Review: Luce. Portland, OR.

Rolling up to Luce the week after Bon Appetit named it a top 10 restaurant in america last month, I was fully prepared to bombarded by a hipster apocalypse. To my surprise the crowd was surpisingly, even hilariously, geriatric (it was right at 5 afterall, who else eats that early?). The patrons were quite aware of the recent accolades garned by the restaurant. One older gentleman went so far as to read the BA the article to his wife in complete AD Club Sauce style. Hilarious.

The restaurant is really small and I arrived expecting a 3hr wait. It turned out to only be 45mins-1hr before I was sat, so that was nice. The meal however, took forever. About 3 hours in total. (That’s a 4 hour dinner experience folks, 4 HOURS! Ain’t Nobody got time for that)

The staff was super friendly, so I hate to say anything negative about the experience. But it’s not like they’re  hurting for praise these days. So let’s, as they say, keep it real.

The antipasti and charcuterie came out first. The charcuterie was absolutely nothing special. Let’s get that out the way. Out of the antipasti, the clams were really good. The potato salad was okay and the mozzarella with anchovies were not good.

The Salt Foccacia was good, but not as good as I expected it to be (I was really excited for this meal).

 For pasta, I got the spaghetti with hot peppers and clams. Since this recipe actually appears in the issue, I was expected a lot. Like a lot of the meal, it was just OK.

The hanger steak was definitely the best part of the meal in my opinion. This recipe appears in the magazine as well. The steak is cooked and served in a garlic rosemary olive oil. It was both simple and delicious.

I had a hazelnut chocolate cake for dessert, which I don’t have the photo of. It was good, definitely worth getting if you’re there.

Overall, I would say this is a good meal, but no way is it a top 10 new restaurant in america. Based on the comments of Andrew Knowlton I expected to be blown away by the quality of the ingredients and I just wasn’t. If you’re expecting to be wowed like I was, steer clear. If you want a simple, solid italian meal that takes 3-4hrs to get through, then give it a shot.

RATING: ***
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Review: Lucia. Dallas, TX.

Lucia
408 West 8th Street
Dallas, TX 75208

For the food-loving contingent of the greater DFW area, Lucia is legend. The story of its creation is the sort of proverbial fairytale that those of us who romanticize about owning our restaurant (I include myself in that group, even though I have no training, experience or knowledge for that matter and should know better) latch on to and tell all of our friends about. A husband and wife team? He cooks? She runs front of house? What an amazing set up!

That being said, I’m not the only one who loves this fairytale and desires to be a small part of it. Eating here can be difficult. Getting a reservation requires about a month of preparation. I actually booked mine about 2 months in advance, so going in this place had a lot to live up to.

The first thing we ordered was the obligatory salumi plate. David Uygur, the Chef/Owner/Husband, makes all the charcuterie himself. It’s known somewhat as his signature. Ours came with sorpressata, black pepper sausage, chicken liver crostini, duck pate and lardo.

While the charcuterie was good, having just had the charcuterie board at Toro Bravo a few days previously, I wasn’t blown away with it. Unfortunately that would be a microcosm the rest of the meal.

Next up were the pasta dishes.First, spaghetti with sea urchin butter was probably my favorite dish of the night. A great smooth tasting butter sauce and the flavor of the sea urchin really stood out. I could have done without the garlic bread crumbs on top, but it didn’t take too much away from the dish.

The other pasta dish was a potato gnocchi with texas tomatoes. This was very good and the tomatoes were fresh and amazing.

For entrees, we ordered druck breast with pickled cherries, lady cream peas and foie gras. Though I’m not a huge duck man, I thought this was really good. The cream peas with the foie gras were outstanding. Definitely not something you eat everyday.

The next entree (partly eaten above), was a slow roasted pork shoulder with polenta and coppolini onions. I thought the polenta was ok, but the pork was a real disappointment. The cut was full of so much gristle (an estimated 50%) that it was just not enjoyable. This dish is the main reason I would consider this meal 3 star, instead of 4. I understand that that is a slim margin for error, but with great praise comes great expectations.

Being a bit disappointed in the meal, we decided to not order dessert and instead cut our losses and enjoy a little walk in the Bishop Arts District.

Overall, I should mention that this meal was not a bad one. It was good in fact. The problem is that a meal that requires a 2 month reservation, and is praised by every notable food authority you can think of, is expected to be more than good. It’s expected to evoke sweeping emotions, to inspire you, to challenge preconcieved notions you had about food. It didn’t do any of those things for me, it was just a good meal. If the pork had been delicious, this would have been a 4 star meal in my mind, but still a disappointment of sorts.

All that being said, I am completely behind what the Uygurs are doing here. Dallas needs more restaurants with an undying dedication to quality. They seem to slave over every detail of the restaraunt from the wine list to every last ingredient. These are qualities you want in restaurants you spend your money at. Maybe if we had more, you wouldn’t have to try so hard to get a seat at Lucia.

RATING: ***
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