With a special Beer Brunch series that launched over the weekend, Lou's Food Bar offers a three-course tasting menu paired with brews from a different local brewery each month for $30. The series kicked off with porters and Kölsch from Elevation Beer Co. in Poncha Springs, goat cheese and green chile crepes — and beer floats. Upcoming Beer Brunch weekends include a visit from Vindication Brewing Co. on April 18 and 19 and a range of suds from Great Divide Brewing Co. on May 16 and 17 (with menus to be released soon on Lou's website). Based on the fun pairings of the first brunch, it's hard to see why the next two wouldn't be a huge success too — and since the restaurant isn't taking reservations for the Beer Brunches, showing up early would be a wise choice. But whether you go for the Beer Brunch or the standard weekend offerings, Lou's has plenty to attract weekend crowds from Sunnyside and beyond.
Brunch at Lou’s — minus the beer pairings — is served every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and what you can expect is a killer side patio perfect for spring weather, albeit the slotted tables and wobbly patio chairs may be your morning test of sobriety. We managed with minor spillage, enjoying the downhome tunes and strings of lights to set the mood. With ample parking and surprisingly quick seating times — given the typical demand for tables at Frank Bonanno joints — it was a rather relaxing start to the day. Like the Beer Brunch, Lou's doesn't take reservations for standard brunch either.
The interior is sparse and dimly lit, but floor-to-ceiling wine racks and spotlighted pictures set the mood for a causal affair that’s flanked by shuffleboard, bubble hockey and Foosball, making it a great date spot for drinks and games (unless you’re across the table from me, because “lose” is not a word in my vocabulary).
If you’re not participating in the beer pairings, head for the Bloody Mary bar where Lou's signature fried bird — actually amped-up Nashville hot chicken — is part of the deal. I repeat: fried chicken is available as a drink garnish. After your server or bartender delivers your choice of regular, pepper-dill or jalapeno-citrus vodka, three stations are setup for spice-rich and complex homemade mild, spicy and medium tomato bases that make standard mixes pale in comparison while still managing remain neutral enough to accept your customizations. I gussied mine up with Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, horseradish, pickled cauliflower, greasy bacon, cheese cubes, and some gherkins, being sure to leave room for multiple pieces of crispy, boneless breast, which could be more than a full meal for six bucks, if you can handle the heat. Of course, the bar also mixes other standard brunch cocktails like bottomless mimosas and manmosas, but they don’t come with a side of cluck so I was much less interested.
The stuffed beignet starter comes with a cheesy surprise: While it looks like the mini fried rounds are oozing with fruit filling, that's just the topping. The centers are stuffed with gooey, stringy cheese like a sugar-coated mozzarella stick. Available in chocolate (the real cacao kind), espresso caramel, or berry jam, the beignets can also be ordered in pairs so that you can try a bite of each and mix and match the varying degrees of sweetness. The word of the day: bein-YAY.
The duck confit Benedict comes set on a buttery biscuit just like your rotund aunt down South would have force-fed you, over false resistance or diet claims. At least the kitchen balances things out with the health benefits of kale as a topping (or so you can convince yourself). Rich strands of duck were doused in a light citrus Hollandaise with poached eggs so delicate it's hard to imagine how they were plated without breaking.
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Another menu standout was the Sunnyside Hash drizzled in bourbon gastrique, served with equally shreddy pulled pork, kale, and caramelized onions over country potatoes and a pair of poached eggs. The flavors were similar to the Benny, only with a heavier protein. Somewhere between fine dining and country goodness, Lou's makes sure the meats are the star attraction — but the drinks aren’t far behind.