Lucas Carton is one of my favorite restaurants but last time I was there shortly after Sept 11 I was a little disappointed. This time I was on a business dinner with 9 guests. I chose Lucas Carton since I felt I knew the menu and staff well enough to insure no mishaps and that even people who had never eaten at a 3 star would feel comfortable. It worked perfectly. We started with their standard amuse, razor clams with in the shell with creme, ginger and chives. This is perfect food for a glass of champagne and Jerome the sommelier recommended a Deutz 1995 blanc de blanc. It was very light and sofisticated and got the taste buds and conversation going. The atmosphere in the restaurant was back to the level I love. Not stuffy at all, quite a bit of noise as people are simply having a good time. The wait staff laughs and smiles. It was spring time for sure. But then came a few curve balls. We got a second amuse. This is not something I ever remember at Lucas Carton. I think it is part of a renewal of the restaurant you will here more about soon. The second was a cold cod fish creme served in a martini glass with a piece of fried cod on the side. The fried cod was on a toothpick and someone had spent the time to lodge a very small shell(a baby's finger nail) on top of the toothpick as a holder. The whole thing seemed a little rock and roll for what is normally a very traditional kitchen. Next course was the large langoustines wrapped in vermicelle and fried. I LOVE this course. The textures are tremendous. The vermicelli is very crisp, the langoustine like soft butter then the crisp again. This has been served with a chopped egg sauce for many years. But now it was served with three dipping bowls (one for each langoustine) filled with a marvelous creamy shellfisk sauce. On the side some dried chopped almonds. And there was no cutlery on the table. Then they explained we were supposed to eat with our hands, dipping the langoustine in the sauce then onto the nuts and popping into our mouths. Not exactly normal 3 star behavior. It tasted exquisite. The nuts gave a little surf and turf and mirrored the wine, a Comtes Lafon 1998 Meursault perfectly as the wine was rich, succulent with a hint of almonds. A perfect 10. They explained to me they had been serving this course this way for a few months and as the suggested wine runs out the search out a new one and change the type of dipping nut to match the wine. It is this matching of food and wine that makes Lucas Carton unique in my mind. And this eating with our hands confirmed the rock and roll trend. Next was a wonderful lamb from Limousin roasted and served with 3 types of eggplant (caviar, fried and oven roasted with spices). The only sauce was a little virgin olive oil. A simple dish that let the lamb shine. The wine as a Bandol, Chateau de Pibarnon 1993. The wine spectator thinks this wine should be drunk young. They are wrong. The 1993 was lovely and soft and a perfect match with the lamb. Next came dessert (before the cheese). A pepper meringue with ginger ice cream, and some lemon confit. Extremely light, it worked almost like a sorbet to cleanse the palate. The wine was an Italian late harvest Moscadello Di Montalcino 1998. Again this is a course that has been on the menu for years but changed slightly to match the new wine. The wine had a distinct citrus accent and this is why the confit lemon was added to the dish and the ice cream switched to ginger from licorice. It served the purpose of making us hungry again and ready for the last course which replaced cognac. Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese with 1983 Grahams Vintage Port and a spciy, cherry filled brioche. This is a heavenly combination. The cheese is a very mild, almost fruity blue cheese that brings out the fruit of the port and the bread. A perfect ending to a perfect meal. It cost 400 a head with a 10% tip so it is not cheap. But Lucas Carton continues to evolved while sticking to its traditions and keeping many of the same courses on the menu, although slightly altered. And the atmosphere is the most FUN I have ever had at any 3 star. Which is why I summarize the meal as Fun, fun, fun until daddy takes the wine and food away.