Chow: Louis Basque Corner Restaurant
by Super G
I was super excited, my Guy Ferrari challenge was on after Babes (Heather) made reservations at Louis Basque Corner Restaurant. The restaurant was featured on Dinners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network and got rave reviews. Everything looked very promising the moment we walked through the front door.
The bar was packed, so packed that it was difficult to get into the door at 6:30 p.m. when Babes and I squeezed into the restaurant to find the host for our reservations. Good sign, I winked at my girl. Once we got past the rush however the story changed. The long picnic tables draped with plastic picnic table cloths were all set up, but with no guests enjoying the food as we saw on the show.
We walked down the long rows of empty tables towards the back near the kitchen where two eight person tables filled with mostly seniors sat dinning. However, it was early Babes and I looked at each other reassuringly. Happy hour was still in full swing. The dinner bell hadn’t struck yet.
Our other dinning partners were all happily chatting and eating. One of them, an older gentleman, grabbed my girlfriend’s arm and began chatting her up. We were strangers for only a moment exchanging pleasantries as we were about to embark on a food journey that would last a mere half hour and not because of the company. Turning towards the woman sitting next to me I started asking about the restaurant. She was a regular, like her date across from her, and praised the food and the service.
Yet, something was off and not sitting well with Babes and me, especially as soon as the food arrived. As one of our dinner companions mentioned, there’s a bunch of people at the bar, but no one is eating, except us. Oddly, in spite of being in the empty back of the restaurant the noise level was loud and not from the kitchen.
Louis Basque Corner Restaurant serves up a five course meal family style that starts with clam chowder, salad, beans, mussles, and then moves into the main course. Finally, desert, a choice of cheese and fruit or vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, the server explained to us. The meal is served with the house wine.
Service is fast at the beginning, but it quickly fizzles leaving a table filled with half eaten dirty dishes stacking up and no space for the next course (which our excitement for grew less and less as each course arrived).
Awful, is being nice to describe the food. It was the fastest meal that wasn’t fast food that Babes and I ever ate. My lamb chops were bland and Babe’s salmon was undercooked. We picked at each course and by the end of the meal we were glad we weren’t starving because it was basically unedibile and the wine was hard to swallow. The server offered to reheat the salmon, but we declined. The best parts of the dinner were the salad (and even that was overly doused with dressing) and the ice cream, which came out of a container not homemade in the kitchen.
Suddenly our conversation turned to other restaurants in the area where we had fond memories and where we would eat lunch and dinner the following night. It’s a very rare occasion for us to think about our forthcoming meals during our current one or even soon after we’ve eaten. Clearly we were less than satisfied and quite disappointed by the hype.
The meal wasn’t worth the whopping $64 dollars paid with tip. We couldn’t get out of the restaurant fast enough.
Loui’s Basque Restaurant
301 East 4th Street Reno, NV 89512; 775- 323-7203; Louisbasquecorner.com
AMBIANCE: Party in the front, fizzle in the back.
SERVICE: Romantic beginning, loses wind after the honeymoon.
NOISE LEVEL: Loud, even when empty carrying a conversation was difficult.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup
SIP: Skip the house wine, even though it’s included with the meal. Order from the bar, clearly that is where the average, but good booze is.
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