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#1 Jill-O

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:37 PM

Drove by Luce last night and it looked like it was open for business as a restaurant, not as an event space.

This is the last I saw about it all: http://pdx.eater.com...ocery-space.php

Anyone have the skinny?
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#2 jrj

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 02:10 PM

Luce

Wed-Sun 11a-10p

antipasti 18 @ $2 ea.
salads $5-14 half/whole
housemade pastas $7-18 half/whole
entree specials $8-12
+ soup / dessert / sides / salami plate

everything also available for take-out

#3 Jill-O

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 03:50 PM

Wow, a whole month went by and hardly anyone noticed it opened? And no online menu...hmmm...might need to stop and look at what is posted in their window. If I can remember to do so, I will report back...

Thanks jrj!
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#4 Catastrophysicist

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 09:03 AM

I've been going by pretty regularly on walks with my daughter. I've been meaning to stop in for quite some time. The space looks pretty nice, and it also looks like they sell food items like sauce and noodles, but I'm not sure about that. It could just be pantry decor. They have rarely had more than 2 or 3 tables in there at a time, and often it is completely empty. The menu sounds fantastic and it's not too expensive, so I don't know if they're just lacking in advertising, or if it's actually just not too good. I'll try to swing by and snap a pic of the menu later on if I can.

#5 Catastrophysicist

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 04:36 PM

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#6 Jill-O

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 12:26 PM

Thanks!
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#7 vrunka

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:31 PM

Dropped by here for lunch the other day and had a very pleasant, generally well-executed meal. The space is very bright and cheery and they've got a nice selection of Italian groceries for sale.

They have a pretty extensive menu of antipasti -- you can mix and match for $2 a serving. Most (if not all) are also available in bulk to take home. We got chicken involtini, cardoons and olives and an arancine.

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Portions seemed kinda skimpy, especially for the prepared cardoon salad (all the salads are kept in a refrigerated case up front). These were all fine, but none of it knocked my socks off. The involtini were probably my least favorite of the bunch -- kind of a bland, quasi-fancy, tupperware party kind of hors d'oeuvres. Not that it was bad, it just wasn't much of anything. The arancine, at least, had a little spunk.

Things got better in the next round. We got a housemade pappardelle with porcini which was simple, but very nice with clear, straightforward flavors, a really fabulous cheese and perfect pasta. But the real winner was the stuffed trout which had a crisp flavorful skin and tender flesh with a really simple, but delicious bread/herb/garlic filling. Fantastic.
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This was the half order of the pasta.

Finally, for dessert we had the Luce Cake which is a genovese sponge cake with a cream and pistachio filling. Again, another unfussy, simple preparation with great, clear flavors. I liked it a lot.
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In all, lunch for the two of us with a couple of beverages came to just under $40 before tip. That's a tad spendy for a weekday lunch, but not unreasonable for a meal of that quality. And I'm pretty sure they use the exact same menu for dinner which makes it a darn affordable dinner out. I imagine some people will think the portions are too small, or will complain that they sell sides separately, but even if you got the most expensive main dish and a side, you'd still be under $20.

#8 ariel88

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:37 PM

Review of Luce in the Portland Mercury this week:

http://www.portlandm...ent?oid=5175702

#9 Laksa

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 09:53 PM

Luce > Accanto. Food is more interesting and a little cheaper and less salty.

#10 pyrofemme

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 02:16 PM

Review in the Portland Monthly sounds promising: Luce review

#11 ExtraMSG

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 05:20 PM

It's worth noting, however, that Brooks is a big fan of Navarre and gave it restaurant of the year once. Haven't tried Luce yet, but the comments that it's an Italian Navarre have tempered my eagerness.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#12 Laksa

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 08:40 PM

It's a nice place for a glass or a bottle and some light food. In any other city Portland's size it would be rated highly but we've been spoiled.

#13 Jill-O

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:42 AM

It's a nice place for a glass or a bottle and some light food. In any other city Portland's size it would be rated highly but we've been spoiled.


Well put. That is how I would characterize it too.

And, it's true, Brooks loves her some Taboada.
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#14 ExtraMSG

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 06:28 PM

Gave Luce a try not too long ago for dinner. Results were a mixed bag.

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Not being drinkers, the three of us tried each of the flavors of the Vignette wine soda they carry. It's made from the same grapes as the wine, in this case pinot noir, rose, and chardonnay. I don't know that they're significantly better than some more typical sparkling grape juice you would get at the store, but I enjoyed them well enough and the different varieties is nice.

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(Only cellphone photo, I promise.) We started by sharing several of the antipasti: cardoons and olives, arancini, chicken involtini, and polpettes. The arancini were definitely best. They were crisp, flavorful, had a nice texture inside, etc. The rest were just okay. Flavors didn't really pop, though execution on everything was good. Anti-pasti are $2/each, so that's $6 in arancini and maybe $4 worth of everything else. Not quite sure on that last bit because I didn't see the receipt or order them.

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It was ridiculously cold inside. Not just a little nippy, but ridiculously cold. I had just come from the restaurant on a day off where it was in the high 50s since I had the heat off. It definitely didn't feel any warmer inside Luce. The ends of my toes were actually starting to have that numbing feeling. We asked to turn up the heat and they did. It, perhaps, got up 5 degrees in the hour or so we were there. It's a small room with lots of windows and a door that is bound to blast cold air inside. The server said they inch up the heat. I suggest they blast that motherfucker in the future and inch it down. Because it was miserable.

So, that's all just to explain why all three of us wanted soups. We got both of the soups, the kale and farro and the cappelletti in brodo ($6 and $8). Both were two of the better items of the night. Very simple soups. The kale is pictured above. I didn't take a picture of the other. The broth was flavorful for the kale despite being, I'm sure, vegetarian. The kale and farro were both cooked nicely. There was obviously something added for richness, whether butter or olive oil, to the soup. The other soup were little filled pastas in a very chickeny broth. That's really all. But it tasted good.

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My companions both having gotten soups -- damn them -- I opted for a salad, "romaine salad with anchovy" (half, $7). I truly felt gypped. It was some romaine heart leaves -- these weren't big ones (that's a side plate they're on) -- with some olive oil and vinegar splashed on them and one small anchovy fillet. Not even some shaved parm.

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Pastas were decent. This was the pappardelle with porcini, cream, and a little cheese on top. Very simple, but the pasta was good quality and there was enough mushroom and cream and cheese to give it some flavor. My wife wanted more of the cream, but it wasn't clearly underdressed. $14, whole order.

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We also got the tagliatelle with beef and pork ragu. I thought the pasta was fine, but the person who ordered it thought it was a little overcooked. I only had one bite. Flavors seemed pretty good, though, meaty with a bit of sweetness from the tomato. $7, half order.

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I had the chicken, which I thought was the weakest dish of the night next to the romaine salad. It was braised with capers for $9 and came with a leg and thigh. The chicken was a little dry, perhaps over-braised? Other than the chicken, it was just a sauce, presumably the braising liquid, and a sprinkling of capers. The braising liquid was very mediocre. It didn't have any depth to it. The broth from the pasta soup would have been way better.

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We got all three desserts. The chocolate covered torrone was a very stiff nougat with a thin layer of chocolate. It was fine, a bit nutty, lightly sweet.

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Ricotta fritters with figs was fine, too. The fritters were very moist. The figs in sauce had a deep sweetness, though you couldn't really eat them with the fritters, so much as alternate between the two.

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I'm the only one who liked the Luce cake at all, probably because I ate most of it and about half the bites were extremely boozy, whereas the other half balanced nicely with the sponge-cake, custard, and nuts.

I'd say that the comments calling it an Italian Navarre are right on the money. If you like Navarre, you'll probably like this. At least our service was better than 90% of my experiences at Navarre. Food, though, as with Navarre, was a mixed bag and I won't be craving any of the dishes in the future.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#15 Joedo6

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 07:56 PM

That salad is laughable. That poor lonely anchovy. why even bother? Guess they weren't kidding when they say "with anchovy" (singular).
Pastas look good though.

#16 ngaloppo

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 12:52 PM

Add one to the "frikkin' cold in there" count. We went a few weeks ago, while it wasn't even super-cold out, they still succeeded in making it uncomfortably chilly in there. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt (all-window establishment), but I can tell you that my dining companion was *not* happy throughout dinner. It certainly didn't help 'appreciating' the food either.

Overall, mixed bag. We got the arancine and chicken involtini. The arancine were good, one of the better items of the night. The chicken fell flat, as Nick said correctly.

We thought the pastas were "meh", but we're somewhat of pasta snobs. I thought the pasta itself was fine, and toothsome; not overcooked. But overall not enough flavor, spark, zing, or salt for that matter. The porcini were slimy and I forgot what else we got (orecchiette?).

The hangar steak, on the other hand, was the best thing we had that night. Simply served on its own with some of its juices, and perfectly cooked. I've had a few hanger steaks in town (note: *not* Laurelhurst, which I hear is good), and for me it's been the best I've had. I would have paired with a side if I had known it came with nothing else, but still perfectly executed.

#17 FoodKid

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 04:53 PM

Went for lunch today. Had chicken involtini, farro and parmasan pie, potato salad, and stuffed onions to start. I'm not sure why I decided to get the involtini given the criticism they've endured so far, but boy were they boring. Just very flat tasting. The farro pie had a decent texture, but again, had a somewhat boring flavor. Potato salad was quite enjoyable, with a slight vinegar taste, but the portion was less then a tablespoon. Stuffed onions were okay.

Followed antipasti with a few pasta dishes as well as the stuffed trout and garlic cabbage. Bucatini with bottarga had a toothsome quality bordering on being overly firm, but tasted nice enough. It was my favorite of the pastas. Pappardelle with porcini was limp and mushrooms were slightly gummy. Got a full order of tajarin with sage butter. I didn't expect it to bowl me over, but the full portion was hardly any bigger than the half portions of bucatini and pappardelle. Garlic cabbage desperately needed salt. I'll echo Vrunka on the stuffed trout. It was really great. I wish the rest of the menu was as good.

#18 vrunka

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:01 PM

This place just frustrates me to no end. I think I have to stop trying to go there for a while. Every visit has extreme highs and lows -- some dishes (like the trout and most pastas) are really great. Some (like the ricotta fritters which arrived at our last meal as doughy, barely cooked lumps) are beyond terrible. And what really gets me is how inconsistent the pricing is. Some things seem way over-priced and others reasonable or even cheap. You never know what you're going to get.

Come to think of it, it was this exact same kind of roller coaster ride that caused me to scratch Navarre off of our list years ago.

...I do love that trout, though.

#19 ExtraMSG

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:04 PM

Come to think of it, it was this exact same kind of roller coaster ride that caused me to scratch Navarre off of our list years ago.


+1
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's