Dining Reviews

So Long, Louie’s

DiningLouie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour

Lou Caviglia of Seacloud, Clouds Downtown and most recently Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar confirmed last week that he would not be renewing his lease on the 20-year-old downtown watering hole. “The rents here have gotten insane,” Caviglia told me last week. Which means that you’ve had your last tipple at this landmark, which closed Saturday. Lou and his wife Christy Caviglia aren’t sure what happens next. But he/we will keep you posted. It’s the passing of an era in which the bons temps truly rolled. Thanks for the memories!

Japanese Bar Food Pop-Up

Sometimes the old phrase “Back by popular demand!” rings true, as in the case of the hyper-active Back Porch group which brings its palate-tingling Japanese bar food event back to the Midtown Cafe from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, March 6.  If history repeats itself, this pop-up event might just sell out on the early side, so plan to get on over there in a timely fashion. If you’ve ever found yourself salivating over the aromas of sizzling bacon, eggs, and sassy spices wafting through the Saturday West Side Farmers Market, then you know what I’m talking about. Chef Austin Kaye and company know how to turn on-the-spot, from-scratch organic food into al fresco meals to remember. Listen up: On the Back Porch menu for Friday are those savory $5 pancakes with the lilting name of Okonomiyake, involving potato, cabbage, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes, and yes, you can have yours with pork belly for a mere dollar more. And then there will be sweet miso tofu skewers for $5, or ground chicken skewers for $6. I’m intrigued by the mere idea of carrot and pea potato croquettes, and for a meal in a bowl you’ll want to sample the $10 Back Porch version of ramen, loaded with noodles, egg, pork belly and mushrooms. Dessert is sweet ginger custard. Beer and wine will be available to accompany your fresh Japanese specialties. All of this from the folks who reinvented the pulled-pork breakfast taco. Check it out. Midtown Cafe is smack dab in the middle of the block, at 1211 Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz.

Wine of the Week

Bonny Doon Vineyards Albariño 2014 from Kristy Vineyard in Monterey: For roughly $15, this crisp white wine offers thirst-quenching flavor brightness, thanks to its 12 percent alcohol. Randall Grahm’s delightful creation immediately fills the nose with citrus—kumquat zest perhaps?, hazelnut and woodsy center, and a happy, uncomplicated finish of water chestnuts and Meyer lemon tart. A liquid anticipation of spring!

Farm to Table Season

Outstanding in the Field is launching its 2015 tour in a few minutes (on March 20) and the tables will be set this upcoming season in all 50 states. Yes, that is a rather large expansion from the first Santa Cruz-based gleam in owner Jim Denevan’s eye.

Outstanding’s locally stocked atmospheric al fresco tables will be set in California from May 2 through July 6; the Pacific Northwest July 11 through 21; and in the Rockies during early August. Then the adventurous tour continues moving eastward, hitting New England on August 20, winding through choice farms and fields in the east, along the Atlantic, through the South, back up the Midwest and then wrapping up in October in the Southwest and home. Devoted to reconnecting diners with food in the very surroundings where it is grown, this dining tour visits farms—and their farmers—and whips up outdoor meals that reflect region and season. Locally-made wines are chosen to urge all flavors to maximum divinity. Since tickets are not getting any cheaper, this might be the year to take your sweetie to savor something quite memorable. Tickets go on sale March 20, the first day of spring. Visit outstandinginthefield.com for more information.

PHOTO: Christy and Louie Caviglia, the hardworking owners of the now-closed Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar, say they’ll resurface again soon. CHIP SCHEUER

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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