1/09/2013 07:00:00 PM

Classic Dishes: Shrimp Louie in LA

Bedford & Burns' shrimp Louie
Shrimp Louie isn't something you see on menus much anymore. The dish was probably created somewhere more north, San Francisco or the Pacific Northwest, and most likely featured crab before shrimp. But either way, it's from a bygone era and most often served in places that can't let go of classics or the customers that love them. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's actually something quite comforting about a salad tossed with shrimp or crab, a piquant dressing similar to Thousand Island, and an array of chilled vegetables and hard-boiled eggs. There are no fancy greens, no artisanal anything. It's simple on the plate and generally not cheap, but when it's done well, it's really, really good.

The new Bedford & Burns bistro just opened a few weeks ago in Beverly Hills, but the family behind it has a restaurant history, from the Burns Pharmacy that opened in 1918 to the Bob Burns Coffee Shops in the 1950s to Santa Monica's Marmalade Cafe today. The menu at the latest Burns restaurant is big and peppered with mostly classic dishes, but nothing served "with a twist" like a lot of new-trying-to-be retro restaurants. It's straightforward fare for a traditional Beverly Hills crowd. Still, we really liked the shrimp Louie - eight plump, juicy shrimp coated with dressing, set around a nice crisp hunk of iceberg, chilled asparagus spears, some avocado, a few quarters of hard-boiled egg and halved cherry tomatoes. It comes with a side of dressing in case you want to douse it more; we used it like a dipping sauce. A truly classic shrimp Louie would be less deconstructed (the way our friend would've preferred it), but everything was fresh and crisp. It worked for us.

You can still find a shrimp Louie salad at Musso & Frank's, of course, and a really good one at the Grill on the Alley. There's a decent version at the Water Grill in Downtown LA, and there's a crab Louie at the Santa Monica Seafood Cafe. But like fashion, food trends often come around again. We wonder if it will make a comeback. If you know of a great shrimp or crab Louie, give 'em a shout out in the comments.


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