234 Clyde Road
In her opinion:
I had heard about this place in passing...it's name being associated with Lily Ruth and thinking, really?!? But like many things, it got put into the back of my mind. Then while going over urbanspoon's list of restaurants in Cambridge. There it was on the top with a 94% approval rating. It's located in the old Henning's place, an institution in Cambridge in the 1970s. I never ate at Henning's but I did at a couple of the other spots that opened there in that location over the years. Little Louie's is owned by Steven Allen and his partner, Rachelle Matlow of Lily Ruth fame (one of our favourite Cambridge restaurants - now closed). They still continue to operate Lily Ruth Catering out of this location.
Knowing how I felt about Lily Ruth's food, I had to try their new venture...the only problem was that they are opened only for lunch Monday to Friday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Thanks to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board's "PD" day and a couple of leftover holidays from last year...we decided to take the day off with the intentions of sleeping in (not likely with our 6 year old) and trying Little Louie's!
Little Louie's is on Clyde Road in a residential area between Franklin Boulevard and Elgin Street...if you blink...you might miss it...so don't blink!
We got there at around 1:00 pm, just missing the lunch crowd according to the staff. The staff is fantastic! Both Rachelle and Steve were on hand and took the time to talk to us about Little Louie's. Which I can describe as a bright light in the mostly dull restaurant scene in the Cambridge area.
This place looks exactly like what I imagine a 50s burger joint should look like. It has licence plates on the wall and a no-nonsense approach to good food. It smells great in there too! Since it was our first time there, one of the staff explained the way to order a burger off the handy little clip board or explained that we could order off the boards. They had a weekly burger special, soups and a daily panini.
I ordered an old fashioned malted vanilla shake to drink. I figured since I was having a 50s style burger lunch, I needed a 50s style drink.
This milkshake was amazing. The malted flavour was delicious. Loved it!
I decided to order the 5 oz. beef burger on a soft egg bun with hickory smoked bacon, fried onions, swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and horseradish aioli. I choose frites to go with my burger. The horseradish aioli was a kind of strange pinkish colour but tasted amazing. I meant to ask why the colour but forgot.
Oh, how I've missed Lily Ruth...these are the same burgers that I use to order for lunch when they were situated downtown. These are excellent burgers. Succulent and moist. So good! The fact that I got to select my own toppings made the burger more personal and delicious.
We also ordered a soup, after all this is also a soupery. We ordered the 'Smoked Chicken and Mushroom Soup". The mushrooms were so soft and the chicken's smokiness added the perfect balance to the soup's creamy goodness.
The soup came with a little egg bun. It was a little sweet just like a Portuguese "bolo de leite". Enjoyed it so much.
I was smiling from ear to ear after enjoying this wonderful lunch at Little Louie's. It makes me happy that places like this exist in my neck of the woods.
On the way out, I had to get some of Rachelle's baked goodies. I purchased a couple of the almond raspberry tarts, an apricot bar and a raspberry chocolate macaroon. So far I've had the almond raspberry tart and let's just say...Rachelle can bake. Yummy! Who am I kidding...as I'm writing and munching away, I've now had the raspberry chocolate macaroon and it too is outstanding.
Little Louie's Burger Joint and Soupery is awesome and I will definitely eat here again...we have calculated that we can catch them open on the way home from work...so no need for a day off!!!
In his opinion:
Me, I'm sort of sick of the fast food burgers and the cookie cutter burgers you will find in most places in this town. When you reach this point, that's when you know you are ready for Little Louie's Burger Joint and Soupery!
Nothing assembly line or boring burger about this place. It has a 50s diner feeling with the usual 50s paraphernalia hanging on the walls. It feels like it's going to be a different burger experience from the start. For those of us trying this place for the first time, staff quickly explains the process and points to all the options before giving us a tiny clipboard with the burger selection/topping choices. There is always a burger of the week, soup selections and the daily Panini up on the Board as alternative to the a "la carte" burger.
I opted for the burger and took my sweet time making my decisions. But there are so many decisions to make and according to my stomach, so little time to do it. After much debate (as usual), I chose the beef burger on a soft egg bun, but the 8oz size, as I was hungry and felt that the 5oz just wouldn't do it. But then the decisions got harder. Peppered havarti, sliced tomatoes, hickory smoked bacon and leaf lettuce with siracha aioli were the winning choices. That seems pretty straight forward but that was just me not being fancy as toppings like sun dried tomato, salsa picante and grilled pineapple were also options. Choose the seasoned onion strings as my side (which ended up being awesome by the way). After all I'm a NO FRY GUY! Most of the time anyway!
The burger was extremely juicy and you could taste the different layers of the burger as you bit into it. The siracha aioli (a Thai style Chile and garlic sauce) gave it the spice, while the hickory bacon smothers it with it's smoked flavour. The beef patty is moist and tender and even though large, it never feels like it controls the taste, allowing the toppings, condiments and egg bread to co-exist perfectly.
This is definitely a place I will return to often! Just as we had done when this was as sandwich joint incarnation by different owners. The friendly staff and the attention of the owners to the food they serve (they even took the time to explain the details and inner workings of their business) tell me why this place is already a success! It will enjoy prosperity for a long time. Kudos to the mixed casual and elegant preparation and presentation of the food. It highlights the mixture of style and clientèle that the owners serve to through their catering services and also this burger spot.
The good: A gourmet burger type of place is welcome is any city but with this level of taste, service and accessibility, I'm very glad they are in our town saving us a long drive when the burger cravings come knocking.
The bad: The hours...only opened until 6 pm and closed on weekends does restrict the clientèle to nearby workers, and non commuters. Harder for us 9-5ers that don't get back to Galt (Cambridge) in time to enjoy it.
The verdict: Not easy to find a gourmet burger at regular prices anywhere, but especially in Cambridge. A no frills, no nonsense approach to good food with exceptional ingredients and lots of flavour. Also saving me a trip to Stratford's Boomers for a great burger will come in handy.
I give it a 3 1/2 olives out of 5 as rating.
***Update: Please be advised that as of September 17, 2012 the restaurant will be opened from 11am to 8 pm Monday to Friday!