CLE: Lucky's Cafe Dinner
Not sure if the Hounds are aware, but Heather Haviland of Lucky's Cafe in Tremont is doing a dinner service once a month now, we went to our first one the other night, it was an Italian theme. They are trying to source a lot of products locally and I love their food for brunch so we were excited. It was a little expensive for us but very reasonably priced for normal people ($35 prix fixe per person), and it's BYOB since they are obviously a coffee shop, but we just stuck with water. We really, really enjoyed the dinner and it's such a nice, casual atmosphere, will definitely go back. Since we are going out for dinner very rarely these days, this was a nice splurge.
First course was a choice of a vegetable risotto topped with fried egg and a gnocchi on a bed of pea puree served with fresh green beans and mint. We got one of each of course, and traded samples. Both were very good though very mildly spiced, I would say the risotto could have used more salt and the carrots in it were a little underdone, but that's really nitpicky. The gnocchi were very light and the pea/green beans/mint combo was really interesting and tasty.
2nd course (no choices) was a small house-made Caesar. I normally do NOT like Caesar dressing because it's usually got an overpowdering garlic taste but this did not. It was served with a little bit of chopped egg, radish and tasty homemade croutons.
3rd course was choice of house-made pappardelle pasta bolognese or eggplant parm. We got one of each again so we could try both. The bolognese sauce was really very good, very enjoyable. The eggplant parm presentation was one of my favorites ever; I don't usally like this dish because it's gloppy and heavy and overly cheesy. But this was a little dish with sliced eggplant, lightly fried and topped with just a little bit of cheese and sauce, then served with a side of angel hair in marinara sauce with capers, which was very enjoyable and kept the dish light but very satisfying and not overly greasy.
Dessert was choice of tiramisu or homemade lemon "meringue" ice cream. I didn't care much for either, this was the only disappointment of the night but still they were fairly good. The tiramisu had a nice taste but presentation was really strange - a tall, spongy cake with a lot of the sweet cream glopped onto it rather unattractively, and difficult to cut with a fork. The white bits in the meringue made the ice cream visually unappealing and it wasn't that great in the taste department. The ice cream was served with 4 different flavors of little tiny cookies which were very good, if a bit underdone for my taste (soft in the middle).
All in all definitely would go to one of these dinners again, just wanted to let you all know about them since there were a lot of empty tables. You can sign up for their emails on their website or in a little book in the cafe.
I've been to two of her dinners. One at Lucky's and the other at Vine and Bean. Going forward, will they all be at the Tremont location? Both of my experiences were very positive. I only missed this last one because it conflicted with a dinner at the Natural History Museum that I had already decided to go to. Chef Small (Flying Fig) did a great job. I just wish she'd served some of her awesome bread. Incidentally, there's one more Museum benefit dinner this season. Chef Abramof (Sergio's, Sarava):
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next Lucky's dinner.
I'd also like to add that these dinners are a partnership between Chef Haviland and Chef Wong. I don't have any insight into their specific responsibilities but I'm sure he deserves a great deal of credit for their success.
I'm not as enthusiastic about the pastries at Lucky's as everyone else seems to be but the desserts at these dinners were very good, especially the pear tart pictured below. The pork crepes were a perfect dish - bacon+brussel sprouts? - and done very well. The beef ravioli were rich and delicious, even if the pasta itself could have had a little more bite and flavor.