Generally speaking, almost all middle class American families go out to eat only several times a year. My husband and I are generally not big spenders, especially when it comes to food, so whenever we do go out, we make sure that every penny we spend is well worth it. Trust me when I tell you that it’s worth it to do your research before spending the evening in a place that you haven’t been before!
Fine Dining at Its Finest, Lucques, West Hollywood
We finally agreed to go on a Thursday to Lucques restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on Melrose Avenue, but we still couldn’t decide on a time, I specifically wanted the afternoon because I felt that it wouldn’t be as crowded. My husband insisted that the night would be more romantic. After a lot of asking around and searching the web, I noticed that the restaurants hours varied by the day. Thursday lunch was served 12- 2:30 PM followed by dinner at 6:30 PM. After a back and forth conversation I decided to let my husband be romantic and take me out at night even if it might be a little crowded.
At Lucques Reservations Are A Snap
Although there are walk-in available tables, we decided we wanted to make a reservation just in case it was, well, you know, crowded. Lucques LA offers reservations online and by phone. I wanted to talk to a staff member to make sure there were no misunderstandings. I called up and made a reservation for two people at 7:30. (The restaurant was open that night until 10 so we had plenty of time to dine the night away). The lady who picked up was extremely nice and very helpful.
My husband and I are pretty new to the area of Downtown LA, so a main reason we picked to go out to Lucques was because of its centralized location, which has a variety of different things to do. We decided to go somewhere in that area because, it’s Downtown Los Angeles, need I say more?!
The restaurant is located on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, which is a prime place for shopping, dining and entertainment. Paramount Picture’s is just one of the many landmarks on the same street. We were excited to pass by and see what it was all about. It’s easy to get there even if you don’t have a car (or don’t feel like driving).
Take a Look Inside
We arrived on Melrose Avenue a half hour before our reservation so we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. The restaurant was easy to spot due to its beautiful outside façade, which was covered and draped with grape vines and ivy, with a prominent sign saying, Lucques. I happen to pride myself on having an eye for design and architecture and was immediately impressed with the interior and exterior of the restaurant. The restaurant is set up in a unique way that allows the customer to feel that the place is much more spacious than it actually is. Definitely have to give them some credit for that (my “it’s going to be too crowded” plea was definitely out of line)!
They have different options for seating. You can either sit inside near the fireplace (ooh romantic!) or outside on the patio.
The overall set up gives off a vintage/ retro feel that made it more relaxing, and elegant, while at the same time retaining it’s close to home feel. My personal favorite piece in the restaurant had to be the vintage fireplace. It added a lot to my overall experience.
Its California cuisine, with French and Mediterranean influences, served in the warm environment of the rustic carriage house that was originally the Harold Lloyd estate.
From the moment we walked in, to the time we left, our experience was phenomenal. The host instantly greeted us. We told him that we had a reservation for two and before we said another word, he was already showing us to our table. Although the table that was reserved for us was outside, we went inside to take a look around, and saw the fireplace, which I immediately fell in love with, and then wanted to sit inside instead. It was definitely full but I wouldn’t say crowded. They were very flexible and easy to deal with. Just from being in there for only a few minutes, I could already tell that the staff was genuinely present to make us happy and comfortable.
As soon as we were seated, we received our menus. They had a very nice lay out, which made it easy for us to order. We had heard and read so much about this place. We were eager and excited to see what they had to offer. Before we were even able to take a look at the menu in depth, bread, butter, almonds, and olives, were brought to our table, along with a pitcher of cold water. It was a great way to start out the night.
Lucques restaurant menu has a large variety of things to choose from, this is definitely plays a large part in why their food appeals to everyone. Although they do have a great selection of appetizers, I often find that if I have too many appetizers, I will end up not being able to enjoy my meal as much.
I dove right into the main course and decided to order the duck entrée. My husband however is more of a soup person who, somehow, always finds room for anything that comes his way. So he ordered the summer squash soup, and for his main dish, he decided to go with the lamb.
Once we were ready to order my husband called over the waitress. We were impressed with the short amount of time it took for her to reach us and take our order. She graciously asked us if there was anything else we needed and kept refilling our water pitcher without reminder. Now this might seem small, but bigger restaurants tend to forget the little things like that. Like most restaurants in Los Angeles, we expected the wait for our food to be at least 45 minutes. However, at Lucques, this was not the case. To our surprise, within 20 minutes our food was on the table and ready to eat! When they brought out our food we felt like royalty.
What would a fine night at a fancy restaurant be without any alcohol? I’m not the biggest drinker, but on occasion I tend to enjoy a tasty beverage. I took a look at their drink menu and was pleasantly surprised to have not heard of nearly all of the drinks! I then gave the menu to my husband and told him to surprise me (I mean, who doesn’t like surprises?). He ordered me a drink called “peach fever”. It was a mixture of tequila and yellow peach with lime, house tonic and herbal liqueur. A fruity drink was the perfect choice for my meal. It was strong but didn’t taste too much like raw alcohol, so I was able to enjoy it as I sipped it with my meal.
Let’s Get to the Good Part, Los Angeles Food
I can honestly say that their duck entrée was tasty and richly spiced in a very unique way.
It was cooked to perfection. The presentation was beautiful. The next time I’m back at this restaurant I will most definitely be getting the same thing!
My husband is generally a pretty picky eater but believe it or not, he was blown away by his meal. He described the soup as a bliss of different flavors in his mouth. The soup is made up of yogurt, blossoms, mint and sumac, which contributed to its unique and diverse flavor. The grilled lamb sirloin was served with fat pale-green lima beans and black olives on a bed of skordalia. This was his favorite food of the night. He said it was cooked to perfection, exactly the way he would like it, if he had ever eaten it like that before. It was well done but at the same time nice and tender. It tasted unlike anything he’s ever eaten.
The problem I always have when I eat out is that I never have any room for dessert! It’s not every night that we go out to eat though, so I decided to try and make room for just a little more. I didn’t want to order anything big, so I decided to get their seasonal sorbet with butter cookies for my husband and me to share. I’m not sure exactly what flavor the sorbet was but by the taste of it, I’m assuming it was berry flavored. The butter cookies tasted like they were straight from the oven and were surprisingly soft! The light desert was exactly what we needed after such a heavy meal.
A Little Background
We were so impressed with the restaurant that we decided to ask some questions of our waitress. We asked about the origin of the place and who the chef was. Our Waitress was extremely knowledgeable and ready to share everything we wanted to know.
Lucques was opened in 1998 by Suzanne Goin and her business partner Caroline Styne.
Suzanne Goin is a brilliant multi award-winning chef who later opened 3 other restaurants in LA as well. Suzanne graduated from Brown University and previously worked at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States, including Ma Maison, L’Orangerie in Los Angeles, Al Forno in Providence, Olives in Boston, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and Alain Passard’s Arpège in Paris. Her work as Executive Chef at Campanile made her famous in the culinary world in Los Angeles, which helped her all the way up to building up her first restaurant.
Caroline Styne was brought up in Los Angeles and started working in the food industry in 1989. At the young age of 22, she co-founded ‘Basically Baked Inc.’ that produced and distributed specialty foods to retail accounts across the nation.
With a lot of hard work, these 2 culinary geniuses pulled together a massively successful restaurant that instantly became a huge hit in the downtown LA community.
The Waiting Staff
As I’ve said previously in this review, from the moment we spoke to them on the phone to the moment we were leaving the check, the staff at Lucques was truly incredible. When we ordered they gave us exactly what we wanted, fast and efficiently. When we wanted to change our seat, not only did they not give us a hard time, but they were flexible and understanding. They were quick to get us whatever it was we wanted or needed. Everyone was warm and seemed 100% genuine. They went above and beyond for us to make sure we had the perfect night. Their warm smiles and supreme hospitality skills were greatly acknowledged and admired.
Sunday Supper at Lucques
It wasn’t until after I got to the restaurant that I heard about “Sunday Supper at Luques”. It made me wish that I had come on a Sunday night. They offer delicious meals just for $50 a person making dinner just a little bit more affordable! To give you a little idea of some things on the menu for Sunday Supper here are some of the best things that you need to try
- chilled summer squash soup with
yogurt, blossoms, mint and sumac
- market lettuces with romano beans,
cherry tomatoes, feta, olives and oregano
- ricotta gnocchi with yellow tomato,
summer vegetables and Parmesan cream
- grilled chicken paillard with fresh garbanzos,
sweet corn, purslane and chile-cumin butter
- earl grey pavlova with
pluot preserve and pine nuts
Believe it or not, I found myself coming back the following Sunday with my girlfriends! Everyone had a taste of something different and it has recently become our new Sunday night activity. Not only is the food delicious and affordable, we leave knowing we got a great deal.
In Conclusion, One of the Top Restaurants in LA
As I’m sure you gathered from this article, Lucques restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, is a place that I highly recommend. In fact, I’d call it one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles! My night’s goal was to have good food along with a great experience. I got that and so much more. The place was easy to find and was in a very classy location, for an interesting review about a classy restaurant in an extremely unclassy location, check out our Trois Mec Menu review. I enjoyed myself from the moment I walked in, just admiring the cozy feeling that I got from overall set up. I was able to feel the comfort of my own home but at the same time, have the feeling of no responsibilities to cook or clean. The staff was attentive and very helpful, making sitting and ordering so much easier. I was most impressed by the speed and quality of the food. We got our food 20 minutes after ordering, giving us the perfect amount of time to finish our appetizers and work up an, well, appetite. Our food was presented like a piece of art and it’s something my husband and I both felt changed the taste of our food. That being said, the food was just as good as it looked. Our food was fresh, hot, and tasted even better than it smelled. The food defiantly passed our expectations. The service was fantastic and contributed a warm feeling to the night. Like I said, definitely one of the top restaurants in LA.
Lucques LA has become my favorite place to dine. I was able to have the perfect night at the perfect place. Every penny that we spent there was worth it. If you’re looking for a quality place to take your loved ones, friends, or family, Lucques is definitely the place to go.
For the best breakfast restaurant in Los Angeles make sure to check out our Sqirl restaurant review!