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Aug 27, 2014
Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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A predictable new bar draws a tempting young crowd
By Sean Hixson and Julie Lay - Photo by Jonathan Swegle
Posted On: 09/28/2006   


First off, Bar Louie in the Central West End has come a long way from the dingy space that used to contain M.P. O’Reilly’s. It has been sanitized, spruced up and somehow purged of the smell of college-girl throw-up. The newly renovated space flows much better and provides enough light to finally be able to see the person who just bought you that shot of tequila.

The openness of Bar Louie provides a great space for the crowd of mostly 20-somethings to socialize. A large area filled with tables, an enormous bar, a side bar area, a raised section with cozy seating and an outside patio provide multiple options for where to sit and whom to situate yourself next to. All areas tend to be equally bustling, though the raised seating area, graced by a picture of the Rat Pack, doesn’t really seem to live up to its full potential during the week. The cozy section, with its low seating and a bird’s-eye view, seems to be the best place to spot sizzling singles during the weekend, though.

The food and drink selection at Bar Louie is decent. A large menu offers everything from salads and sandwiches to dinner entrées. A friend and I tried the spinach and artichoke dip and buffalo calamari. Both were pretty tasty, but I was remiss in not ordering the bruschetta pomodoro because it was served in a fabulously tacky, gigantic martini glass. And who doesn’t want to eat dinner out of a trough-size martini glass? I mean, really. Real martinis are on special for $5 weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. On Tuesdays after 5 p.m., you can also get a $1 burger with the purchase of any beverage.

The drink menu is large and diverse at Bar Louie. You can swig on anything from one of more than 15 draft beers or choose from a selection of more than 20 wines by the glass or bottle. It also offers a wide array of specialty drinks like The Dalai Louie, a concoction of Ketel One Citroen, Patrón Citrónge, green tea syrup and brewed tea served with a sprig of mint. Iced tea mixed with a lot of booze is always a winner.

Overall, if I weren’t aware that Bar Louie is a chain bar, I would say bravo to the owners for the elegant stylings wrapped up with decent cuisine and nice drink selection. But because I know it is a chain, and that the décor is probably the same in most of its locations, it is harder for me to pony up the praise. In the long run, though, Bar Louie is a nice place to enjoy a few drinks with friends while letting off some workweek steam.

The straight 411 …
Bar Louie is a good place to grab a cocktail after work or work the crowd on the weekend.


After 20 minutes of playing witness to a parade of coeds and Alpha Beta social chairs, I began to wonder if this was what Robert Carradine felt like in the four “Revenge of the Nerds” movies. When Carradine annoyingly yet effectively laughed his way through his portrayal of collegiate meganerd Louis Skolnick, he was years (if not decades) out of college.

I thought that, like Anthony Edwards after playing fellow nerd Gilbert Lowell in the original “Revenge of the Nerds,” I should be on to bigger and better. Not “Top Gun,” but researching Cabernet and dark chocolate in a darker lounge.
But, like Carradine, here I was slumming as I did in college – drinking monster Bud Light drafts, watching tables of girls hammer tequila shots and singing along to the hottest mid-’90s party songs. At Bar Louie on this particular Friday night, I felt just like Carradine shooting those movies – great, just old.

After a much-needed remodel, the Chicago-anchored chain strongly carries on the college bar scene that M.P. O’Reilly’s did for so long in this exact space. It’s been rehabbed like a ranch in Oakville, the walls knocked down between the smaller rooms to open it up. Also like a ranch in Oakville (at least mine) and unlike its predecessor M.P. O’Reilly’s, Bar Louie has no dance floor. Very surprising, considering the aforementioned party music, the music’s excessive volume and the average age of the weekend night clientele.

Where M.P.’s dance floor was, there’s now room for frat guys to group multiple tables into one 20-top. The furniture has been upgraded to dark wood and leather, with some new funky booths that enclose occupants like a carnival ride minus
the spinning.

The thoughtfulness of the intimate raised section’s cushy contemporary couches and chairs is offset with ridiculously uncreative wall photos. Honestly, it doesn’t even look like Bar Louie managed to buy any pictures. These photos look like the generic black-and-white pics that came with the frames. Still, all things considered and with the many flat screens showing sports, the look is much improved since M.P.’s days.
Bar Louie brings a strong yet T.G.I. Friday’s-esque food menu, with a 20-plus selection wine list and a 20-plus selection drink list. I was all set to praise the draft beer selection (15-plus varieties) and temperature (very cold), but, well, Bar Louie plays with your drunk-off-beer mind.

Five years as an undergrad honed my critical thinking skills, Bar Louie. I am wise. “The 20-ounce draft is only $1 more. Sure you don’t want it?” asks every server and bartender, implying it’s an incredible deal. “A dollar more for 20 ounces? Hook it up,” you say without thinking.

Now, do the math. A regular 14-ounce Bud Light draft is $3 – 21.4 cents per ounce. (Yes, that was 14 ounces. While it looks like a 16-ounce pint glass, it’s not.) Kicking it up to 20 ounces makes it $4 – 20 cents per ounce. So, this deal saves you just 28 cents and those extra 4 ounces, without fail, end up warmer than the Gulf of Mexico in August. Thank you, college algebra, and no thank you, Mr. Bartender. I do not want the 20-ouncer.

If you are over 27, steer clear on weekend nights after 10. The music is loud. The crowd is young. Most girls don’t have majors or engagement rings. Most guys don’t have shame or sense. Man, I miss college. Carradine was onto something.

The straight 411 …
For a weekend college fix, loudly soundtracked by “California Love” and “Whoomp! (There It Is),” head to Bar Louie.

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DATE: 06/14/2010 11:31PM    POSTED BY: Stacey
Was having a great time with some friends from my off. 3 out of 4 orders were incorrect. No problem, the 'Manager' who brought the food (Ryan) said that he would make it right. The food he promised to bring out never made it out. After questioning the 'Manager' (Ryan) he became defensive, wouldn't listen and then unable to help. He made a fool of himself, arguing with myself and my friend. After this terrible experience, we won't be going back

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