I am still inquiring about various restos for our anniversary date. It seems Madeline and Lee
might not have the same exec chefs now which is too bad.
So another I would like to ask about is Lucien....is it still any good?
Thx folks! This is a great board to compare notes on.....
I liked Lucien when I went, but even in my own circle of friends reviews have been mixed (from very positive to negative). Also my visit was over a year a go now. It would appear to suffer from a consistency problem.
We went for Summerlicious in July. This is what I posted then:
Last weekend we walked in on Lucien. There were only 3 or 4 tables occupied and they seemed really happy to have some customers. Service that night was merely ok but the timing was fine. Complimentary brioche and soft butter was offered.
We ordered the pork belly appetizer which was the star of the night and probably the best pork belly dish we've had. It came with a velvety and fresh tasting pea puree which complemented the pork perfectly.
My starter of snapper "sashimi" was an interesting salad combination including fresh jalapeno, salmon roe, lima beans and olive oil. I enjoyed the taste and combination of ingredients though the fish was overwhelmed.
For mains we had the beef with grits. This dish was 3-4 thick slices of meat, a square of fried grits (prepared like polenta), some corn garnish and a chipotle bbq sauce. The only complaint was the grits were too salty and the portion could have been a touch bigger.
The other main was the fish. It came with a super smooth garlic mash (too salty), fried fingerlings, fresh pea shoots and truffle. The fish was a good size and the skin was nice and crispy though i might have preferred it a minute or two less cooked. (It wasn't dry and likely the doneness preference of most.)
For dessert the strawberry shortcake was a hard biscuit with cream in a strawberry soup with some macerated strawberry. Not too sweet and refreshing. The blackforest dessert was an ice cream bar topped with a few spoons of chocolate couscous and crumbled honeycomb (the taste was like a deconstructed Crunchy bar!) a flabby, tasteless and gelatinous cherry mousse was on the plate too.
Overall, we were pleased with dinner and felt it was worth the Summerlicious price of $45. If we had paid regular price for the meal, I think the service would have needed to be more professional and the seasonings to be better worked out.
Went to Lucien last week! Got some okay shots. The Black Hoof ones were better, but the lighting also wasn't as good at Lucien.
Unbeknownst to me, The Wine Bar shut down for gold-medal Sunday. So, wandering around the corner brought us to Lucien's doorstep instead. With its cred, I don't hear about this restaurant very often. Actually, to the point where this wasn't even on my radar. Though it's late and the kitchens are set to close, it's good to know that no one is snoozing back there.
French Onion Soup
With quotes included on the menu, the "French Onion Soup" consists of duck confit, slow roast onion, aged gouda, croutons. The chicken-based broth had such a good and intense flavour. There were chunks of foie gras and thinly sliced duck. Really quite a lovely melding of flavours.
Wild Mushroom And Sunchoke Flan
With organic spinach, black truffle and hazelnut pesto. While the sunchoke flan was reminiscent of a slightly more gelatinous tofu (albeit a really nice piece of tofu), it made for a really good vehicle to showcase the very tasty chanterelles and assorted mushrooms. A generous slice of black truffle sat on top (sadly, not very fragrant).
Ontario Harvest Beef Bourguignon
Couldn't resist getting the Ontario Harvest Beef Bourguignon. With wild mushrooms, cippolini onion, heirloom roots, baby chard. I didn't catch everything that was described, but the typical Bourguignon elements were actually individual puddings at the bottom of the plate. I quite enjoyed the carrot – really smooth and subtle. Lots of tender and well-flavoured beef chunks stewed in wine – a well-executed dish.
Ontario Red Deer
Having never tried this particular game meat, I ordered the Ontario Red Deer with puréed celeriac, wild rice puffs, granola foam and tuille. With the first bite, I was surprised at how delicate the taste of the deer was and I really enjoyed the tenderness and taste of the meat. The wild rice puffs, which I had thought extraneous at first, went really well with the dish. And the cranberry reduction around the plate added a traditional tang to it all. The celeriac purée, creamy and slightly sweet, made a nice substitute for the standard starch. Overall, I was really happy with this dish. Something new, lots of textures, and good flavours.
For dessert, I chose the chocolate complex, described as “a chocolate selection from around the globe”. From left to right: Madagascar (Cluizel), Italy (I didn't recognize the pattern - do you?), Dominican (traditional old-school chocolate-making process, SOMA), Ghana (?), Papua New Guinea (?). I love my dark chocolate and while interesting in presentation, I'd eaten at least two on the plate. So this was less discovery than I had hoped for.
For everyone else, it's a nice way to taste a variety of dark chocolates. As a note, some bars cost $6-$7, and trying five kinds on your own makes the $18 price tag a little more reasonable. I wished that they'd had more information for me to read about on the different chocolates – things like cocoa percentages, bean origin, maker, and the like.
What made this chocolate flight more fun were the accompaniments: rose pudding, cedar jelly, pink sea salt and balsamic vinegar & oil. Most interesting taste with the chocolate was the olive oil. Tastiest on its own was the rose pudding. The cedar was too subtle, and the sea salt too coarse and strong. Minor quibbles given it's the chocolate you're tasting.
I sort of wished that I had tried another dessert though, as their mains were quite interesting and the chocolate taster didn't showcase that creativity as much.
In summary: Good food. Not-so-good service. Expensive. Would I go back? Yes, but with reservations. They really need to up their service imo. Maybe it was because it was a slow Sunday or something, but service is a glaring anomaly between the food and cost.
36 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E1C7, CA
Today's TeamBuy is $20 for $40 worth of stuff from the bar menu at Lucien - http://www.teambuy.ca/index.php - only 3 hours to go, though.
I've had a tasting menu there before, it was pretty good, but in the area I would much rather go to George, Colborne Lane, or Canoe if I want to do a tasting.
I used to like Lucien a lot. But my last visit last week changed everything. It seemed as if the staff was diffident, the portions were meager and the cooking was average. It's a colossally expensive restaurant when you factor in the value of what you're getting. Every resto has a life cycle, and I'd say this one is on the downswing.
36 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E1C7, CA
Couldn't agree more. Huge rip-off...me and sig other each had a glass of wine and main course (no apps, no desserts) and it cost $120!!! Moreover, my ho-hum steak was literally 4 bites and the smear of black truffle was almost imperceptible. Which leads to another question...why is Toronto food so consistently meh and over-priced? I just came back from San Francisco/Napa and had the best rustic Italian at Barbacco, multiple tapas the size of entrees here with wine for under $100. At Angele, same price as Lucien had 3 courses and stellar service and delicious food. And Gary Danko's was $250 for 2 but they had amazing complimentary amuse bouches after almost every ordered dish...they even sent us off with a gift-wrapped yummy pastry for the next morning!
To concur with other posts here. Four of us had an indifferent and very expensive (Just under $500 incl. 2 btls but no desert) meal yesterday, 21stOct, and the owner said he had the new people in the kitchen.