Charlou

Charlou Sign

Soft Opening & Beyond

May 11, 2019

Welcome to Charlou‘s soft opening! As a La Bodega club member, I was invited to enjoy the evening of discounted food in return for reviewing my experience afterward. Being me, I jumped at the chance to bring Derek on a different kind of date night.

Same Place, Different Place

The location will be familiar to Alaskans as it has housed many restaurants in the past. Most recently, La Potato. Most memorable, The Fly by Night Club. Parking was a breeze due to the large parking lot on site. After a quick walk, we were greeted by the hostess warmly and pointed to the bar because the kitchen was running behind schedule. We took our seats on the bright red leather stools and took in the comfortable, bright atmosphere. The remodel was welcome as it wasn’t too loud or a bit dark and sketchy as in previous incarnations. Children would definitely be welcome and some were already there. A quick glance at customers behind us revealed familiar La Bodega faces, and two open tables. Due to this observation, I made the assumption the owners wanted some feedback from the bar and therefore recommended our seating as such.

Charlou Decor
Charlou Decor
Charlou Wine
Charlou Wine

A Bit Behind…

Our bartender greeted us with a friendly introduction and we were told a second time the kitchen was running behind, but she was quick to offer wine tastings. I always find this to be a nice, upscale touch. After making a wine decision, I took the time to peruse the menu. Even though it was limited, everything available had delicious descriptions. Derek ordered the AK Bacon Burger, and I ordered the Hot AK Halibut Sandwich.

As time passed without food we were checked on not just by our bartender, but by owners and servers alike, and there was genuine concern in everyone’s voices. At one point, about an hour into our wait, the bartender apologetically said, “I have no idea when your food is coming.” I saw this as a plus because at least it was honest. Although I have to admit an offer of a free appetizer would have gone a long way. It’s important to note we weren’t upset in the least. We knew what to expect from a soft opening and the staff was excellent. A snack just would have been a nice gesture.

Wonderful Staff

During our wait, it was clear the staff was very concerned about getting things right despite the struggles they were facing in the kitchen. Derek and I had reservations at 7:30 and we received food at 9:47. That taken into account, I’d still call the team on deck that night superheroes.

Hot AK Halibut
Hot AK Halibut

Wonderful Food

The star of the show was the Hot AK Halibut. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy, and the portion of halibut was almost too large for the sandwich. Most Alaskans get perturbed if their serving of fish is too small- it was not the case here. The bread struggled to keep things together, but it was so delicious I didn’t mind the “fork to face” situation.

Derek left satisfied with his burger, and though he was a bit worried about the beet ketchup, he ended up enjoying it a lot. Sadly, he didn’t have any over-the-top review for this burger. To be forthcoming, he happens to have a favorite burger in town that nothing has surpassed so far… tough standard.

Review Time
Review Time

Final Thoughts

Final service lacked a bit as all hands were not “on deck” for water and plate clean up. We saw employees look at plates which were clearly “finished” and walk away without picking them up. Although I think this could be easily remedied.

We will be back- it’s hard to beat and Alaskan Chef is using locally sourced food.

Second Visit
Second Try

July 18, 2019

We’re back for dinner with friends! Our group of four opted to sit outside this time, and there was no trouble due to the lack of customers. (Pause for “uh oh”.) We were greeted with a smile and quickly visited by our server, Ty. The group was offered samples of drink choices before commitment was required- a welcome carry-over from the soft opening. Also, it should be noted that Ty wasn’t afraid to say he needed to check with “smarter” people about possible drink pairings. I considered this a major positive at a restaurant owned by a very formidable local liquor store.

Wine/Sake
Wine/Sake
Beer
Beer

All of the menus had increased in variety of options as expected. I opted for a Rose’ as Derek was going to order beer. Ty was attentive and both selections were enjoyed and refilled promptly.

Small Plates

Halibut Ceviche
Halibut Ceviche

I want to take time to discuss Charlou’s small plate selection. It’s quite varied and enticed two of us to order only those for dinner. We each ordered two small plates. I will focus on my choices, the Halibut Ceviche and the dressed Oysters in vodka with watermelon.

First, the negative. For small plates, that were actually small, the price was a bit high: $7-$12. Second, the positive. The presentation was beautiful and the flavors were awesome! My ceviche was light and fresh with a little kick of heat, and my oysters (which I usually enjoy plain and raw) were a delight in my mouth as the watermelon snapped crispy and juicy between my teeth. It was a hot day and both of my plates satisfied.

Oysters
Oysters

I don’t want to spend much time on what the boys ordered because they matched what our order was at the soft opening. Derek had the AK Bacon Burger, and our guest had the Hot AK Halibut. Both stood out as meals they would reorder. The only difference I noted this visit was the addition of homemade chips. Very tasty.

Good Luck & Cheers!

It’s easy to say that Charlou has more than potential, but it’s a hard market in Alaska. I highly recommend going for after work drinks and small plates. Hungry for more? Stop in for one of their main courses. You’ll love the staff and the food, and please ask them about their wine, sake, and beer offerings. They are one heck of a knowledgeable crew.

Cheers!
Cheers!

*Apologies for the odd formatting. I had to switch back to the classic editor and, well, it didn’t like that. 
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LEE

My heart breaks. Disolves.

She doesn’t love me.

Years of love; years of sacrifice.

Her father sleeps

out of overwhelming pain.

Nothing I can do;

nothing he can do.

Silence.

Anger.

Truth.

She is ours. We love her.

He sleeps so he doesn’t feel.

Yet it isn’t true.

He just sleeps.

We love.

How does one ignore ignorance

when it’s one’s job to teach?

One ignores because of ignorance.

I am alone in this.

An atom.

A singularity; the strongest feelings

of love turned inside out.

Boom.

Love łives here.

He’s broken.

I love him. I love her.

I still love her.

I still love him.

He rejects me to keep her.

I’m no longer allowed to love freely.

All is controlled by him. By her.

She is his. We love her.

Now our love is ticking.

Boom.

Sunday Beer Blog: Amber Earth ESB

Today I partook in Arkose Amber Earth ESB. It poured medium gold, and was actually a lot like the print on the bottle. It’s small amount of head gave way to a yeasty, ordinary beer “non-smell”. Think Coors or Bud. (Don’t be upset Arkose!) I was a bit hesitant to take the first sip, but was met pleasantly by effervescence and a wonderful barley-yeast-hop combination.

ESB
Arkose ESB

I felt a little embarrassed by my hesitation because I should have known better. This is Arkose and they rock beer. They are a very consistent brewery.

A note on the hop bitterness- it was only slightly bitter. Online, the description shays “light hop bitterness” and I would agree. I wish it was a warmer day because it was very easy to drink and refreshing, but it still hit the spot overall.

Amber Earth
Arkose Amber Earth

I have to admit to drinking this without my husband. In my defense, he was having a beer with his buddy without me at the same time. I was a woman scorned. (I saved him a taster. I’m not an animal.)

Brewery: Arkose Brewery

Style: ESB

ABV: 5%

IBU: 30

Purchase Location: Wine House

Sunday Beer Blog: Outta Line

Rogue has provided us with a very cute can and that was all this girl needed. Seriously, a penguin in a jet pack?

Beer Can

Outta Line is a West Coast IPA. It poured a beautiful gold and displayed ample head. The initial scent was hop forward as expected.

“Wow. That’s delicious.”

Frothy Head

I audibly liked this beer from first sip. It was a sweet hop flavor finished with a tart balance. Second sip smoothed out even more and the effervescence showed through.

I may have purchased for the can, but I’ll repurchase for the beer.

Rogue

Brewer: Rogue Ales

ABV: 6.9%

Style: West Coast IPA

Purchased: La Bodega

Sunday Beer Blog: Must Kuld Porter

La Bodega gifted us with a beer from Estonia this month. Estonia! If you’re like me, here’s a map to paint a clear picture.

Map
Estonia

What I found more interesting was Chris Pilkington of Scotland’s Brewdog joined the Põhjala team. The creative collaborations are going to be endless.

Black Gold
“Black Gold”

The beer itself was dark brown and opaque. The scent was fruit and molasses. The mouthfeel was surprisingly light and the first taste was also surprisingly syrupy. The second tasting gave me a more complete picture. The malt comes in and balances the sweet. Cocoa and coffee flavors abound, but lean toward a bitter finish.

Black Gold

I think this was a beer which would have been better after a sturdy meal. Even the bottle says to enjoy “as a dessert at the end of a decadent meal”. I feel that if given enough food flavor, this porter would cut through and finish the evening quite nicely.

Brewer: Põhjala

Style: Porter

ABV: 7.8%

Purchase Location: La Bodega

Sunday Beer Blog: Tastes Like Space

Belching Beaver has been impressing me for a while now so I was excited to try Tastes Like Space when Derek brought it home. (Gifts like this keep a marriage happy.)

Tastes Like Space

TLS is a stout with caramel flavor and cocoa nibs added. The pour provided a rich dark color and decent head that dissipated quickly, and it had a delicious chocolate scent. The first sip was sweet at the front and a bit bitter at the finish. Not bitter in a bad way, just in a well-rounded way. I’d venture to say the initial taste is caramel and the finish is nib.

Tastes Like Space

The can reads “store cold drink fresh”, but we enjoyed this brew at room temperature. I think it really let the caramel and chocolate notes shine through.

We are big fans of Sam Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. This one is very similar. I can’t wait to try mixing it with a Cherry Lambic. (If you haven’t tried this, do so now. Thank me later.)

Sláinte!

Brewer: Belching Beaver Brewery

Style: Stout

ABV: 5.3%

Purchase Location: La Bodega

Sunday Beer Blog: Arcadium Gruit

Arcadium Gruit

This beer is out of Tennessee. It’s by VonSeitz TheoreticAles. It’s a gruit with rosemary, savory, and marjoram. It’s actually a very complicated beer. I recommend you check out the brewers website. (See below.)

According to our friends at La Bodega, this was supposedly not too sour. After the first pour, the smell said sour patch kids had an accidental baby with those cheap sour rings you get at gas stations. I persevered.

Yellow Brown Ale

Syrup-yellow brown color, not auburn, is how I’d describe it. It was very distinctive. The mouthfeel was really nice and effervescent. I prepared for the worst, but the initial sip was not bad. It was actually pleasantly lambic in nature.

I grew braver on the second sip and let things swish. Tart but sweet. Maybe sour patch kids were in a committed relationship with gummy bears.

Thank goodness for the bubbles. They really took the flavors and rushed them around. It gave this brew the lightness it needed. Otherwise I think this would be close to barley wine. I don’t think I’ll repurchase, but I recommend this highly, especially to those sour beer lovers out there.

Brewer: VonSeitz TheoreticAles

Beer Type: Gruit

AVB: 6.1%

Purchase Location: La Bodega

Sunday Beer Blog: Zwart Black Star

Yes, it’s January. Yes, there’s snow on the ground. No, this was not a timely post. BUT I still think it’s worth mentioning this one. Surly Brewing Co.’s Zwart Black Star 8 is a Brewmaster’s collaboration between Ben Smith, Jerrod Johnson, and Dirk Naudis of De Proef Brouwerij.

img_2321
Minnesota
Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

 

I received this ale as part of my monthly beer club from La Bodega. While I’m not always a fan of what I get as a member of this program, I can always rest assured the beers are unique. This collaboration was not a disappointment in that arena.

The ale was bright amber in color. The note of star anise was nice, but the Brett was not. I’m just not a fan. I’ve tried so many Brett beers and my tastebuds are still very much against them. After pour, there was a really nice head, and a pleasant aroma. The first taste was sour and sweet. More than one sip proved this a complicated beer. I actually really liked the first notes. I dared to swish it around in my mouth and I got sweet, sour, and decent effervescence. Overall it was pleasant if not for the Brett. Brett fan? Run and grab this beer.

Little tidbit: this was named after Bowie’s final album “Blackstar”. My mother had a major thing for Bowie. She’s a very proper person, but when I was growing up she’d drop hints. I think the most scaring moment for me was when, after watching the movie Labyrinth, she announced that David Bowie should always wear tights as pants. Wowza. The only thing I could do to cope with the blow was wait until I had children, let them watch Labyrinth, and then let them know about Nana’s desires. Done and done. You’re welcome S and L.

To prove how much I love my mamma, and how I really did recover from too much information, here are some gratuitous shots of the man. Although, please note the Labyrinth photos have been omitted. I can only handle so much.

Brewer: Surly Brewing Co

Style: Old Ale

ABV: 8%

Purchased: La Bodega

Sunday Beer Blog: Grapefruit IPA

Arkose Brewery is a favorite of Derek’s and mine. It’s located in Palmer and has been open since 2011. It was nice to see them get a shout-out in my beer club selections from La Bodega. Included was Mandarina Moose Grapefruit IPA.

“Austin and I proceeded to knock back a couple of Ketel One and grapefruit juices, which happened to be my drink of the moment. Someone told me that grapefruit was a great detoxifier and I decided I wanted to start cleaning out my liver WHILE I was having a cocktail.”  -Chelsea Handler

My husband, Derek, doesn’t care for citrus beers, so I knew I’d get the lion’s share of this one. On this particular occasion, he was out of town, so I left all beer-drinking guilt behind and popped the top of what I hoped would be a citrus treasure.

ArkoseEdit

When poured, there was a lot of white, fluffy head that quickly diminished. It was such a lovely burnt orange color I had to hold it up to the sun and take the picture you’ll see below. There was a strong grapefruit smell, but the taste was not overwhelming. A bitter zing hits the back of the throat, and is balanced by a sweetness which hits the tongue and cheeks. The mouthfeel consisted of a light coating and medium carbonation. I didn’t love the finish, but it was a really solid IPA…with a twist.

Arkose2Edit

(See what I did there? Snicker. Snort.)

 

 

 

 

Brewer: Arkose Brewery

Stlye: IPA

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 72

Purchased: La Bodega (beer club)