In a word: Tasty and pricey.
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JM ate the tenderloin cordon bleu with salad, a lemonade, and peanut butter pie for dessert.
Nichole ate the cocoa beef tenderloin tips special with salad, a diet Coke and chocolate creme brulee for dessert.
The bill was $83, or $41.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Louisianne's an A- (see our grading rubric).
Nichole and JM had been here before in the heady pre-blog days of their even younger married life. It was one of those experiences. Nichole cashed in a certain amount of her goodwill with JM and he put up with paying more than he was comfortable with for, let's face it, one meal. But if Eating in Madison has taught us one thing, it is that looking backward doesn't necessarily help you to look forward because the circumstances change. We again descended the stairs and began our dimly lit dinner in a secluded corner.
Warm bread and green salads kicked things off. A fresh house-made remoulade of the non-mayonnaise school was nicely spicy; otherwise the starters were unremarkable.
Nichole's cocoa beef tenderloin tips were plated beautifully: morsels of beef, meaty button mushrooms, and supremed orange pieces ringed a small pile of dumplings, all over a brandy brown butter orange glaze and dusted with cocoa. Each bite was new and exciting. The primary flavor was a sweet meatiness, balanced by judicious use of some crumbled bleu cheese (provided on the side, due to a tiny oversight in prep, but it was probably better that way). The centerpiece of spinach Parmesan dumplings were essentially a more sophisticated version of the old party standby. Only better - crispy outside and tender inside, they held together well. Saving room for dessert, Nichole took some food home. The remainder of her meal did not reheat so well; in fact, while the flavors were good, in the bright light of day it was clear just how dependent the dish was on lipids for its goodness.
JM thoroughly enjoyed his two spirals of beef and ham, topped as they were with cheese and served in a decadent and rich sauce. Like all good spicy food, the heat of the spices radiated out instead of poking you in the tougue. The side of spuds were real, chunky, but not overly buttery. They did turn out to be a good vehicle for the extra sauce. Unlike many dishes of this size every bite was different. Nichole's nibble was a little too salty, but JM thought it was pretty much as good as you need.
Since we were already putting this meal on the card, we splurged on dessert. Nichole's chocolate creme brulee was not the vaunted treat she'd heard it was - the top was outright burned. So she helped herself to much of JM's peanut butter pie. Somewhere deep from within the cores of our beings we heard the small plaintive voices of our gall bladders, begging for a small degree of mercy, but our tastebuds would have none of it. Enjoying forkfuls of the melt-in-your-mouth filling was not unlike eating a whipped butter popsicle, only warmer. The sugary, slightly grainy texture was addictive, and the graham cracker crust was insanely firm, almost Fort Knoxian.
There are a few factors that made us debate Louisianne's place on the A-/B+ spectrum. JM had a hard time finding a dish he'd like, since all the non-steak entrees include spinach or seafood. Nichole's special was good, but of course it's not always going to be available. The cost is a little shocking, though not as much as it was the time we went 10 years ago with the attendant money worries of a full-time grad student and a frugal hubby. Refills aren't free, either. And while the subterranean architecture is charming (again, too dark for photos), the cheap framed posters detract from it. There are other joints we'd be happier dropping $80 for dinner at, but Louisianne's was pretty good.