Neighborhood Joints

Bitchin' Crabcakes at Lou's Beer Garden

Finding Lou's Beer Garden, 2010

Best of Winner for New Bar/North, is made easier by the bright

neon sign in front of The New Hotel. But it's not easy

to find.

The entrance is on the side of the

hotel. You follow a path wreathed with green on either side, then emerge onto a concrete pool deck. There's often live

entertainment and always more neon lighting up the bar. Scattered

tables with comfortable plastic chairs dot the

concrete patio that wraps around the pool. Nothing screams "bar"

or "restaurant." So you wonder whether you're in the place

that serves $22 New Zealand lamb and $9 beers.

The table ordered two Chimay Tripels

($9.69), one of three Belgian beers on tap. We tried for a glass of Juan de

Valdelana Rioja ($8), but they were out so we settled for the Vina los Valles Organic Rioja

($8.50). Lou's serves only red,

white, and sparkling wine, and beer. The beers on tap include Raging Bitch ($7.50), Dead Guy Ale ($7.25), and Hennepin ($6.75). Bottled beers, featuring Monk in a

Trunk organic ale ($6), Strong Bow Dry Cider ($6), and Buffalo Bill's

Pumpkin Ale ($6) range in price from $6 to $7.50.

John Zur
Chef Lou Ramirez, chef and owner,

prides himself on his gastropub. His menu is a constant work in

progress. He works with purveyors such as FreshPoint, and puts a lot of care into

a menu that he fears is becoming too fine dining. "We're getting

too close," Chef Ramirez says, then shudders at the thought. He

explains that his pizzas ($13 to $16.95), which are cracker-crispy are made with

five types of flour. The veggie pizza ($16.95) is topped with tomato

sauce, mozzarella, onions, green bell peppers, kalamata olives,

mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. Sauce is the only ingredient lacking.

The menu is diverse, yet simple. There

are just two salads: summer blue ($9.50) and Onassis Greek ($10.50, $13.50 with shrimp). The Greek salad is not

over-dressed and is comprised of fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red

onions, kalamata olives, cucumbers, green bell peppers, and Greek

feta cheese drizzled with Esporao Portuguese E.V.O.O. and fresh

pressed lemon juice.

John Zur
There is a cheeseboard ($14), a meat board ($15), and a cheeseboard/meat board combo ($22). The flash

fried calamari ($11.95) comes with baby squid rings cut and flash

fried (in peanut oil) to order and served with San Marzano tomato

marinara sauce, of which the order could use a more generous side of.

Chef's Table Specials include Bitchin' mini crab cakes ($15.95)

pan-fried and complemented by lightly seasoned Rucula and the Chef's

three sauces. The organic churrasco steak sandwich ($12.95) is cooked

to temperature (medium-rare is recommended) and pressed with French

baguette and melted blue cheese, and served with an arugula salad

with tomatoes and onions.

John Zur
While the menu does not currently offer

dessert, Chef Ramirez tells us that his sous chef, who has a penchant

for desserts, is working on items such as a key lime pie made with a

shortbread crust.

Lou's Beer Garden
7337 Harding Ave., Miami Beach


KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Zur