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Lucca Cafe, Irvine


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#1 Priscilla

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 03:55 PM

Had lunch at Lucca Cafe in Irvine, in the Quail Hill center off the 405 @ Shady Canyon/Sand Canyon.

An ecumenical, though admirably edited, Mediterranean menu + commitment to local, sustainable, organic & c. makes for a very happy matchup, Californian in the best possible way.

I had butternut squash ravioli from the regular lunch menu, the pasta stained a beautiful sunset orange with the same squash that was used in the filling. And a very good filling it was, too... properly concentrated, bursting with squash flavor, buttery vegetal texture. Butternut is not my favorite among the winter squashes, it is so often insipid, even watery, but common enough that it has become something of the go-to, winter-squash staple in this, the post-Wolfgang Puck era of "butternut squash soup" ubiquity.

Of course insipid butternut can be avoided by buying GOOD butternut to begin with as must have been done at Lucca. I have been known to serve farmers' market butternut myself, peeled, cubed, tossed in butter, brown sugar, s & p, roasted. Prepping enough kabocha (my true squash love) to furnish my Thanksgiving table was not a possibility and the butternut, GOOD butternut, was delicious. But for any butternut treatment to work, the veg itself must be excellent quality.

In the middle of the plate was a beeyootiful teensy-gauge haystack of crispy fried leeks as fine as beading wire, hiding a secret stash of really excellent buttery spinach. To have restaurant food taste of butter -- when called for -- is such a treat. And neither overloaded nor overly austere. Just a delicious and beautiful plate of food.

Can't wait to have it again.



#2 Joan

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 08:20 AM

This restaurant belongs in NorCal, but hey I wish it the best. hehe. I wish more OC people could appreciate this type of restaurant.

Edited by Joan, 19 May 2010 - 08:20 AM.


#3 Priscilla

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:29 AM

I know what you mean... having gone there so soon after going to Zuni Cafe for the first time I was struck by some similarity between the two.

The rooms, for instance, share some design elements.

I think they've been there since 2005 or so, so seem to have touched a chord w/OCers. Haven't been back yet but plan to soon.




#4 Priscilla

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

Went to a lovely preview of Lucca's new bar menu, now available in the restaurant.

SO GOOD. A cured, braised pork belly, richly lacquered on the outside and melting on the inside, landed on soft polenta enriched with mascarpone and corn kernals. Dried-apricot chutney, too, on top. Heavenly.

Scottish salmon tartare with homemade potato chips, sort of a perfect, welcome, sparkling fresh rendition of what is a ubiquitous dish often not made well. About the best tartare I've ever had in a restaurant, period.

Many other fab dishes... about which more later, in this space or another.


#5 Priscilla

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:03 PM

Lucca Cafe's Facebook page is a great way to keep up with the haps there. Photos of the new bar menu, too.

Also, sign up up for chef Cathy Pavlos' newsletter, it's always full of great stuff.



#6 Priscilla

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:28 AM

For those who are already Lucca fans, AND those who are not YET (which means only that they haven't been), a little something about chef-owner Cathy Pavlos today in Taste of Orange County. Plus more to come!

#7 Priscilla

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 10:42 PM

As alluded to, more on Lucca Caf? from m' mag blog today. FAB bar snacks, themed Sunday Suppers, just lots to like.


#8 Priscilla

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 11:09 AM

Another great visit to Lucca last weekend with the lovely and talented Cynthia Furey... we had multi micro plates, all FAB.

AND the very good news is micro plates are now available 4 p.m.-on, instead of being limited to a happy hour window.