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Lucien in EV?

  • m

anyone been to lucien recently ? It's getting blasted on menupages. Has it really declined substantially? I used to love this place

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  1. I went one time last winter for the bouillabaisse, based on Ch recommendations. I found the staff and clientele loud and rude (ok, it's the East Village) but the bouillabaisse was also a big disappointment, I had to ask for rouille which turned out to be just like mayonnaise with no garlic at all. No sense of fennel or pernod-- it was a stew with fish but not what I look for in a bouillabaisse. That was the only time I went there so I don't know if that was typical or not.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dbird

      Hi...sorry you had a poor experience (i feel partly responsible because i regularly recommend the place here)...truth be told, i had one overly salty, sub-standard order of bouillabaise there myself (about six months ago) but it was better the time after that, and usually (maybe i've had the dish there 25 times?) it's been excellent: but since these days i usually order the salmon or the lamb, i can't verify how it really is lately with any statistical accuracy...(i also like the endive salad and when i went there last week, my friend adored her steak frites)...

      i go there very often (like 4 times a month at least) and i do know that the owner cares about the food quality...if you ever return there, i'd recommend mentioning the bouillabaise issue to him (he's usually there during the day) in a one-foodie-to-another kinda way, and i'd imagine he'd appreciate the comment...cheers

      1. re: dbird

        This place has been sliding downhill for years. Add in that the service is very often HORRIBLE, and it is a must pass even though it is by far and away the closest causual French near to mi casa. Cutting corners must be Lucien in French.

      2. I went to Lucien a couple of months ago when Balthazar, my usual late night standby, was unaccountably full. It was my first time there, and it was a weeknight. We had fois gras, some kind of salad, and a duck breast/confit dish ... all pretty good and not too expensive. Washed it down with an inexpensive cotes du rhone. I enjoyed it and thought I would probably go back. It was not fancy high-end food, but it was good, hearty bistro food, competently prepared. Nice East Village atmosphere too.

        1. i went about 3-weeks ago and it was pretty bad all around. fish soup was bland while being overly fishy, escargot required much salt to give it some flavor, and duck was overcooked. you can tell a lot about a french restaurant by the quality of the bread, and there's was also comparable to supermarket fare.

          try joules nearby. though i haven't been in a while so perhaps it too has gone downhill.

          1. imo, the quality of jules has always ranged from mediocore to poor, and the atmosphere is pretty generic.

            1. I went to Lucien once, about a year ago, and was very unimpressed. The only thing I remember specifically about it was the cheese plate that consisted of what seemed to be domestic colby, swiss, and various cheeses of the same ilk. I was aghast.

              1. I loved Lucien and went quite often, but, as of late, it has consistently proven to be bad, bad, bad. If I go to a place I really like, and it's a bit off, I will give it a few other visits, as the cooking staff could be having a bad day, as well as the wait staff. Also, there are a myriad of problems that could arise with their purveyors. I have given Lucien too many tries--the steak frites I had recently were some of the worst I have ever had--the beef was grey and tasteless, the fries were cold and limp. When a bistro screws up such a basic speciality, I will never return, nor would I recommend it. Tragic, because at one time, Lucien was a special place that I would freely recommend.

                1. Flea Market and L'Epicerie/Cafe Charbon (same owners) are both better.

                  1. just to say upfront, in general, i only care about the food. i don't care about atmosphere or service.

                    i went here last month...i lived in paris and the south of france, and the food here isn't anything like it. while a decent french bistro, it's way too expensive for the quality of food. it's standard bistro fare, but i think jules in the e. village is a much better value. jules isn't perfect but at least when you order coq au vin you know what you're getting. if you really want great bistro food at cheaper prices, try sweetwater in williamsburg, which hands down blows this place away for quality of food.

                    the escargot was bland. the frisee salad was ok; although the lardon was the correct size and consistency (fat little pieces, chewy and crispy), there was too much creamy dressing. the piece de resistance, however, was the duck confit. the duck leg itself was cooked perfectly: moist. however, there was some pieces of dark red medallions of mystery meat that was placed around the leg, which was cold (i guess it was dark duck meat). the bed of spinach under the duck was too bitter (which tells me it wasn't boiled long enough); and the sauce for the duck was too sweet (it had some indian/mediterranean spices, like maybe cardamom, cumin) and didn't work with the dish. I didn't eat all of the dish, hoping to save my appetite and hoping that the dessert would redeem the meal. nope. the crust on the apple tarte was very soggy and not even close to the level of apple tarte i had back in villefranche-sur-mer. the faugere wine we ordered was decent ($40). i'm never coming here again. it's just not worth it to spend $75/person for a place like this. there are too many other places with better food in nyc.