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Curious About Lucques For Post-Theater Dining

I'm taking my wife to a Saturday matinee of "Wicked" at the end of July for her birthday. After the show looks like as good a time as any to finally try out Susan Goin's restaurant Lucques, which is just four miles from the Pantages Theater. Neither of us has been to Lucques. I'd love to hear about other people's experiences and opinions. How far in advance do you recommend reserving? I'm also keeping my options open, so if anyone has another recommendation beside Lucques that's near the theater, I'm all ears.

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  1. I recommend reserving right away, as Lucques tends to fill up. I love Chef Suzanne Goin's Mediterranean style, though I personally prefer the wine bar atmosphere of AOC over Lucques. That being said, I think Lucques is a fantastic destination.

    Keep in mind that while it's 4 miles in distance, it's 4 miles over some of the heaviest travelled surface streets in the city, so plan your reservation time accordingly. I suggest making the drive one Saturday just to gauge it.

    A wee bit closer and of the same quality as Lucques is Chef Michael Cimarusti's restaurant Providence. Both are considered among the top restaurants in the city so you're not going to be disappointed at either.

    Also nearby is Chef Josef Centeno's restaurant Opus, which was recently featured in a Jonathan Gold article in LA Weekly.


    1 Reply
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      SS is right about the traffic. If you take the wrong route, it will take you a long time to get there.

      I live near the Pantages and it took me about 20 minutes for a 6:30 reservation. I took Fountain to La Cienega, then left onto Melrose. The whole route moves pretty well and it puts you on the correct side of Melrose.

    2. Thank you, SS. AOC is certainly another option. I get a bit overwhelmed at the whole "small plates" concept, though. What to order/how much to order - I end up wanting to literally have my cake and eat it too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: OCKevin

        I hear ya; I'm the type of person that often dines solo and *still* orders two apps and an entree. Needless to say, my fridge is chock full of styrofoam containers and to-go bags. Maybe that's why I like the small plates concept as it allows me to order by my usual buckshot approach.

      2. Go to Lucques. As long as you are prepared for a $$$ bill, I'm sure you'll love it. :) I've only been to Sunday Suppers there ($40 prix fixe) and have been blown away each time. I'd love to try their regular menu sometime.

        Melrose from Hollywood is usually a pretty straight shot notwithstanding some clogging in the shopping area. I bet you could get there in 10-15 minutes from the theater. (Just don't take Sunset or Santa Monica.)

        5 Replies
        1. re: QualityMart

          My husband and I had dinner at Lucques friday night and it was amazing. That restaurant never disappoints. Top notch ingredients and service.
          I started with an amazing cherry tomato and kumquat salad with greek yogurt. It was one of the best salads I have ever had. For my entree I had the seared duck breast. It was also fabulous. My husband had the bibb lettuce salad and the halibut, which he said was outstanding as well. We ended with the beignets.
          It was a great dinner but I agree that Lucques is expensive. Dinner for the 2 of us, 2 apps, 2 entrees, 1 dessert and a nice bottle of wine, plus tip, was a little over $300.

          1. re: venicefoodie

            [Clutches his heart and sways backward a la Fred Sanford] - that is quite a steap pricetag! Perhaps I should call and find out if there's a corkage policy, instead. My wife and I usually end up getting wine by the glass. Coming from "the OC" it's usually a better way to go when you have to drive about an hour back home.

            1. re: OCKevin

              We were being kind of extravagent with our meal. Not ordering a bottle of wine will bring the meal down considerably. I think the wine set us back $100.
              It was worth it though. We had a great evening, great food, and great conversation.

              1. re: OCKevin

                Corkage is $16.

                I had a delightful dinner there last Monday. Try and sit outside. It's very pleasant on a warm evening.

                The lamb tartare appetizer is a winner.

                The shortribs, chicken and veal cheeks were outstanding. The duck special...not so much.

                The dessert with pistachio is also very good. The cheese plate is so-so.

              2. re: venicefoodie

                I love the salads at Lucques -- the fattosh is delicious and last fall I had a salad with lentils that was perfect.

            2. Thanks for the feedback! Anyone have any recommendations on what to order? Irene Virbella emphasized the suckling pig and albacore in her review, but the menu has undoubtedly changed several times since then.

              2 Replies
              1. re: OCKevin

                They have nice shortribs and I have never missed with any type of fish there.. If you are comming after the panatges they serve a bar menu after 9 or 10 pm. I think look at their web site www.lucques.com Great steak frite for around $17 at the bar only.. mmm good

                1. re: OCKevin

                  The suckling pig and shortribs are the classic Lucques dishes. I enjoyed the former very much -- in fact, when I made the reservation, I asked if it would be on the menu and was told yes. But when I arrived at the restaurant, it wasn't listed -- not to fear -- they'd actually held a portion back just for me.

                2. You made a very good choice - just make sure you have reservations made well in advance. As to seating, try for the patio, especially after a matinee, when your reservation might be at 6-6:30. It is much less noisy than inside. I recommend inside during winter with the fireplace, etc., outside during summer.
                  Go with what you really feel like eating. But, remember, it will be a Saturday night, the worst night of the week to eat in most really popular restaurants, as they are most busy, and all of the out of town visitors are there, yourselves among them, so be patient, ask the sommelier for a wine recommendation at your choice of price points if you are not that privy, and just enjoy the evening.
                  They are still among the best in town, period!

                  1. We had dinner there last Saturday and had a wonderful time. We scored a table in the outside courtyard, which was definitely the way to go on a warm evening. The service was by and large professional and efficient. I could quibble about the fact that our server disappeared after dessert and we had to flag down the manager to get our check, but by the time we were done, the place was packed and obviously really busy.

                    We had for starters the lamb tartare with a fava bean puree and the cherry tomato and kumquat salad. One had savory, earthy flavors; while the other, the salad, was deliciously tangy. For our mains, my wife had the duck breast w/ gnocci and squash blossoms - delicious with the added seasonal flavor of the roasted apricots. I had the wonderfully tender veal cheeks (no knife needed) on a bed of risotto and black truffle butter. I half-expected the dish to be heavy and strong, but I found the flavors to be balanced and subtle, not heavy or over-the-top at all. Desserts were also a bit hit with us. The huckleberry beignets, warm and soft and dusted in sugar, melted in my mouth. My wife had apricot tart which tasted like a sugar cloud.

                    Alas, after I inquired with the waiter, I found out that Ms. Goin was not in the kitchen that evening. Also, the restaurant is surprisingly a little more casual than I had anticipated. I think I'd call it "casual/stylish." The restaurant also did not have a sommelier that night (I assume co-owner Caroline Stine would usually be the one going table-to-table, but she wasn't around either). Regardless, we didn't feel deprived in the slightest. It was a great experience and we're looking forward to a return visit. (BTW, I had to refresh myself on a couple of the accompaniments to the dishes we and consulted the website, which has what appears to be the restaurant's most updated menu: www.lucques.com).

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: OCKevin

                      thats why I choose to bring my own wine there.. decanting is a bit of a let down as well, but the food oh so good ( whom is the guy who says that? )

                      1. re: OCKevin

                        Chef Goin is busy taking care of the twins at the moment.

                        1. re: SauceSupreme

                          I love Lucques. I just want to qualify for you what is meant by the "patio" just in case you don't already know. It is not a patio on the street rather it is in the back of the restaurant and is surrounded by 20ft(?) walls which makes is very nice and cozy. I really like Providence as well but given the choice, I think I would pick Lucques.

                          1. re: Fru

                            Right, Fru, it's in the back. I think I said it was table in the courtyard, as opposed to the patio - but, I agree, it was a very popular place to dine.

                            1. re: OCKevin

                              I'm now guilty of what I accuse other people of-not reading and, to top it off, you are the one who asked for the recommendation in the first place! Please pardon my faux pas but I'm glad that you both enjoyed.