First Look: Luc
The very first thing I need to tell you is that I am an investor in Luc. A very small investor but still, an investor. When Thierry Rauturaeu offered a way to help him raise funds for this new place, I jumped on it for a couple of reasons. First, I love Rover’s and was very excited that Thierry was planning to offer his amazing food in a more approachable format – a place that I could frequent on a regular basis. Selfishly I wanted to support that effort. Additionally, the Chef in the Hat, as Thierry is often called, is one of our amazing local chefs who frequently contribute time, materials and their names to support local non-profit organizations and fund raisers. I often marvel at the effort these chefs put in supporting and helping others. I saw the investment as a way I could support someone who has been generous in this way. Okay, that’s my disclaimer. Now to my experience.
Unfortunately for me, I missed the pre-opening events Luc held for investors so I had to wait for the bistro to open to the public. Because so many people had been anticipating the opening I wanted to hold off a few days for the first wave of hysteria to settle down. Last Monday a friend and I stopped by around 8:00 pm thinking by that time the after work crowd would be on their way. There were several open tables but they were being held for reservations. The small bar overlooking the kitchen was packed with diners just starting their dinners, and the bar was also jam-packed! I was so happy to see the place full on a Monday night. After just a short wait a couple places at the bar opened and TS and I grabbed them.
I started with a cocktail, the Lucatini, and she had a glass of Prosecco. My cocktail was beautifully executed and delicious! While we were looking over the menu we ordered the Grilled Beef Skewers appetizer. By the time we were ready to order our main course the appetizer had not yet arrived. I asked the bartender about it and he was borderline condescending with his response. I decided to let it go since I knew they were still in their ramp up stage but I did think the bartender could have been more gracious with his comments.
We ordered the special sandwich of the day which was open-faced pulled pork. It arrived before our appetizer. I guess I should have followed up on my initial inquiry… No matter that it showed up first, it didn’t change the wonderful, smoky, tender taste or the perfectly, crispy fries that came along with it.
After a couple bites of our sandwich the beef skewers appeared. They were also very good, tender and juicy, topped with egg salad, which was interesting. I didn’t really think the egg salad added much but I didn’t mind it was there, either.
We decided to go all out and ordered the Butterscotch Crème Brulèe for dessert. It had a nice heavy, crunchy, sugar crust and the crème was delicately butterscotch and dreamily creamy.
Somewhere in there we also ordered a 1/2 carafe of house wine. Wilridge Winery has created a Luc blend – both a red and a white. And the prices are very reasonable. In fact, all the wines are reasonably priced but the house wine is an especially good bargain with the 10 oz 1/2 carafe coming in at $10 and the full carafe at $20.
I really wish Luc was in my neighborhood but even located where it is, you’ll find me stopping by on a regular basis. And that would be true whether I’d invested or not. I look forward to them getting their timing perfected so that appetizers arrive prior to entrées, and it seems they may need to tighten up their timing on reservations as most of the reserved tables that were empty when we arrived were still empty when we left. But that is something that will come with experience. Diners at Rover’s tend to linger longer than at most places and that’s this group’s experience to date. Luc will come into its own rhythm in a few months.
If you’ve been to Rover’s expect a different experience here. Casual; welcoming and warm (not that Rover’s is not); an a la carte menu; a little boisterous, though not overly so. In the summer there will be sidewalk dining. I expect there will be a lot of "regulars" as it seemed that was already going on after just a couple weeks. A neighborhood hangout, that’s still good enough for a special occasion.
2800 E. Madison