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AOC vs. Lucques

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Definitely want to eat at one of these during my week in LA. Thoughts on one over the other? I don't find any recent head-to-head discussion.

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  1. Well, AOC is more of a small bites concept, whereas Lucques is largely the traditional appetizer, entree and dessert style of menu. Both have good wine selections.
    Do you want to experiment with more varieties of flavors, yet not large quantities of any, or would you prefer the usual dinner arrangement, a la Lucques?
    www.aocwinebar.com
    www.lucques.com
    Take a look on the websites and see which has more appeal. As to AOC, better get reservations asap unless you just want to drop in and sit at either the cheese or the wine bar.
    The food and ambiance are very good at both.

    2 Replies
    1. re: carter

      If you don't sit at the cheese or wine bar, and you get a reservation, book for the rooftop patio. It's cozy and comfortable (heaters in case it's cold), and a LOT more quiet than the main restaurant. I have found the main restaurant to be too noisy for my comfort. The food is wonderful. Enjoy.

      1. re: purplescout

        Agree about AOC's main dining room. It can be very loud. Room off the main dining room is better as well as the areas upstairs - both the rooftop patio and the 4 to 5 tables inside.

    2. I'm not sure either is a must with what you have in the Bay Area. But choosing one, unless you absolutely need a sitdown traditional dinner, I'd say AOC. And you DO want to sit at the cheese or wine bar, unless you have too large a party.

      1. there isn't any "head-to-head" per se because while both destination restaurants in LA, they're entirely different. AOC is a wine bar with small plates; Lucques much more standard with great fare. I'd hit up Lucques for Sunday Supper if I were here on Sunday. AOC is especially great if you enjoy eating small plates, want to share with companions, and/or like good wine. also do you have an atmosphere presence?

        1. Every thread and choice gets expanded: Now that Emme has mentioned Lucques' Sunday supper, I'm reminded of grilled cheese night at Campanile. I've enjoyed Campanile more than Lucques, and I think part is due to my tastes and part is due to the room -- I prefer the high campanile, the brightness, the energy and the open kitchen.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            I haven't had it, but the grilled cheese at Lucques is supposedly amazing. I've been meaning to drop by at the bar one day and order it there...

            1. re: QualityMart

              The grilled cheese night is at Campanile, on Thursdays I believe. I recall it was started by Nancy Silverton, who would man the sandwich presses. I doubt she does so consistently anymore, especially because of her involvement with Pizzeria Mozza and the Osteria too.

              1. re: nosh

                Mark mans the presses at Campanile now--he probably got custody of them in the divorce.

                1. re: nosh

                  I know about grilled cheese night at Campanile. But that's not what I'm referring to. Lucques has grilled cheese (and a few other entrees as well) on their bar menu, available every night except Sunday after 9:30 pm or 10pm on Fri/Sat.

            2. Small plates and tradtional courses both work fine for me. Outside of that, the food's generally similar in style, right? If so, I think maybe I'll go for AOC on the basis of price.

              Sunday at Lucques looks a lot like Monday at Chez Panisse. Not that that's a bad thing.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Similar in style? Errrm .. I guess. Maybe a little bit. The influence of the chef does have a certain consistency. But there isn't much overlap in terms of what you'd eat.

                I don't think there's a ton of difference in price. The plates at AOC are small and you can easily spend $50/person on food alone, similar to an expensive entree.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Robert,
                  Welcome to LA! I read your posts on the SF board all the time and enjoy your posts. I would say without a doubt AOC...I just think the food is a bit more refined, not fancy but very clean and a step up. Someone mentioned the rooftop but I would recommend trying to get a table in the room that is just off the main room. There are about eight tables, it is so much nicer in there, you can hear the "buzz" in the other room but you are not in the middle of it.

                  1. re: bubbles4me

                    Another vote for AOC.

                2. we love AOC. My husband and I often walk in early on Saturday evening, when they open at 5:30, and sit at the cheese bar. We have always had excellent food, and wonderful service. We have small kids and it is hard to make plans in advance but if we are in the neighborhood, it is our first choice. We haven't been to Lucques in quite some time because we love the variety and the small plates and interesting wines at AOC.

                  1. Robert,

                    In terms of a special meal, I really think its no contest...Lucques. In SF you have dozens of small plate options better than the AOC. It was extremely overwhelming and if you read the boards its one of the most heatedly debated restaurants in town.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ElJeffe

                      Lucques still stands as on of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. Sure there are more extravagant places to eat (Melisse, Bastide), but for pure comfort and Suzanne's rustic and elegant approach with sprinkles of Mediterranean and Asian influence, it's almost impossible to beat Lucques. AOC is great as well, but Lucques has a charm that is unparalleled and a menu to die for.

                      R. Jason Coulston

                      1. re: Jason_Coulston

                        IMHO, lucques is a gem in LA partly b/c it really doesn't have that much to compete with. if lucques were to exist in SF it would have great competition b/c SF practically specializes in mid priced restaurants with quality food which LA could use more of. if lucques sunday supper were compared with chez panisse's monday nights, chez panisse would most likely win. not to take anything away from lucques b/c it's still a great restaurant. in the same vein perhaps the same can be said for AOC...

                        1. re: trolley

                          Lucques isn't mid-priced by SF standards. I get sticker shock looking at the appetizer and entree prices.

                          AOC's prices, in contrast, seem right in line with those at Bay Area counterparts such as À Côté.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            i was thinking mid price compared to restaurants like gary danko, fifth floor, farallon etc. i honestly haven't eaten in the bay area since last year at bacar and perhaps i'm off on prices. if lucques is in the same price range as gary danko then there really is no comparison. yes, i like the A cote comaprison to AOC.

                            1. re: trolley

                              In SF, when a restaurant wants to charge more than around $25 for entrees (excluding steak), the usual practice is to switch to some sort of prix fixe. E.g. at Gary Danko the cheapest of four options is $65 for three courses, comparable to Lucques if you were to order some of the more expensive items.

                    2. How do the wine lists and particularly wine by the glass compare? Annoying that they don't put that on the Web sites.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        AOC, by name alone really, is a bit more specialized when it comes to the wine program. Not that Lucques has a lazy or unthoughtful wine list, but AOC has a far more fleshed out by the glass program. You can drink your way through a good selection of old and new world wines by the glass, ranging from affordable drinkers through rare pours from cult producers like Araujo.

                        R. Jason Coulston

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I think you should stick with AOC. Especially if you're more intererested in wine by the glass. I'd warn you though not to expect AOC to be cheap. The little plates and wine do add up fast and wil probably end up $70-$100 pp depending on how many glasses of wine you want to explore.

                          Overall, I liked AOC better than Lucques. The brand of cal-cuisine at AOC and Lucques is distinctly different from places in SF. A little heavier actually.

                          Lucques was good but 1) it was much too dark and I couldn't visually enjoy my food 2) I'd take Nopa or CP over Lucques any day for sheer tastiness.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Agree with Porthos. When I thought of what to advise you coming down from the Bay Area, my comparisons were things not offered or done better at Zuni or the upstairs at Chez Panisse.

                            1. re: nosh

                              I had dessert at AOC a few years and liked it enough that I wanted to go back. But after this feedback it doesn't seem like a high priority.

                        2. For what it's worth, I like AOC better, but I can't say that either makes me want to go back in any kind of a hurry.

                          Went to Lucques for lunch last June. The service was the most non-caring I've seen at a better dining establishment. First the food was unremarkable, and the special that day wasn't really a special (they have steak frites on the lunch menu, and the special was steak sandwich, with fries, go figure). Then the staff did something I've never seen at a fine dining restaurant - he collected the crumbs from the table with the brush, then he proceed to dump them onto the floor! For dessert they had persian mulberries, which were great, but they just dump a messy glob of whipped cream on top. The presentation was better at an IHOP. Anyway, I hope when the owner is in the kitchen the staff won't slack off as much as during the lunch, but I was not impressed enough to go back.

                          I like AOC better. We sat at the main dining room, near the front door and I didn't notice too much noise (it's quiet by comparison to Mozza - bring earplugs). 1/3 of the dishes were out of ballpark good, 1/3 were OK, and 1/3 were pretty terrible. Depends on what you are used to. Some people raved about the black ink risotto, but I found the flavors to be a pale imitation to the ones I had in Venice and Dubrovnik. Anyway, the price is high because the portions are tiny. I think the clams with vermouth, nettle has about 10 little pieces of clams, and it was like $15? Fried oysters that we had were good, but a dish is like 3 pieces. If you have a hearty appetite you can easily spend $50pp with wine and still walk out not feeling full.

                          1. Lucques lucques lucques! I've never been to AOC, but the one experience in Lucques was magnificent. It was mid-day lunch but what gourmet! Each dish was as savory as could be! The wines by the glass were amazing too... I like the patio seating. It seems "at home" friendly, but then you get the best meal...