Taste of Crescent City  I’ll admit I fretted over the closing of Clouds Downtown. For one thing, I thought, how will any city business get done? It was the power lunch place in town. But after our meal last week at Louie’s Cajun Kitchen and Bourbon Bar, the new venture by Cloud owners Lou and Kristi Caviglia, I don’t care. The suits at City Hall can woo Apple Store execs over peanut butter sandwiches for all I care as long as Louie’s, which isn’t doing weekday lunches anymore, keeps the BBQ shrimp and cheesy grits ($8.95) appetizers coming. (Seriously. Don’t miss out on that.)

Along with plates of shrimp in a sweet, tangy sauce on a pool of creamy hominy goodness, Louie’s serves up the following as appetizers or small plates: deviled eggs ($3), mini chicken pot pies ($6.95), blazing chicken wings with a confit touch ($6.95), oysters many different ways. We had a cup of shrimp and crawfish gumbo ($5), gluten-free and pleasingly flavorful yet light. (The chicken and andouille gumbo is heartier, spicier and earthier—it’ll be perfect for a cold rainy day.) I skipped salad but noted with approval that, in a world of $9 and $10 restaurant salads, Louie’s is serving them for $6-$8 (including the old Clouds favorite, the hearts of romaine). In fact, prices throughout the menu are geared for reality and lots of repeat business. The dinner menu has pulled pork sandwiches and po’ boys from $8. The salmon is $18. I had a quarter fried chicken with a side of green beans for $8.95. The beans were superb—crunchy and bright green the way Californians like them, but cooked in bacon and onion the way Southern tastes dictate. This ethos runs throughout: flavors are clean, veggies are crisp and unnecessary grease is avoided. It’s health-conscious soul food. Of course there are the beignets and pecan tartlet for dessert (both housemade, $5.95 each), and the very nice bourbon selection (with Blanton’s, so you know they’re serious). It’s not all healthy. But fun’s good for you too. Open Tue–Sun 2-10pm, Sunday brunch at 10:30am.

Alfresco Gourmet   The Homeless Garden Project is holding the second of three farm dinners on Saturday, Aug. 18, 4-7pm. This Westside farm is drop-dead gorgeous, and at $55 a ticket the price of the three-course Sustain Dinner with local wine pairings can’t be beat (some white-linen field dinners run close to $200 per plate). Call 831.426.3609 or visit