A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from an old high school baseball buddy, Chris Shanks. He and partner Brian Elcano recently purchased and remodeled Louis Basque Corner and wanted some pictures for their website (under construction) and Facebook page. They put in new floors—150-year-old reclaimed barn wood—a new bar, exposed the brick walls and raised the ceilings to feature the original duct work.
It looks great. Old and new, all at once. And the food is as good as it ever was.
Basque food, if you haven’t eaten it before, is delicious. Lots of lamb and other grilled meats, fish and rabbit and chicken in various sauces, stews (oxtail bourguignon and tongue are my favorite) and of course, sweet breads. The meals are often served family style—although Louis has an excellent tapas menu—and come with soup, salad, beans (put the beans on the salad), fries (get ’em with garlic) and red wine. For dessert they offer vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s syrup (so simple it works) or dry-aged jack cheese (my favorite finisher). Head chef Frank Vargas is a cool guy, very talented and a lot of fun to watch in the kitchen.
Of course, the signature Basque signature is the Picon Punch. And Louis makes a good one. The recipe1 is simple—but outside of Nevada, the ingredients are hard to come by2.
I spent two days at the restaurant photographing food and Picons, interiors and exteriors and a few portraits. It was the perfect gig. I got to work with friends, ate great food and they let me play. I love mixing photojournalism and corporate work. It’s a really cool way to tell a story.