I’ve been considering buying Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook for some time based on word of mouth, but as I was planning my last visit to LA, I thought, Why not actually go there and see what the food is like firsthand?
Lucques’s Sunday Suppers are $40 three course prix fixed meals; we had a choice of main course, but otherwise, all the guests are in the hands of the season and the chef. They post the menu on their website on that day, though, so you can decide if you want what they have that night.
It was a fantastic meal, full of flavor bombs of all sorts in every dish — and every dish was crave-worthy. I’d be excited to go again, and would want to try a meal with the regular menu. I think that the $40 Sunday Supper is a borderline bargain anyway. By my calculation, a three course meal from the regular menu would average about $50, so I guess you save about $10, but either qualifies as a pretty expensive meal for me and I like making my own choices. And the restaurant is beautiful, in a modern, yet cozy country sort of a way.
My only complaint was how dark it was in the restaurant. I couldn’t see the food clearly, and was surprised by their appearance when I looked at my photos; I can’t say that I could unequivocally recognize that salad below as my own. For such a fine food restaurant, I don’t know why they’re resorting to the dim lighting tricks of, say, a cocktail lounge with questionable food.
Speaking of drinks, though, we had lovely drinks - El Vampiro was a special cocktail that was like a Sangria prepared with Blood Orange Juice, and I had the Normandy: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Chambord, and fresh lime. I liked how the gin cut the sweetness of the Chambord and turned it almost floral until it was intercepted slightly by the sour lime.
I love little extras, so the almonds and sea salt along with the bread and butter made me feel welcome right away.
Alex’s Speckled Lettuces with Lemon Cream, Valdeon, Chives, and Candied Walnuts. I don’t know who Alex is, but I did find out that valdeon is a blue cheese that is creamy and earthy and should be used more. With a perfectly adhered sprightly dressing on the lettuce, it was a perfect salad.
Duck Confit with Black Rice, Tareh, Pea Shoots, and Candied Kumquats. The black rice here is the touch of genius for me. The slight chewiness and moistness went so well with the tender duck and tangy kumquats. As far as I could tell, though, there was one slice of candied kumquat and the rest were just sliced; all candied would have been too sweet and chewy anyway, and I liked having the two forms as points of contrast. The pea shoots added just the right support of a leafy, slightly crisp mellowness. Tareh is known as garlic chives, and the hint of garlic was stealthy and balanced out the dish.
Btw, the other choice for the main course was manila clams steamed in sherry with
artichokes, potato, english peas and favas.
Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Cashews and Dulce de Leche. I was a little disappointed when I saw this at first. Because it was so dark, it just looked like layers of cake and cream. But it was amazing — moist, creamy, flavorful. The waiter explained that every layer is different — soft chocolate cookie on the bottom, dulce de leche, choc cake, and white choc mousse. And chocolate sauce to bring it all together… and salt. The salt popped up in bites now and again, and I couldn’t tell how. It turned out that a little Maldon sea salt was sprinkled over the dish. Fantastic, and lent element of surprise for every bite. I loved the use of cashews — I think it’s an under-represented nut… and probably the one that I like the most. They go so well with chocolate, too.
Suzanne Goin is also associated with the small plates restaurant A.O.C. and the seafood restaurant Hungry Cat. Both have moved up a few notches on my must visit list… Oh, and I just realized that I have made a recipe of her’s from A.O.C.: Parmesan Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. They rocked. Blue cheese works well, too… Mmm…. Valdeon…