Feeding body and soul, all in one trip around Montclair (Robin’s Nest)
Cap’t Loui Louisiana-style seafood restaurant caught my attention from its name and location in the Louis Harris building on South Park Street. Louis and Louisiana, a common denominator.
It’s part of a franchise business created in 2016 in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Bryce Han and his business partner, Sean Kim, opened their restaurant in Montclair in November 2021.
Bryce, who lives in Palisades Park, said, “We fell in love with Montclair and decided that it was a great place for us to serve our authentic crab boil with crab, lobster, crawfish, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob.”
Bryce and Sean share the responsibilities of running the business seven days a week, from cooking and kitchen staffing to managing the back end, ordering supplies and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
Bryce came to Florida from his native Korea when he was 14 and learned to cook for himself while his single mom spent long hours at work. He said, “I have no culinary arts training, but have loved to cook since I was young. I studied business and love to travel all over and find different dining experiences.”
The décor is interesting and colorful, from the large crab logo on the entry wall to the colored lights hanging from the ceiling. It’s an eclectic rainbow mixture of street fair, birthday party and Mardi Gras in New Orleans themes.
Seafood is sold by the pound, and lunch specials come in smaller portions of shrimp, clams, crawfish and mussels, or fried fish, chicken wings and tenders. There’s a secret Cap’t Loui sauce with ingredients that neither Bryce nor Sean would share with me, or a simple lemon pepper sauce, made mild to extra-hot. Clam chowder and jambalaya bring you straight to Cajun country.
Full disclosure: You know me, with my numerous allergies and vegetarian diet, so I’m not doing a full food review here. I was hungry, and I had to taste the Cajun fries, which were extra-crispy and super-spicy on the outside, creamy on the inside. I assume that they’re double-fried.
My trusty photographer and food taster with a sophisticated palate, Neil Grabowsky, ordered the shrimp basket with lemon pepper fries, which he enjoyed, mentioning that the cocktail sauce, which came with it, had fresh horseradish, a pleasant surprise.
Bryce and Sean are good friends, brought together by their wives. Sean came to the U.S. from Korea in 2007. Another self-trained amateur chef, he taught martial arts in N.Y.C. and also lives in Palisades Park.
Another thing I noticed about Cap’t Loui is that it didn’t smell at all like seafood in there when I took off my mask. Sean said, “Fresh fish shouldn’t smell too fishy at all, but just taste fresh.”
Sean brought Neil and me a crab boil to use for our photo op, to watch how it’s served. It arrived at our table in a large metal bucket, with all cooked ingredients inside a plastic bag. The tables are fully covered with white paper.
Choose what you want to eat after pouring it all out in front of you, from crab legs to lobster, and crack open the shells with the special cutlery tools included. Oysters on the half-shell are also available on the menu, but I’m too squeamish to even think about eating them.
The heads-on crawfish freaked me out a little bit until I decided to think of them as new Muppets characters.
No longer crabby, and feeling sated? Time for us to get creative at One River School on Seymour Plaza, right across from the Wellmont Theater sign. The latest branch and 14th of the chain founded in 2012 held its grand opening in Montclair in January 2022.
During a phone interview with One River School director Erin Foley, I asked her how it differs from other art and digital classes offered around town. The name of the school comes from being “one river west” of New York City.
Erin grew up in Verona and has been an arts educator for more than 20 years, including working at Montclair High School. She holds a license to teach grades K-12 in New York and New Jersey.
The pandemic changed everything, and she taught classes via Zoom instead of in person.
She said, “We had to pivot and become virtual teachers. Parents are trying for well-rounded kids … Whatever age, there is a class for you as you go on your creative journey. We are evolving and changing, and hear what the community wants and needs for art enrichment.”
Students as young as 3 years old, up to adults of any age, can start classes at any time, rather than wait for a set session and number of classes of interest. You can create your own unique program and stay for as long as you wish, in person or online. One River School operates on a subscription-based model, usually paid monthly.
Pre-K tiny Picassos are hands-on with materials as they explore many ways to be creative and have fun at the same time. The K-2 program offers Kids Art Shuffle in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media.
As they get older, kids can focus on cartooning, drawing and digital art, as they are shown the tools and software to bring inspiration to life.
It’s time to get ready for summer classes, which can be purchased by the week in various time slots, for a few hours a day or all day. You can bring a bag lunch with you to eat in between the morning and afternoon sessions, or grab a bite from one of the numerous food establishments in the central business district.
Adults might want to take classes in design basics and photoshop, which can be used for business and work projects as well. Studio art and painting can help you to relax and have fun while learning.
I asked Erin about what she does with her free time while not teaching or being with her two young children, and she said, “My creative outlet is in ceramics, which is my forte and area of expertise, along with acrylic painting. I can’t wait to travel again, hit the art scene in person, relax and have fun.”
Feed your body and your soul. Eat and explore more around town as we emerge from hibernation to socializing and artistic creations.
In this article:
- Cap’t Loui
10 Park St., 973-337-5227
- One River School
6 Seymour Plaza
Robin Woods is a local girl-about-town, writing about activities, stores, restaurants and interesting people that catch her eye. She’s written memoirs and personal essays, as well as music and fashion columns for various New York City newspapers. Her writing awards include the Shirley Chisholm Award for Journalism and the Director's Award of the Essex County Legacies Essay contest.