box.  

Kamau explained how to work it.  There are songs on the box for 50 cents per song or a larger internet selection that you can play for $1.00.  Teresa chose some songs, then later I picked a few and Kamau put in his own money to play some songs.

Kamau brought out the food.  The portions were quite generous.  The shrimp cocktail was loaded with small bay shrimp.  I tried a bite and it was quite tasty.   My calamari had nice big strips, but also included pieces with tentacles.  Fried to a nice golden brown, it was delicious.  Kamau was quick to bring me the extra tartar sauce I always request.  Josephine had a big plate of spicy fries.

We laughed and talked and lost track of the time.  Steve and I were happily working on our pitcher, when Josephine looked at her watch and realized it was 6:15 and she hadn’t ordered her second beer.  Kamau had gone into the restaurant, but when he came back, when I told him we missed the chance to get the order in, he very accommodatingly agreed to extend happy hour for Josephine.  That’s what I call service!

It was a really great way to end the first week back at work with longtime friends and good memories.  We toasted those no longer with us.  When the bill came I was pleasantly surprised.  I got out the door for $15 not bad for half a pitcher and a nice big plate of calamari!

The Miramar holds a special place in my heart.  I love the view, the memories it invokes for me.  Kamau gave 5 shot service.  I really enjoyed his company and he was all you can ask in a bartender.  The food was good and reasonably priced.  With happy hours Monday through Sunday, there is really no excuse not to take advantage of this fine restaurant!

Julie’s rating:  4 shots

Jo’s review

Miramar is a quaint little restaurant located on the Santa Cruz Wharf. The wharf, built in 1914 is one of the few wharfs that you can actually drive on.  There are many restaurants and stores up and down the wharf and the Miramar is located just before the bend in the wharf.  The bend was made to accommodate larger ships.

It’s a New Year and with that comes with resolutions and fresh ideas for starting the New Year. Julie has decided to give up the booze for a month besides our happy hours so of course her response is “let’s do 2 this month”. I probably would have made the same statement had I given up the booze for a month which is why I didn’t. I have decided to try a different route and I’m keeping it to myself. ;-) We are meeting up with the old sci lib (Science Library) gang, something we usually do at Christmas but decided to meet for the New Year instead. It was tough trying to get everyone rounded up so it ended up with just Teresa and Steve joining us, the usual gang.

It’s a beautiful evening with a wonderful sunset which we missed most of and the wharf is a great place to watch the sun set. This is a big bonus for Miramar, with its huge picture window in the bar area overlooking the bay and lighthouse near the famous surfing area steamer lane. In the bar area the bar is almost a full circle in the room with one of those fancy juke boxes, some tables by the picture window and other high tables scattered around the room.  The dining area is off to the left as you enter the bar and a nice patio area located on the wharf walkway makes for some nice dining and people watching. They also have bands playing on the patio at times in the summer months.

Happy hour is listed on the menu as Monday – Sunday, or as I like to refer to it as every day. We all got a chuckle out of that because I had to think about it when I read the menu. 2:30 to 6pm with $2.95 and $4.95 appetizers, $3.95 Ritas, Dos Equis drafts, domestic beers and house wines. For groups you can get a $12.95 pitcher of Ritas so of course we got a pitcher, but I ended up having beer and Teresa went with wine so Julie and Steve were just grinning ear to ear, “oh we were planning on sharing with you but you guys decided on something else”.

For appetizers I went with the spicy fries, Teresa and Steve chose shrimp cocktails, and Julie went for the fried calamari. Our bartender/waiter Kamau was very helpful, informative and let’s face it not bad eye candy!!!

So were downing the drinks, talking it up and the food arrives. The fries are dusted with a nice spice that is too hot and still allows the potato to come through in the end.   

The shrimp cocktails are piled high with bay shrimp and the calamari has nice strips with a few tentacles added in for good measure.  2 dipping sauces come with the calamari, tartar sauce and cocktail which I prefer. I have to say that as far as the food goes it was good, not great but good. 

My fries were a little cold. Teresa and Steve enjoyed their shrimp cocktails and the calamari was fairly tender. Can’t go wrong with the drinks though and the price was right. The best part about Miramar was being with my friends, we have been meeting here for 20 years now and it's always amazing. 

So all in all Miramar was a nice place to go for happy hour.  The food was fine, the drinks were good and the price was right.  The fact that they have happy hour on the weekends is a big plus for them. A fine place to go on a late afternoon to check out the view and have a few.

Jo’s rating: 3.5