The missus took me to Lucques for my birthday on Saturday. In the past, we've mostly celebrated this event at Campanile, and while I love Campanile, I have to say, Lucques was a nice change. The meal started with a dish of nicely cured green olives, fried almonds, and really nice french bread with wonderful butter. (Really, the butter they serve is noticeably delicious.) I ordered a salad of apples, radicchio, pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios with a fresh buttermilk dressing. A nice, bright dish with good flavor and texture. The missus had a salad of red and gold beets, fresh mint, goat cheese (I think) and citrus pieces, which was also very nice, but some of the stronger flavors overwhelmed the beets. (I love fresh beets, but I'm not sure about paring them with citrus.)
For the entree, I ordered the rib eye with caramelized onions, fresh greens and potatoes Parisian (basically mashed). The rib eye was really nicely flavored, not too lean, and was perfectly cooked medium rare. The steak also had that perfect smoky flavor of good meat right off of a hot hardwood fire. I really liked this dish -- the flavors were strong and vibrant -- but it was just a tad over salted for my taste. Not enough to spoil the dish or send back, but enough that it would have tasted better to me with just a little less salt. The mashed potatoes and greens were a nice compliment, but nothing extraordinary. The missus ordered the seared diver scallops appetizer as an entree, and they were stunningly good. Maybe the best scallops I've had. Perfectly cooked, tender, with a nice seared crust and great flavor. This dish alone was worth the price of admission.
For dessert, we shared a caramelized apple/brioche bread pudding with maple sugar ice cream which was excellent. The apples were caramelized with currents and just a little cinnamon, and the sauce was finished with a touch of rum, which, surprisingly (at least to me) complemented the other flavors of the dish perfectly. In my experience, this sort of bread pudding sometimes ends up tasting like french toast, but here, it was nicely rich with a perfect balance of flavors.
Service was attentive without being fussy, and I like the room and ambiance of this place. Their seating for couples is a little close, but not so bad that I wouldn't return. In fact, my only real complaint about the meal was that I ordered a cup of "jade green" tea to end, and like many places, the water they used to brew the tea was much too hot. The green tea ended up tasting a bit cooked. Why is it that even good places miss this detail? With a glass of decent syrah, a large bottle of Pellegrino, and a 20% tip, the total came to about $130. All in all, an excellent and thoughtful meal prepared with obvious care; I left feeling happy to live in a city that contains this restaurant.
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