12 January 2016

New Year’s dinner at Lurcat revives my enthusiasm

I’ve always liked Café Lurcat and Bar Lurcat. Although they’re two separate establishments, they complement each other nicely. The Bar has a cool, hip vibe, great cocktails and excellent bar food (many of the same items available at the café.) The Café is elegant and sophisticated, the food is delicious, creatively prepared, and beautifully presented.

But we hadn’t been to either in a while. Why did it fall off our list? Well, we used to enjoy the live music in the Bar. But they don’t have live music regularly anymore. And the last time we went to the Café for a celebration dinner, we had a problem with a server-with-attitude. So despite really liking the ambiance and the food, we’ve opted for other restaurants for anniversary and birthday dinners lately.

We also don’t usually go out on New Year’s Eve. But I saw a notice of Lurcat’s menu for New Year’s Eve and it just appealed to me. So we decided to give it a try.

Well, not only was it a great way to welcome 2016, but the whole experience really refreshed my confidence in the restaurant.

For New Year’s Eve, Lurcat offered a fixed price menu for dinner, but with a few options for each course. You could get the dinner in either the Café or the Bar. There was music in both venues – a solo piano in the Café, a Sinatra-style jazz combo in the Bar. After the dinner service, there was a dance party with DJ in the bar.

We opted to take a table in the bar. First of all, that style of music fit more with our mood for the evening. In addition, then we’d already have a table when the dance party began.

Our dinner reservation was set for 8:45. We figured that way, we’d enjoy the jazz combo throughout dinner and be done eating when the dance party began (estimated at 10:30, actually closer to 11).

Our server for the evening (Anthony) was fabulous. Here are some of the things he did that made the evening so enjoyable:
  • He made helpful suggestions for choices from the menu. When we had trouble deciding which cocktail to order, he gave his recommendation and personal guarantee that if we didn’t like it, he’d take it back and bring something else.
  • He listened to our likes and preferences and based his suggestions on what we’d like.
  • He paced the service according to our schedule. So when we got up to dance, he held delayed bringing things to our table until we were ready. At one point, he apologized that the kitchen was running behind. But we just got up and danced until our entrees were ready.
  • At the end of the evening, after midnight, he advised us that there was quite a long wait at the coat check. But he took our claim check and brought our coats to us at the table.
  • Throughout, he was genuinely friendly and accommodating.
As we expected, the food was great. The amuse bouche was smoked salmon with herbed crème fraiche served on an endive boat. For starters, my wife had crab cake and I had an arugula salad consisting of little dumplings filled with duck and foie gras, and little kumquats and pieces of pear to add sweetness. My wife’s entrée was lobster and scallops on squid-ink stained pasta and with roasted vegetables. For my entrée, I had four beautiful lamb chops on a roasted garlic puree with fried artichokes and a Bordelaise sauce. It was the best lamb chops I’ve had in a long time.

Even though it was a fixed price menu, it was not a ‘tasting menu’ per se. The portions were full-sized. By the time we got to the entrée, my wife was feeling full and only ate about half of her pasta. The rest was boxed up and made a nice lunch. And we had a lot of choices for each course (except the amuse). Regular diners at Lurcat would recognize several familiar dishes, such as the crab cake, apple-cheese-chive salad, and Chilean sea bass. (If you want to see the full menu, click here. (I think this will work.))

The side dish was a platter of roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and baby potatoes. There also was a choice of desserts. While we generally like to get different items and share, in this case we both ordered the pistachio pavlova with blackberries and black current syrup.

So after all that, Lurcat is back on my list of excellent restaurants for a special occasion. I only wish they’d reinstitute live music in the Bar.