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Less than impressed with Lucques

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For two years I've sat on a gift certificate to Lucques some old bosses had given to me, waiting for a date worthy of treating (I couldn't see see blowing a classy restaurant on a one night stand--"I forget your last name but totally think you're worth a 120 buck meal" seemed like a waste). Finally admitting defeat in my lackluster love life, I took a couple of friends this past Saturday for lunch. Alas, it did not live up to the hype.

Friend-girl and I ended up getting the same dishes. (Oh, the bread was deelish, but good bread does not a great restaurant make.) Right, so we each started with the carrot-cardamon soup. I used to make something similar--carrots, ginger, cardamon pods, chicken stock. Lucques' was not convincibly better. It did not scream carrot, but more mentioned it in passing. Sure, it had swirls of olive oil in it, and some sort of crouton, but on the whole, was just fine.

Friend-girl and I then had the orecchiette carbonara with peas, green garlic and pea shoots. I was especially excited for this dish as I thought it would emblify SPRING. Nope. Not noticeably better than a similar stir-fry at a college cafeteria. The peas were not breathtakingly fresh, the green garlic was forgettable, and the carbonara lacked both cheese and egg. Lucques has the rep for being market-fresh, and it seemed their market was Albertson's.

Other friend had fish. Cute little cauliflower with fractals were involved, but he said it was nothing special.

Admittedly, one of our desserts was fantastic--a creme fraiche semifreddo with fresh strawberries and honey. Strawberries were perfect. Semifreddo was sweet but nuanced with tang. Honey was honey. Other dessert was not memorable.

Only I ended up ordering wine--a glass of highly drinkable rose. Rose should be the official wine of Lunch, especially afternoon lunches in the sun. This one was fit the bill, but no great hurrah.

Total bill, with tip, came to $135 for three. Worth close to 80, or less. Given my lack of funds, and plethora of other lauded classy restaurants (not to mention fun cheap ethnic joints), I am unlikely to go back.

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  1. Oh my! So it has gone downhill. Wouldn't know b/c we haven't been back in 5 years. We used to LOVE it, and everything we ordered was exceptional, but one night we had a party of 6 and my DH and our guests were dissed by the waitress. And then the manager/hostess came by and basically backed up her waitress, instead of making it right to customers paying over $400 for a meal. So now I refuse to go back, and let everyone I know re: boards like this. Their bad for forgetting the customer is always right.

    Suzanne is way too busy now with her new spot in Brentwood. So who knows who is at the helm in the kitchen at Lucques now.

    1. it's been many years since i've been there, but when my new york-based eating friend and i tried it, EVERY single moresel in every one of our dishes was coated in oil/butter/grease.
      it isn't that we don't like oil/butter/grease, but half way into the meal we were bored with so much of it on EVERYTHING. . .

      as i recall even the nuts that were served were coated--every single thing was coated, there was no letup.

      we never went back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: westsidegal

        agree about LUCQUES hvy hand w/ the oil/butter,
        me no like that cooking approach on so many offerings.

      2. My takeaway from this review is that it really makes a big difference who you eat with. Better luck next time.

        1. So where is this cafeteria that serves susan goin type food? I'd really like to go there and save a few dollars. So was it that bad or was it just underwhelming? I always find her food very simple but fresh and seasonal. it can be underwhelming at times b/c it can be too simple and i think people expect more complex use of ingredients at her price point. oh, well! At least you didn't pay for the entire meal :D

          2 Replies
          1. re: trolley

            Trolley, your post was what I was hoping for, the sort of market-fresh, seasonal ingredients that aren't extravagantly gussied up or fiddled with. For the money I was paying, the carrots should've been the epitome of carrotness, the peas should've screamed fresh-from-the-vine, and I should at least be able to remember the chocolate dessert. Instead, it was as you said, underwhelming. I could've done the same after a trip to Ralph's, and my carbonara would've included egg and cheese. But, perhaps I'll splurge in the late summer, go to Lucques and see how she treats tomatoes.

            1. re: Rosiepigs

              the last restaurant that really wowed me with their vegetables was gjelina.

              for my money, i'd go to gjelina for vegetables before returning to lucques.

          2. Lucques never blew me away. The menu can be a bit boring. Its been years but I found A.O.C. to be a lot more fun.