The Missus and I had an absolutely mind-bendingly good lunch today at Lucques (8474 Melrose Ave. (323) 655-6277, http://www.lucques.com/ ). Made a reservation for 2:00 p.m., but needn't have bothered; we were seated immediately when we arrived at a nice corner table on the patio. There were plenty of open tables inside and out. Got the usual Lucques spread when we sat down -- olives, almonds, bread and pulga butter with fleur du sel (or some such). All good, as usual.
Started with with a couple of salads: the heirloom tomato salad with burrata, croutons and opal basil; this salad is one of my favorites. Tomatoes are at the peak of summer perfection, orange, purple, red and yellow, all juicy and flavorful, and the dressing and other ingredients all fit together perfectly. Really just splendid. The Missus ordered a fatoosh salad made with cucumber, tomato, feta, lots of parsley and chewy, crispy, rich chunks of pita bread fried in olive oil. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this may be the best salad I've ever tasted. The parsley gave it a beautiful, bright flavor and aroma, and the fried pita bread together with the hunks of feta and tomato were just extraordinary. Like I said, I think this is the best salad I've ever had.
For main courses, we both ordered BLTs. (I had been craving a Lucques BLT for what seemed like months.) Again, this post is going to seem over-the-top, but this really is a superb sandwich. Sourdough country bread, slathered with good olive oil and then toasted on a grill, so it gets crusty and chewy and picks up a bit of smokiness. The bread is generously spread with creamy homemade mayonnaise, then topped with thick juicy slices of heirloom tomato, big hunks of perfectly ripe, creamy avocado, four or five thick, crispy, chewy, smoky, pieces of bacon, and a bit of crisp lettuce. The sandwich is rich and absolutely satisfying (if a bit hard to eat), a blt made with the best ingredients one can imagine. Absolutely top notch. Served with some dressed bitter greens. (If only it had instead come with their excellent fries....)
Service was great, with plenty of ice tea refills, and everything else we could have asked for. Two salads, two blts, an ice tea and a fresh lemonade came to $66 with tax but before tip.
As we were eating, I couldn't help thinking that pretty much everything we were served was, hands down, better than anything we ate at Cut last week, and not just a little bit better either. I know these things are, to a large degree, a matter of taste, and reasonable folks can and do differ, but for me, Suzanne Goin consistently just nails it. (Okay, I'll stop rambling now, but I do think we're going to make Lucques one of our go-to places for late Saturday lunches.)
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