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14th August
2009
written by spd
The exterior of Suzanne Goin's Lucques (img: Lucques)

The exterior of Suzanne Goin's Lucques (img: Lucques)

Long before the locavore movement was in vogue, Suzanne Goin was a practicing farm-to-fork chef, sourcing her foods from the California’s finest growers. Named one of Food and Wine’s top chefs one decade ago, Goin took home the James Beard in 2006 for best Californian chef. Lucques, her chic, but homey Melrose restaurant, is the first of four in the Los Angeles area (her newest, Tavern, just celebrated its opening) and is located in a charming space that used to serve as ¬†silent film star Harold Lloyd’s carriage house. ¬† David and I took our lunch there on a sunny afternoon, and found the food to be just as lovely as the ivy-covered outdoor patio.

Every meal at Lucques begins with helping of butter-basted almonds, crusty bread, fleur de sel, butter and lucques, the restaurant’s vivid green namesake olive. It could be what we chose to order, but Goin’s love of the almond – used in almost ever dish that came to our table – led us to believe that, perhaps, they chose the wrong name!

While we were originally enticed by lunch prefix, the three courses offered that afternoon featured no protein whatsoever (Suzanne!). So we went a la carte, and were not dissapointed. Our starter was seasonal and fresh, and exactly what we had hoped for. Fresh Peaches with Dandelion Greens, Almonds, Ricotta Salata and Abbamele. The saltiness of the ricotta salata and the intense bite of the dandelion were wonderfully matched with perhaps the most perfect peach I’ve ever laid eyes on (And, yes, I’ve been to Georgia). The dish made all other produce I’ve consumed in my life look unworthy.

Our two entrees arrived and were both colorful sights to behold. David chose the Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich on Toasted Brioche with Avocado, Tomato and Bacon. The ingredients were top-notch, but the slippery combination of the avocado and the tomato made it a difficult stack to eat and by the end of our meal, it was a de-contructed pile of goodness. The mayo (?) that was served with it was too salty, but the asian cabbage coleslaw that accompanied the dish was quite good. I normally despise coleslaw, but this wasn’t a mayo-saturated, bland scoop of goo… it was lightly dressed, and a perfect side for summer.

Oregon Salmon with Almond Pesto, Corn Pudding, and Shaved Summer Squash (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

Oregon Salmon with Almond Pesto, Corn Pudding, and Shaved Summer Squash (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

I chose the Grilled Market Fish (that day, Wild-Caught Oregon Salmon) with Corn Pudding, Shaved Summer Squash and Almond Pesto (yes, almonds). I could rework the lyrics of “My Favorite Things” to include the ingredients on my plate. As I devoured the dish, I kept thinking that this is a perfect example of how I wish to eat daily. Lord knows what the chef did to the paper-thin squash, but they were divine; and the textural contrast of the corn pudding’s crispy edges with it’s souffle-like interior was very nice. David thought that the presence of the fish itself was eclipsed by the other elements on the plate, and I’ll agree that the chef was a overly generous with the almond pesto. I would, however, order it again in an instant.

Lucques is worth a visit if you are looking for simple fare, prepared with the finest ingredients. The setting is charming, and the food itself is guilt-free and healthful.

Lucques 8474 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood, CA 90069. ph. (323) 655-6277

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