Pucques, Lucques, I really meant to say Pucques, dam Lucques
It's long and there are typo land-mines but I've no time for rewrites, sorry and good luck
James Beard apparently didn't go to the Sunday Supper I did. Well I'm sure the PR agent Lucques hired didn't take the James Beard Foundations judging panel there on a sunday at all.
Several months ago when we where all scratching our cell phones to get a table at the Hungry Cat I didn't and went to Lucques. Reservations made I called a friend and asked if she'd like to go, "Your kidding Lucques on a Sunday? you didn't make reservations yet did you". I convinced her to go anyway, and to drive, if the meal was going to be bad and I was paying for both of us I wasn't going to pay for gas. Still I wanted to believe that despite the apparent common knowledge that a Sunday Supper at Lucques was on par with an "all you can eat supper" at Sizzler something would stand out. Well they have a great interior decorator. Well its decorated. Well the pictures look really great on the web site.
1. I've been to fine French restaurants, yes in France. I've even eaten a quiche prepared by an aging French grandmother who grew up on a farm, raised cows, had a pig, and pet chickens and milked, killed, and collected to turn them all into that quiche. Let me tell you it was great.
2. Forgive me for being one of those who will say that food in San Francisco is good and food in Los Angeles is food. The truth is there are some really great places in Los Angeles to eat and in San Francisco there are many, many more. I'm not astonished it's understandable. San Francisco is surrounded by farms, that produce some of the best wines and food products in the state and Los Angeles is surrounded by an ocean steeping in medical wast on one side and the Valley on the other. These great San Francisco restaurants take inspiration from French and world cooking traditions, and have made them something great, something that is there own. I've gone to San Francisco walked on foot for one or two hours and passed several restaurants that have there own cook books, not one or two, try at least 10. (Tartine's cook book at The Cooks Library)
3. I've been to Lucques, and they do a fairly good job at ripping off something you'd find in San Francisco. Even the waiter didn't have to be attractive. They went for Frenchie style grandpa with additional beard at no charge, no weight I'm looking at the receipt there was a charge.
Ok, I have no problem with Grandpa and your not going to ever hear me ask for Freedom fries and Sacrifice de le sang de the troops dipping sauce. Its just that most fine dinners I've run into in LA care more about whatever Dodd Mitchell is working on next than who will be cooking the food "My god l love this fur curtain, and there's going to be food, this is too much". (I was trying to remember if Mitchell had ever hung an animal carcass from the rafters but I don't know if that was him, but it could be, the fur curtain is for sure). The reality is that Lucques Sunday Supper was all the same. I know that the food is good on the weekdays, but what is so appealing about the sunday supper is its price. Its like gourmet out reach, well not really you still have to drop a little money and if you want wine you might as well consider yourself half screwed. Anyway your supposed to get this great Lucques meal in this very French fixed menu night environment. I didn't I got cornbread with greens, tough meat with bland sauce, and the dessert, ha.
Banana bread, and I cant even remember what they tried to call it as to pass it off as a plated dessert (note, it takes more than a plate to make it plated). The bottom of my little banana round was burned, no burned not caramelized. There was some horrible twill cookie and a scoop of butter milk ice cream. Yes butter milk ice cream, no actually just frozen churned buttermilk, no sugar nothing else just butter milk. Bake with buttermilk all day long, great choice over milk, just don't freeze it and tell me its ice cream. OOOh and if you do don't give me a scoop the size of a walnut to try to redeem your dry, burnt banana brick.
I did make it to the Hungry Cat recently, I had the burger and as a salt lover I could only get through half, but still good and the drink specials where great. I don't know what I was getting tossed on but it was red/black and had some herb floating in it.
I must say the Hungry Cat is every thing Lucques Sunday Supper is not. Approachable, fun, sexy, and more of a Portland/New York rip off, well the Portland you don't see in movies and the New York you only see in movies, well I don't think you ever see Portland in movies. It's still a rip but its a great one, I have to say it feels like less of a rip than bringing something warm and city like to Los Angeles. So GO to the Hungry Cat this sunday and save Lucques for the weekdays or just go back to the Cat.
wow a little harsh but sooOOO TRUE... because i am the friend "baker" is referring to. i don't even want to comment any further about Lucques in Weho.
okay i've changed my mind.. the dessert that night was horrific! after a so-so meal i was hoping that the dessert would make up for it, but unfortunately we were even more disappointed. a "banana cake" which tasted like a banana quick bread of some sort topped with a really crunchy cookie (it wasn't a tuile cookie)and the buttermilk ice cream, yuck! to add to that the plate was splattered with caramel sauce and nuts (are you kidding me?!) as traditional as creme anglaise is.. it sooo needed some sort of sauce, any sauce, enough sauce for each bite of the cake to absorb into the thick and dry brick they called a banana cake.
so go to the Hungry Cat and have they're lobster roll.. a little pricey.. but it's good :) oh they also have great martinis
the one time i went to lucques everything was oily/greasy.
it's ok for ONE thing to be very rich, but EVERYTHING was glistening with oil/grease.
at some point it all just melted into sameness . . . .
I've had many excellent meals at Lucques -- fresh ingredients, thoughtfully prepared, good service, pleasant environment. Of course, my pallete might just lack the sophistication that comes from travels to France and San Francisco.
If it becomes a member of your "Must Miss" list, you are missing one of the better restaurants in LA.
Don't forget, this was a Sunday supper menu, not the regular menu.
Every experience I have ever had there or at their sister operation AOC has been wonderful, from food quality to service to value. Occasionally, seating can be a bit cozy at Lucques and that is generally why I opt for the patio, where it is more spacious.
Do try it and judge for yourself. It has been season-tested and passes muster every year, even though your mileage may vary can still be one person's opinion.
i've been to lucques on nights other than sunday + also found it to be not so great. what i will say is that the produce here is still quite great. according to this logic the food in nyc would be terrible (as it is mostly shipped) but in fact sometimes this isn't the case.
my feeling is that if we want to talk about hype we ought to talk about the wineries in napa and the corporate food environment there.
that said, i've had many decent meals in france. but can't call it the culinary center of the world
certainly better french food there than here in LA but
this city has other excellent cuisines.
I loved your post, baker. I get into such trouble for saying negative things about Lucques, Sona, Providence, Water Grill, and Patina. I can't spend money at any of these places, even if I'm being treated. I'm finished with them. I'm not sure why there aren't more passionate chefs and intimate/interesting restaurants in Los Angeles. I do like Hungry Cat quite a lot, and one of the biggest thing it has going for it is its scale. All of these other restaurants are too big and their sights are on other things besides the food.
Sara, I know where you are going with your comments, yet cannot imagine your thinking that Lucques is too big or out of scale, your choice of term. Not caring for the food is another matter.
But keep in mind that just because you can cook, doing so in a small facility anywhere does not yield a profitable operation, unless the place gets very high prices, and SFO has similar issues to deal with, and most of their quality and successful dining establishments are also fairly large in scale.
I have been to Lucques dozens of times in the last several years (for regular nights, Sunday Suppers, Cassoulet Night, Boxing Day Night), and have been rewarded with a great meal each time. Some nights were stronger than others, but all nights were lovely.
Please do not let this one experience put Lucques on your must-miss-list. I'm not sure what the OP was expecting. From what I could gather from the posting, he/she was expecting food on a par with a 3-star French restaurant, served in a setting as comfortable as a French grandmother's farm with non-bearded Anglo waiters. While such a place sounds fine (I'd certainly give it a try), it is not Lucques. Instead, Lucques is a wonderful Los Angeles restaurant that serves delicious Mediterranean inspired cuisine using fresh ingredients from local producers (last time I checked, McGrath farms, a primary Lucques purveor, does not grow its produce in an ocean of medical waste) in a comfortable setting. Anyone who has even bothered to spend a couple of minutes chatting with Carolyn Stein or Jessica Goin, the two front house managers, would quickly see that they are concerned with service, hospitality, and comfort and not fur curtains.
The upshot - this is one post. Judge Lucques for yourself.
My one experience at Lucques was OK, I'm in no hurry to go back but I did like my 3 visits to AOC so far. As far as SF being "surrounded by farms," well I have seen suburbs surrounding SF just like you find in LA
Been living and eating in LA for a lot of years and I must say that baker nails the board for overhype of certain places.
I may eat there at least once more when the seasonal menu appeals but really, there's so much more than Beverly Blvd. to this town. Starting with the enchiladas and birria at El Metate this weekend. 3 of us ate for less than what Goin charges one person for her 'downhome' Sunday supper and it was sublime.
agree with ernie that AOC is a better place.
as for meditteranean, i can think of many places i'd rather eat than lucques. tried it enough times to know that i can do much better either by staying home or going elsewhere
wow, i'm not surprised you didn't like lucques if you're used to having quiche made out of freshly slaughtered chickens.
and you really prove your lack of the pretentiousness that possesses us angelinos by complaining about the look of the waiter. nice fat joke there. no shallow angelino you!
i've been going to lucques for years and have yet to have a bad meal. i've eaten at restaurants throughout san francisco, new york, italy and all over the world. i'm no provincial hack like you make us out to be. i like lucques. the food is creative, fresh and nicely presented. could be a little less expensive, but your precious SF and NY restaurants got nuthin on that.
as for hungry cat, i find it a bit of a scene. but maybe your waiter was thin so you overlooked it.
you want to hate on a restaurant? fine. but don't rag on the people that eat in this town. we have as good (i would argue most have better) taste as you.
I love personal voice and stream of concsiousness writing as much as the next person, but baker's post gave me a headache somewhere around "i wasn't going to pay for gas." So the gist is that Lucques wasn't good on a busy Sunday night? I've eaten a few times at Lucques, a lovely lunch, dessert and drinks, dinner another time. All three times, the food was very good. Higher quality than the majority of restaurants in LA. I think A.O.C. is good. I think Hungry Cat is OK, but truth be told, I ate there within the first week and havent' been back since; but I mean to. Any three of those restaurants, especially Lucques, warrants a 'must miss' list to me. And to anyone who will put any restaurant on that list just by the rants of another and not by trying on their own time and dime, isn't interested in dining. Just mho. Good night and good luck.
I could have sworn I put a comment up here about two hours ago, but it doesn't appear to have been posted. Mostly I want to say that if you judge a restaurant by the handsomeness of its waiters, you should be ashamed of yourself. And, Lucques is utterly fabulous, one of the best in L.A. And, what's with the ragging on L.A.? We have excellent produce here, and Suzanne Goin makes careful use of it. Sorry you had a bad meal, and I don't doubt it was bad, but it is atypical. This is a great restaurant.