I’m (kind of) sorry to say that I don’t have any photos of the food to show you from dinner at Luc on Sunday night. Only kind of sorry, because I was having such a great times with friends, enjoying the food and the conversation and getting into the groove of a brand new restaurant…I just got totally distracted anyway. I couldn’t wait to get in there and see what my old pal Thierry Rautureau had cooked up for Luc, his new more casual restaurant just a few paces from celebrated Rover’s restaurant.
What I do have to show for the evening is a copy of the menu complete with a smudge of brown in the top right corner. And I think that tells the story about as well as any photo could. Evidence of the chicken liver mousse with rhubarb gelee that we’d sampled in the first round of the night’s orders. Sorry to have wasted even that tiny smidgen of it on the menu.
Some of us started the evening toasting with one of Luc’s signature cocktails, the Mad Hat’n (think “Mad Hatter takes on Manhattan”), a touch of pear cognac the distinctly soignée twist on the classic. Delightful. From then on it was rosé all the way, an ideal night for it. A lazy, late Sunday supper. A few scatterings of Mother’s Day flowers at a couple tables around the room. Festive and warm and still lingering sun in the sky.
I was prepared to be proud of how well we did sampling our way through the menu. With six good eaters, we had opportunity to try a number of things. Grilled beef skewers with deviled egg topping. Old-school (and wonderful) boeuf bourguignon. Homemade grilled lamb sausages with braised cabbage. Fries with Luc’s aïoli (a dash of harissa added). Sautéed spinach. White bean stew with bacon and arugula. Pork should roast (the daily special for Sundays, served family-style), cheeses, butterscotch crème brûlée. And the chef sent out a grilled whole dorade, simple and delicious, the cavity stuffed with herbs. Oooh, que c’était bon!
Pretty good, huh?
But that’s just a fraction, maybe 1/4, of the menu. Lots of things to look forward to for our next trip. Like grilled asparagus with Champagne mousseline and a grilled beef burger. Saffron couscous with fennel confit and pickled mackerel with potato-onion salad. Whole trout almandine and potato gratin with comté cheese. With an obligatory stop on each evening of the week to try the different daily specials, such as pot-au-feu on Thursdays and leg of lamb on Fridays.
Bravo, chef!! What a great corner of convivial deliciousness you’ve added to the lucky Madison Valley neighborhood, with your jaunty hat gracing that cool retro sign hanging outside the door. What a wonderful tribute to your dad, the original Luc. A tribute that we can all enjoy.
I don’t think anyone will complain about there being too many chefs in the kitchen for this upcoming dinner series. The brainchild of Thierry Rautureau, chef and owner of Rover’s restaurant (with whom I wrote the Rover’s cookbook!), at these dinners the same six chefs will collaborate on the meal, each of them hosting one of the dinners in their own restaurant over the course of the series. Brilliant! And how much fun for the diners to have a sort of progressive dinner at each event.
The other participating chefs in this delicious venture are Jason Wilson (Crush), Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita), Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez (Harvest Vine/Txori), John Sundstrom (Lark/Licorous) and Maria Hines (Tilth).
The series kicks off with dinner at Rover’s later this month, February 25. Future dates are March 16 at Tilth, April 14 at Harvest Vine, May 18 at Lark, September 21 at Cafe Juanita and October 19 at Crush. Plus a yet-to-be-determined November date to kick off the holidays and wrap up the series. This link on the Tilth site offers a preview of the various menus (though I wouldn’t be too surprised if there are tweaks between now and then).
For each of the dinners, the host makes appetizers and dessert, the others contributing the other courses. Cost is $90 (tax, tip and wine extra) and reservations for each meal should be made directly with the host restaurant. I have yet to pick a date or two to sample the series, but surely will join in the fun at some point.
the signature scrambled eggs with caviar
In my right mind, I should have declined the invitation. An elegant multi-course dinner on a Tuesday night? With wine pairings? And a 4:00 am wake-up call the next day for an early flight east? But my right mind lost out to my inner pouty 4-year-old who didn’t want to miss out on the fun. After all, how could I skip the opportunity to help celebrate this milestone of one of my favorite chefs in town–the talented, hilarious, be-hatted Thierry Rautureau, who I worked with to bring Rover’s: Recipes from Seattle’s Chef in the Hat to life? Couldn’t do it.
Rover’s actually opened in August of 1987, not September. But like the school kid who has a hard time rounding up friends for a birthday party over the summer, Thierry decided to postpone the festivities for a month. After this media preview evening, restaurant patrons were served
crab, lobster and turbot, oh my!
the same menu (a copy of which is available for browsing here). The menu featured 21 small dishes, one for each year of operation, served 2 or 3 at a time in 9 waves.
The right mind did hold sway after the fifth wave, the clock about to strike 9:00 and still a few rounds to go. That inner 4-year-old was tired by then anyway. I did manage to miss some delicious bites but was quite contented with the few different servings of foie gras–terrine served with Sauternes gelée, pan-seared with baked peach and blackberry gastrique, an ethereal mousse with nectarine chutney and seared scallop with foie gras and sweet corn. And my last bite was among my favorites of the evening: quail with fig, duck prosciutto and roasted garlic.
My husband and I have been fans of Rover’s since our first summertime
quail, as art
dinner there about 18 years ago. A recent Friday lunch to celebrate a work anniversary of his was the latest Rover’s extraveganza. The place has never failed to make me swoon, to make me leave feeling happy and indulged. Distinguished, creative dishes in an environment that’s engaging, warm, relaxed. It’s something we all deserve to treat ourselves to from time to time.