What’s happening at Overton Square is a great thing to watch. In addition to the recent restaurant additions, there are several more in the works, and the new parking lot makes it much easier to enjoy them all.
One of the newer ones is Bar Louie. On the corner of Madison and Cooper, it occupies what might be the best location of all. The large patio right on the corner is a great place to sit and have an afternoon (or anytime) beverage. There’s enough foot traffic to make for interesting people-watching.
Add that to the fact that there is a happy hour Monday through Friday, with reduced drink prices and half-priced small plates. A couple of glasses of wine and a plate of chicken nachos — piled high with grilled chicken, cheese sauce, black beans, guacamole and more, plenty big enough to share — makes for a very happy hour indeed.
For those wanting a more substantial meal, there are plenty of options. There are six salads on the menu, and if all are as good as the two we had, you won’t go wrong. My pear and blue cheese salad had thinly sliced fresh pears, chunks of a good blue cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and a balsamic drizzle. But my husband’s blackberry, orange and Brie salad was even better. Plenty of big ripe blackberries, chunks of Brie, pecans, bacon and a bacon vinaigrette topped a bed of mixed greens.
We were less impressed with the two main courses we chose. My husband got the Voodoo Chicken. When a dish contains blackened chicken, andouille sausage and “voodoo sauce,” you expect a little heat. Although the sauce had a little bit of spice, there wasn’t nearly the full flavor that the listed ingredients would lead you to assume.
We had better luck on a lunch visit. Monday through Friday at lunch there’s a long list of specials available for $8, including a chicken quesadilla, several salads, an Italian-style hoagie and more.
My companion ordered the bacon cheeseburger sliders. Three of these came with apple wood smoked bacon, pickles and thin-cut fried onions. I had the crispy chicken melt. It was a big piece of chicken, breaded and deep-fried. It was way too big to eat as a sandwich, but I was perfectly happy to take a knife and fork to it so I could dip it in the sweet chili aioli that came with it. Both of our lunch specials came with more fries than we could eat.
There are other options on the menu. Burgers range from plain to the Louie, topped with grilled onion, provolone cheese and spicy giardiniera (pickled mixed vegetables); to the Chicago Stockyard, with peppercorns, Parmesan-blue cheese, mushrooms, onion, lettuce, tomato and Worcestershire sauce.
The dozen sandwiches on the menu include a meatball hoagie, barbecue pulled pork, and sesame tuna (with a grilled ahi tuna steak). All sandwiches and burgers come with fries or tots, but you can substitute a salad or another side for $1 more.
Large plates live up to their name: big servings are the norm here. Steaks, chicken, pasta, tacos and burritos are all represented.
For those who choose not to eat meat, there are plenty of options. In addition to the salads, there’s a portobello burger with roasted red pepper and pesto mayonnaise, a grilled veggie wrap with roasted carrots, zucchini, fresh spinach, avocado, hummus and pesto; and a cheese quesadilla with black beans, salsa verde and a fried egg.
There are only two desserts. One is a huge slice of chocolate cake. The other, Tennessee whiskey cake, is served only to those over 21. It’s an apple-caramel cake, soaked with a Jack Daniel’s whiskey glaze, and with whipped cream and strawberry garnish; it’s plenty for two.
The big bar is the centerpiece of the dining room. With lots of seats, each commanding a view of at least two televisions tuned to various sporting events, it is always well populated. The fact that the beverage lists take up the first three pages of the menu should give you a clue — and that doesn’t include the long list of beers on tap or in bottles.
Specialty martini drinkers won’t be disappointed by the selection available, and then there are margaritas, mojitos and other cocktails, including nonalcoholic options.
The wine list includes a selection of moderately priced reds and whites, mostly from lesser-known vintners. There’s one bubbly (a Prosecco), and one sake.
On our previous visits for a cocktail on the patio and for lunch, we received excellent service. I can’t say as much for the evening we had dinner. We had to wait a few minutes for our table, so we got a drink at the bar. The hostess gave us menus and then it was a good while before we saw our waiter.
When the waiter came, we ordered a salad each, and a main course each. He asked if we wanted them together. No, we said, we’ll finish the salads first. A runner brought the salads. We had to ask her for flatware and napkins. Within a couple of minutes the waiter came with our main courses. Am I too early? Yes. He stood there with the plates until we moved salads around to make room. We didn’t see him again until he brought the check.
Address: 2125 Madison (at Cooper)
Hours: 11 a.m.–2 a.m., seven days a week
Reviewer’s choice: Blackberry orange Brie salad ($8), pear and blue cheese salad ($9.50), crispy chicken melt ($8 on lunch special, regularly $11), chicken nachos ($11), Tennessee whiskey cake ($8)
Alcohol: Full bar