Lucques – Studded With Awards, Good Enough For Two

by Franklin on February 10, 2012

It was fate. I hate to admit — I almost skipped my reservation at Lucques. I waited there in the car, right next to the restaurant. Having reservations at 5 PM, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to eat that early. The sun was still out! After much contemplation, I parked, and I went inside. I sure was happy that I did. Chef Suzanne Goin knows her way around the kitchen, and the food is a testament of those skills. Owner of some of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, guest judge of Bravo’s Top Chef, and named California’s best chef of 2006 by the James Beard Foundation, I would have been a fool to turn her restaurant down.

Once I walked in, the interior was interesting. Once inside, you are warped into a place away from the Los Angeles hustle bustle. Having virtually no direct windows facing Melrose, the restaurant is very detached from the city. The quaint fireplace and seating area, to the brick walls, the restaurant was very comforting. Enjoying our Dine LA menu was simple and delicious. They didn’t even give us a hard time about sharing the prix fixe menu.

We started off with some awesome appetizers. The bread and butter was amazing, but the best part was the almonds and olives. Glistening with a coat of olive oil, the green olives were salty, but not too salty. The almonds were buttery and quite possibly the best almonds I ever had. Eating the bread with some sea salt and butter was a treat. If the complimentary items were this good, the dishes must be amazing is what I though. I was right.

The endive and schaner citrus salad was interesting. The endive were fresh and crunchy. The flavors of the green olives and green harissa made things pop and the wedges of citrus fruits gave everything fresh acidic taste. This would be perfect after a rich and fatty meal.

For the main course, we went with something we would never try normally. The pancetta-wrapped market fish was in both of our minds. It was served with parsnips, hazelnuts, and balsamic brussels sprouts. The trout was cooked nicely, not overcooked at all. Though it had a few bones, it had a nice mellow flavor and texture. The hazelnuts gave the dish a nice textural crunch as it turned the dish’s flavor a bit more complex. Brussels sprouts seem to be making a come back in dishes, and these were perfect in the balsamic reduced sauce. The panchetta, though lost in this dish as itself served to pronounce the flavors of the sauce and fish.

The bittersweet chocolate torta with mascarpone, hazelnut caramel and coffee ice cream was a great dessert. The chocolate torta was sort of like a cakey fudge, but not as dense. The coffee ice cream was superb, and quite possibly the best coffee ice cream I ever had. I felt they made it from scratch, from brewed coffee and all. A lot of effort went into this dessert, and I appreciated it very much.

As I was waiting at the bar area, I noticed a book called Sunday Supper at Lucques. Interestingly enough. I was having supper at Lucques on a Sunday evening. After appreciating my good meal, almost not having it, I knew it was fate. I was meant to eat here. Chef Goin did a good job, as she does at A.O.C., Tavern, The Hungry Cat, and others. I even read she used to be the executive chef of Campanile. With such a track record of successful restaurants in Los Angeles, it is no wonder that I had a great time at Lucques. If it weren’t for this, I probably would have just driven off, not knowing what I had missed.

The 17th Annual SAG Awards tasting menu was held at Lucques. An old video, but pretty cool to have eaten there not too long ago. Random video, but I thought I would share it with all of you.

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