Wal Worth It | Louie Louie, 347 Walworth Road, London
When I typed ‘Louie Louie‘ into Google for a little background info, top of the page was the song of the same name performed by The Kingsman. I had no idea that this 1963 hit’s ambiguous vocals were the subject of a two-year-long FBI investigation – all very interesting but not what I was looking for. OK, back to the Google search. I type in ‘Louie Louie restaurant’ and I get an all you can eat world buffet near Sunderland University – you can just imagine what that’s like. Let’s try again, ‘Louie Louie restaurant London’. Bingo! This time Google finds my intended subject.
Maybe Google wasn’t too far off with its first search. Music seems to be very important to this venue – most evenings there’s live acoustic artists and DJs playing through a bespoke high-end HiFi system (featuring Icon valve amps and vintage speakers.) Even one of the founding partners, Chris Greenwood, is a veteran of the music scene – starting as a New York club DJ in mid 80s.
The other two partners are Jack Wilkinson and Hanne Cole. Jack’s a visual designer who’s worked on numerous projects including TV shows Black Mirror and Peep Show and brands such as Sipsmith Gin, Selfridges and Johnnie Walker. Whilst Hanne has been cooking professionally since 2011 where she set up the kitchen for Power Lunches, a cafe and music venue in East London – so a very creative and talented trio.
Now Walworth Road isn’t really known as a dining destination, unless of course you are a big fan of fried chicken and kebabs. Louie Louie is a very welcome addition to the area, we bet the locals have been praying for a restaurant like this.
Decor is very simple, clinical white walls, grey geometric tiles and pale wooden floors. It made a refreshing change from the industrial look which, in all honesty, is starting to get a touch boring. The vibe is more Scandinavian, cool, clean and calm – or a tad IKEA as Saff suggested.
Apparently it’s split over two floors, we didn’t know this so we didn’t take a look around. But downstairs is an intimate lounge used as a co-working space (with broadband) during weekday office hours and for showcasing live music sets in the evenings. You can even hire the space for private parties, looks like Louie Louie has all those bases covered.
During the day the ground floor is a relaxed cafe serving quality coffee and cakes and ‘goodies’ by Stroma bakes including plenty of gluten-free, dairy free and vegan options (you can’t not have these offerings these days.)
But we were here for the evening menu and specifically the evening menu devised by “Chef In Residence” Oded Oren who takes over the kitchen four nights a week (Wednesday to Saturday). Tel Aviv born Oded has been cooking his modern Mediterranean style in London for six years (with time in Paris and California). And from what we’d seen on Instagram, his innovative veg-based dishes and charcoal grilled meats looked great and were causing a bit of a stir.
As usual we kicked things off with a cocktail each (all £9). We were impressed by their short but really well-considered list, no boring cocktails here. I love it when a restaurant makes an effort when developing its drinks menu, we get excited at the prospect of trying something new and interesting.
I ordered One for Floyd an interesting combo of Saffron Armagnac (well I had to, I was dining with my Saffron) – amer picon (French caramel-flavoured bitters), sparkling wine and an orange twist.
Saff ordered her second choice (the La Tea En Rose wasn’t available) but her Barley Breaking more than made up for it. A delicious mix of Roasted barley, anejo rum, boker’s bitters and a sweet shard of walnut brittle
As we were invited along, the chef decided to treat us to a selection from the ever-changing menu. Please don’t be disappointed if something on the website’s sample menu grabs your attention but isn’t actually being served when you visit. As a prime example, I had my eye on the grilled octopus only to find it had been replaced by hake and seabass kebabs.
But rest assured, everything on the menu will be fresh and expertly prepared. Now this isn’t complicated cooking, no trixy methods and techniques here. In fact a good home cook with a decent kitchen could probably deliver something approaching the quality of the dishes served up at Louie Louie. But that’s what I liked about our meal, nothing fancy, just a fab selection of simple, honest small sharing plates that tasted great. Saff on the other hand wasn’t overly wowed by the offerings.
I won’t go into too much detail on what we actually ate, for reasons explained above, but just in case they do make a reappearance on the menu here’s a rundown of our stand out dishes. You really can’t go wrong with their Stone baked focaccia, tomatoes and smooth, yet earthy, tahini (£5.50.)
I loved the dense texture and bold flavour of the Skewered grilled chicken hearts with pimentos and cumin (£3.50) (although Saff wasn’t too sure). The Burnt beets served with soured cream (£7.50) were light and refreshing and the perfect partner for the decent sized portion of Seared beef carpaccio with fresh (just hot enough) chilli (£9.50.) As for dessert – the Quince crumble (£6),with a dollop of custard and a sprinkling of toasted pistachios was the highlight of the evening.
All in all a tasty, well cooked meal in a part of town that’s looks like its been crying out for an establishment like Louie Louie. We loved its vibe and can easily see it becoming a thriving creative hub, especially during the day. If we’re passing we’d definitely pop in and soak up the atmosphere and with a bit of luck the grilled octopus will be back on the menu.
347 Walworth Road, London SE17 2AL
Nearest station: Elephant and Castle (16 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Louie Louie, this does not affect our review in any way.
We always write with complete honesty.