First Look: Brooklyn's French Louie

By Dan Entin  |  February 26, 2014
Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

Named after a turn-of-the-century French-Canadian trapper and folk-hero, French Louie is the latest Brooklyn restaurant from restaurateur Doug Crowell and chef Ryan Angulo (above, from left) - the team that turned Buttermilk Channel into a brownstone Brooklyn standby (And a favorite of Jay-Z and Beyonce). Unlike their first restaurant - which is in remote BQE-adjacent part of Carroll Gardens - French Louie (which opens tonight) has a prime location on Atlantic Avenue, just one block off Smith Street.

Also new: The style of food.  Where Buttermilk Channel serves "American food with French influences," notes Crowell, "This is the opposite, it's French bistro food with some slight American influences." So, the menu includes foie gras terrine and a very reasonable $20 bavette steak frites, but also French-Louisiana dishes like a pan-fried skate with dirty rice and crab bisque, and the escargot "marchand de vin," which pairs an extremely French protein (snails) with two distinctly American ones - grits and bacon. (One big similarity to Buttermilk Channel: No reservations for small parties, so be prepared to wait.)

Most nights at Buttermilk Channel, it seems like most of the diners are eating either the fried chicken and cheddar waffles or the duck meatloaf. Angulo isn't ready to guess what will become French Louie's signature dish, but he's hoping it'll an unusual one: the smoked sardines with dulse seaweed butter and rye toasts. "It sounds like an odd combination," he says. "but it is just scary good." Read on to learn more about French Louie.

  • Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

    With leather banquettes, marble-topped tables and black bistro chairs, French Louie definitely has a bistro feel - but not in a faux-vintage Keith McNally way. The restaurant seats around 50 and an outdoor patio will seat another 30-or-so more. For now, it's just serving dinner, but Crowell promises breakfast and lunch service soon.

  • Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

    The "Frenchie" salad is a prime example of chef Angulo's playful attitude. It's a take on a wedge salad, featuring lightly grilled heads of little gem lettuce stuffed with blue cheese and bacon. Why is it called "Frenchie" then? "Because I serve it with French dressing," he says. "But instead of using Wishbone, I made my own."

  • Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

    The soup "En Croute," a hearty lentil and root vegetable salad topped with a gruyere crust.

  • Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

    Flounder with a blood orange grenobloise (a sauce featuring browned butter and capers), brioche croutons and roasted cauliflower

  • Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

    While Buttermilk Channel is known for its all-American wine list, French Louie will mix up bottles from France and the U.S. The cocktail menu, designed by Tim Miner (The JakeWalk), has a strong Francophile bent - the Old Fashioned is made with Calvados and the French 75 with Cognac.