Saturday, November 10, 2007

lucien review

it's astounding to me that after all this time together (time that has literally flown by) when left to our own devices, just me and the dotytron sitting at a table, we can basically spend 3 hours engaged in nonstop blabbing.

lucien last night was good, but not great. the space is nice, warm, intimate feeling, the soundtrack is horrible (five discs ranging from bluesy jazz to more weird instrumental stuff, to vocal crooning - i LOATHE crooning - that was played at a volume slightly too loud to be unobtrusive, but not loud enough to be warranted by the playlist), service was decent, a little perfunctory, a little rushed, and absent near the end when the dotytron ordered an after-dinner drink, we had to almost resort to air-traffic-controller type motions to flag down our server after he had missed us about 10 different times. we also waited unduly for the check.

the bread plate was quite nice. house-churned butter flecked with hawaiian black salt, a warm brioche bun (correct, if just a tad dry) some cumin bread sticks (what's with the cumin breadsticks?) which was deliciously soft and yeasty and some cheese-flavoured flat crisps.

the dotytron started with the grilled octopus (which had been poached, then sliced uber-thin and laid out on the plate carpaccio style) with house-made chorizo (wonderfully gamy and smoky), potatoes, and a pimento aioli. we both really liked the dish.

i had the berkshire pork belly, served with clams (succulent and briny), cuttlefish, (served in fat, tender noodles), kimchee, toasted barley, and a slow poached egg. this dish was AMAZING. the pork belly was all quivering, melting fat, bound by melting strips of meat, all laquered with a sweet, asiany glaze that tempered the heat of the kimchee. the slow-poached egg was basically a self-contained little ball of egg custard, it was so velvety, and all of this was set off with the saline punch of the seafood and the chew of the cuttlefish. this dish was outstanding.

the dotytron had the fried organic hen. from left to right is the "creamed" collards (sauteed collard greens topped with a deep-fried, crunchy ball of suspended cream, that when cut into, oozed it's sauce all over the greens - ingenious); then the chicken breast which was breaded and fried (still juicy) and sitting atop a cornbread stuffing that had been formed into a flat little square; on the right was another part of the hen (dark meat) that had been crisped and served with braised little wee onions. this was delicious, especially the book-end elements. we both thought the chicken breast and stuffing centrepiece could have used a touch of jus, as both elements (even though the chicken was still moist) when eaten together were a little on the dry side.

i had the duck breast. i was a little disappointed in the portion size. it was tiny. barely 4 oz of meat that was undercooked slightly so it was a little tough. the ramen were housemade and quite nice and chewy, and the broth was strewn with seared mushrooms. overall the dish was a bit of a flat. the broth was too salty and tasted too strongly of soy and sesame oil, which mimicked the source material (ie. a bowl of noodles with bbq duck at your standard chinese bbq joint) too closely. there was nothing transcendent about the dish. it tasted like a slightly fancier rendition (although much smaller portioned) version of something i had at king's noodle on spadina last week.

we shared the cheese course. it came with nice accompaniments, a chewy sliver of peach, a jelly, a preserved cherry and some nice crispy crackers. there was a nice salt spring blue on there, and a nice sheep/goat combo and my perennial favorite, la riopelle. the only one we didn't like was the thunder bay gouda, which had no flavour and a waxy texture on the tongue. completely unmemorable.

for dessert i got the "good humour" aka homemade ice cream bars. these were quite nice. from the left you have strawberry shortcake (strawberry sorbet encased in white chocolate with bits of cake rolled around it), the drumstick (delicious! chocolate ice cream rolled in crunchy bits of bittersweet chocolate and salty peanuts) and the "creamsicle", which was some kind of cream flavoured ice cream topped with a yuzu sorbet. this was very cute and refreshing but not too sweet. it was a nice way to end the evening.

the dotytron loves tastings of anything (he's all about comparing and describing) so he ended with the rather pretentiously named chocolate "complex" (tasting of chocolate from around the world). i forget where they were all from, but they were all bittersweet chunks of chocolate from venezuela, montenegro (which led to my extremely off-colour - but hilarious to me - jokes about how that one tasted way more "negro" than the others) served with hawaiian pink salt, honey, balsamic and oil, and this overly floral hibiscus stuff that was just awful. it was like eating a pile of cheap perfume.

all in all, i thought it was quite good, but if we were to compare meal for meal, i thought that my amuse bouche experience the previous week had been a better all-around go, foodwise and service wise. with a half bottle of wine and a cocktail and a post-dinner drink it was $275 with tax and tip. the only homeruns for me at lucien were the apps, so i'm not sure how soon i'll return.

so now our time at playing at bourgeois is over. *tear* no more fancy meals until the dotytron's birthday. it was a good run while it lasted, and it was nice that one of the meals was a freebie.

today i'm going ot my coworker's wedding. we're jokingly calling it "librarian prom" because all the circ staff and librarians are all a-twitter at getting dressed up. i think it'll be fun! i'm excited for my friend as she's the sweetest girl alive.

so tonight's dinner will be wedding food!


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