Sunday, May 3, 2009


My friend Mike invited me to his birthday dinner this weekend. The dinner was at Lucques, one of LA's top restaurants. I had eaten at AOC, one of Suzanne Goin's other restaurants. I really liked AOC, so my anticipation for Lucques was really high.

The reservations were for 7:00PM on a Saturday evening. We arrived 15 mins late and the restaurant was bustling. There were nine people in our party and we were seated immediately in the area between the main room and the patio. The restaurant has a very comfortable atmosphere and the noise level makes it feel very casual. Lucques is famous for it's Sunday Supper, but the reason for it's success is based on the simple menu with top ingredients.

Lucques menu is a single sheet with a handful of starters and entrees. The meal begins with a basket of nice rustic bread, fleur de sel, oil cured almonds and the namesake olives. This was the first time I had ever had these olives and I can see why they named the restaurant after these olives. They were delicious. Mike is a wine connoisseur and he brought five bottles of amazing wine to be paired with our food. The starters all sounded very interesting and unique. I order the veal sweetbreads with grilled cornbread, wild mushrooms and pedro jimenez, the most popular starter at our table was the fried squash blossoms with manchego, marcona almonds and green romesco. When the starters were delivered, they had swapped the sweetbreads(SB) with squash blossoms (SB), the server said it would take 6-7 minsutes and apologized. So while everyone else ate, I waited for my dish and tasted everyone else's food. The green garlic soup with crushed potato and salt cod crostini was very good and the squash blossoms were incredible, the green romesco definitely gave the dish some pop. When my sweetbreads finally arrived, I dove right in. The grilled cornbread which was the base for the mushrooms and pan fried sweetbreads, was very soggy and had lost all of it's integrity. The overall flavors of the dish were great, but it was lacking in texture. There were some bumps in the service, but the meal was off to a good start.

For my entree I ordered the stuffed jidori chicken with hand-cut noodles, pancetta, asparagus and morels. Other entrees at our table included the alaskan halibut with black rice, sugar snaps, kumquat sambal and carrot-coconut broth, grilled lamb loin chops with turnip purée, citrus-glazed carrots, tamarind and dates, suckling pig with whole grain mustard, curly endive and warm artichoke-potato salad and tasmanian salmon with potato cake, cucumber salad, yogurt and pistachio aillade. All of the dishes had unique flavor profiles and ingredients, but the plating was simple and not pretentious.

My chicken my incredible and maybe the surprise dish of the night. The sauce was rich, the chicken was stuffed with a nice mixture of vegetables and the skin was nice and crisp. The hand made noodles really made the dish feel hearty. I sampled some of the other dishes the halibut and salmon were both very good.

We closed out the meal with several desserts including, churros y chocolate with cinnamon and dulce de leche ice cream, hazelnut milk chocolate cake with coffee and salted caramel, lemon curd and ricotta tart with blueberries and three cheeses with currant and walnut toast. The desserts were all delicious, my favorite was the hazelnut cake.

I thought Lucques lived up to my expectations and I think Chef Goin's dishes were all very inventive. I looked forward to trying the Tavern her new restaurant concept and coming back to Lucques for Sunday supper.

Golden Deli

Sorry for the delayed post. On our way back from Coachella, we stopped for lunch at the Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant in San Gabriel. I had heard alot about the food at this place and was excited to try it out.

We arrived just passed lunch time on a Monday. The restaurant was still very busy. My friend ordered the #1 and summer rolls. I ordered the Bun and some type sausage dish. The #1 at most Pho restaurants is the classic Beef Noodle Soup, with sliced rare beef, beef tendon and other beefy goodness. The pho looked great, but it's all about the broth. The sausage dish was very interesting, it was served with all kinds of condiments and summer roll wrappers. The peanut dipping sauce was delicious. My bun was also fantastic.

Overall the dishes we had were all very good. But in my opinion some of the Pho restaurants in the SF Valley are all just as good.