Luka's. Slipping? Or just a couple of bad nights?
First off, Luka's is one of my favorite informal grub joints. When they're on, it's a great balance of food, crowd, attitude, and belgian beer. I hadn't been there in a few months and went twice in the last week. Both times were pretty disappointing.
The menu seems to have simplified considerably from moderately interesting cal to pretty stereotypically comfort. No more spaetzle with anything. Mac and cheese, a pork chop, a steak. The oysters with taquila slurpee spooned on top are a poor idea done poorly. The yellow beet salad is great but it's just a beet salad. Mac and cheese: dry. Steak: smothered in oversweet salty sauce. Fries: meh, plus with teensy amounts of aioli. Mussels: ok, nothing special. Bread no longer served by default and if you ask for it, you get a couple of day-or-two-old buds of acme pain epi.
We went on a Friday night last week and a Saturday this. Both times there was no problem walking in and getting a seat almost immediately. Since Saturday was virtual Halloween, it's not a surprise that business would be down, but Friday?
Plenty of seats at the bar too. While they seem to have hired a stunningly sculpted Vargas girl as a bartender, she kinda forgets to do the regular bartendering things like delivering drinks to customers. Although the bar isn't all that big, and was only about half populated, it was impossible to attract her attention away from her friend at the end of the bar. I eventually got the attention of the barback who also had no luck getting her back to work. He eventually stepped in to pour me a beer. Unfortunately, it was the wrong beer. At this point the bartender came out of her coma and was able to find the right bottle. As she was taking back the wrong beer, she asked me if I'd drank any of it (no) because if I hadn't she could re-serve it. It went to sit on the back shelf. Yuck.
Anyway, other recent experiences? I'm really hoping it's just a blip.
I was there almost exactly two months ago, so not too recently... Service was good, bread came promptly. It was packed (and noisy!) on a Monday night. I had spaetzle with pork something or other and it was quite good. Only complaint was that the pinball machine was broken. So, based on your experiences, maybe there has been a recent downward trend. I hope not.
I've had similar service problems where the server seems more interested in chatting with coworkers than actually working.. unless the place is completely packed. Then they rush around giving decent service in an obvious attempt to free up tables. Seeing it both at on- and off-times makes it feel more like a company than a friendly restaurant. Which is sad, considering how they were when they first opened.
It really does depend on the time and the day and the crowd. And it might get better once they have their wine bar open across the street.