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Lucier - CLOSED


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#21 Laksa

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:58 AM

And another thing--I may be an insensitive dolt but I do know that asking a woman to walk more than about two blocks if she's wearing heels is a remarkably effective way to decrease her enjoyment of any occasion. Making Lucier all the more pedestrian unfriendly.

#22 jennifer

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 12:48 PM

The only thing I question is the chef. He hasn't proven himself in this sort of place.


I agree with you. Sounds like they did a great job in design and most areas of recruiting (score on the wine person from Inn@Little Washington!), but the exec chef...that's the most important part. And they're banking it all on the chef from Fennioul and Tucci? I see he had some time in SF, though I'm not familiar with the 2 restaurants he was at. I don't get it, I don't understand what they're thinking. Everything else seems so well thought out. It actually makes me nervous for them.

Tucci's food was good, but it wasn't fine dining $100+/psn good by any respect, and there were many dishes that missed the mark in one way or another. Fennioul also has consistency issues. I dunno, I really hope it works out to be great, I'd love to have a landmark place like to go to and to recommend to clients, but I'll be sad if it ends up being yet another almost-great place around town.

Sorry = spelled Fenouil wrong.

#23 Amanda

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 12:56 PM

Big time, high-end, large $, dress code dining in Portland. I wonder if and how it will fly? I wish them success because it would definitely fill a niche some people really seem to crave; especially the "appropriate attire required" type. I'm not one of them, though.

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#24 ExtraMSG

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 01:11 PM

Laksa, I think you're obsessing on things that don't matter. Vague descriptions and lofty language on a restaurant that hasn't opened, especially one that will probably be doing New American cuisine? So. Biwa, Tandoor, K&Z? Not even apples to oranges. Apples to spinach.

And how does the comment about heels make any more sense for Lucier than any other restaurant in Portland? Having valet and a nice place to drive up and drop people off puts them ahead of 90% of Portland restaurants, even nicer ones.

There is only two things that matter at this point: 1) are they putting in place the conditions necessary to create a fantastic restaurant, and 2) is Portland ready for that level of a restaurant.

I'd say the former seems mostly true. They are making a real effort to train their staff and put enough feet on the floor and bring in experienced managers. They are trying to establish a superior wine service and bringing in people who can do it. They are making a gorgeous space in a gorgeous setting -- in fact, it will be a nicer looking and set restaurant than nearly all of the ****/***** restaurants I've visited. My only real question is choice of chefs.

Here is Chureau's biography:

http://www.ingoodtas...ring_Dinner.asp

It's been 10 years since he's worked at this level of dining. I have no clue what he did at the 3 star restaurants he worked at in France. If he was just chopping vegetables, then who cares. I'd love to find a review from when he was at Mistral. The food at Fenouil has been pretty good, a bit inconsistent on execution, but conceptually fine, yet nothing exceptional. But I've never gone to one of his special meals, which woudl give someone a better sense of what he can do. A much safer bet would have been snatching a sous chef from a **** or better restaurant in SF, Chicago, or NY where there are plenty.

As for Portland? We don't truly know, but judging from how Plate & Pitchfork sells out and how other wine dinners sell out, I'd say that there's a good possibility Portland is ready. If it were me opening the restaurant, I'd want more like 50 seats rather than 100+ or whatever they'll have. I continue to believe that the most important thing is that they really knock it out of the park. They have to make people think that they don't need to go to NY or Las Vegas or SF to get a terrific meal and that they wouldn't necessarily do any better in those cities. They need it to be at the top of every foodie vistor's list of must-eats. And what they really don't need is people going, "Yeah, it was good but not that much better [service, decor, food] than Wildwood or Toro Bravo or Fenouil or ...."

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#25 Laksa

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:42 AM

I don't think we disagree as much as all that. I think that they have to really hit it out of the park too. And I also think that doing so reliably well by serving 'haute cuisine' to a hundred or more people is a very tall order.

Going to a fancy restaurant is a whole experience, including any and all hassles and discomfort and inconvenience. The thing about heels seems relevant to me because it's the kind of place where a woman might prefer to wear them, which limits her transportation options. Ditto with the valet parking. If you don't like it (and there's many a car buff who doesn't) you street park or suck it up. Not to mention that, let's face it, that part of town is not very welcoming at the best of times. These little negatives add up. If the ball is truly being hit out of the park, no problem, otherwise people figuring out where to eat one night might not quite consciously identify the above hassles as problems (and maybe not even explicitly remember the sore dogs or the anxiety of seeing the beemer in a strange man's hands) but they'll make the choice of another spot more likely anyway. Throw relative expense into the mix and it shifts the odds away from choosing Lucier further still.

You raise the question of whether Portland is 'ready' for a truly high level of dining. I love this city but the one thing about it which drives me nuts is this horrible defensive cringe everyone adopts when comparing it to other places. Somehow Portland has to 'belong on the map' or otherwise conform to some completely arbitrary criteria of sophistication like being 'ready' for the supposed likes of Lucier. Portland is wonderful on its own terms and the presence of Lucier confirms or establishes exactly nothing. It's actually more likely that by striving for whatever parity a Lucier supposedly endows the city with we reveal for all to see our horrible civic insecurity.

I do think words on the web site matter. Words matter period. Reading Lucier's site you learn exactly nothing about the style of food, the chef's influences or values, useful knowledge like that. Instead you get some bushwa about joie de vivre. Excuse me, are some general hints about what kind of food to expect really too much to ask for? I also suspect that if they can't articulate what the restaurant aims to achieve it decreases the odds of success. Doesn't that kind of info belong in a business plan?

I ate at Fenouil once. I liked the duck cassoulet. However frites with truffle oil is a dishonest dish. There's a place for truffle oil (it works on the pizza at APizza Scholls) but it is an artificial flavor whose aroma suggests more than the vaguely chemical taste delivers.

For better or worse I hold places like Tandoor and your deli in much higher regard than I ever could the Luciers and Fenouils of the world. Maybe, as you say, it's apples and spinach. But I value integrity wherever I find it. You've got more of it than Fenouil and Lucier and Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory do added together. And I bet my bottom dollar that it'll serve you way better than joie de vivre ever does Lucier.

#26 whippy

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:06 PM

My impression of Lucier based on the website so far makes me giggly.

"The French call it joie de vivre."

<_< :D :D

This sort of thing isn't just vague and lofty, it's hilarious. I can't tell if they're selling cheap perfume to hookers or elegant food to experienced palates. As harbinger of good taste goes, their initial volley is a failure.
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#27 SauceSupreme

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:49 PM

It's sad to think that impressions would actually improve had the webpage been an almost blank page, except for "Lucier, Coming Summer 2008" and then an address.

Going to a fancy restaurant is a whole experience, including any and all hassles and discomfort and inconvenience.

Funny, I think the same thing about going to Alberta St.

Words matter period. Reading Lucier's site you learn exactly nothing about the style of food, the chef's influences or values, useful knowledge like that. Instead you get some bushwa about joie de vivre.


Careful: "hassles, discomfort and inconvenience" are just as vague as sophistication, creativity and attentiveness.

Will Lucier be hassle-free (as opposed to staying at home), comfortable (like, for me, Clyde Common), convenient (K&Z), sophisticated (Sel Gris), creative (Pok Pok), as well as attentive (Le Pigeon)? Could any restaurant truly ever combine all those elements?

Highly doubtful, but I'll cheer for them nonetheless, and be just as heart-broken if they don't live up to it, and be full of joie de vivre if they do.

The missing elephant from the room is the price, moreso than the menu. I suspect both are still under development, and that's fine, but in the meantime I prefer to snack on both apples and spinach.
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#28 nervousxtian

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 06:42 AM

Not really fair to compare them to Biwa, Tandoor, or K&Z which are ethnic restaurants, or in the case of K&Z a Jewish Deli. They aren't trying to be that.

I remember quite a few threads saying how Portland lacks the high-end euro-style restaurants, but whenever we get one, everyone poo-poo's on them before they open.

What a great attitude to have.

#29 Laksa

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 09:46 AM

My impression of Lucier based on the website so far makes me giggly.

"The French call it joie de vivre."

:D :D :D

This sort of thing isn't just vague and lofty, it's hilarious. I can't tell if they're selling cheap perfume to hookers or elegant food to experienced palates. As harbinger of good taste goes, their initial volley is a failure.



ROTFLMAO! Lucier would be the perfect name for hooker perfume--"Lucier, just one F away from the very devil!" Maybe Eliot Spritzer could do an ad spot?

But the sadder truth revealed to me by your post is that the people who assume that horrible defensive cringe when the subject turns to Portland's sophistication are given ample reason to do so by Lucier. I can all to easily imagine someone far away, and not necessarily from a cultural capital, pulling up their web site and inferring from it Portlanders are a bunch of easily-impressed rubes.

#30 mczlaw

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 11:35 AM

I don't give a crap about their website--and won't infer anything from it. Too easy a shot.

Eat the food, then rip away if you want. They don't call it "tasting and judgment" on Iron Chef for nothing :D

Allez cuisine!

--mcz

#31 Laksa

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 12:28 PM

I don't give a crap about their website--and won't infer anything from it. Too easy a shot.

Eat the food, then rip away if you want. They don't call it "tasting and judgment" on Iron Chef for nothing :D

Allez cuisine!

--mcz


Hmmm. I called bullshit on Chayote Grill based on nothing more than its web site. Then you visited and warned everybody off (merci bien), and then it went tits up.

Similarly with Terroir--there was something bogus about it from the moment it first appeared. By all reports the food wasn't bad, but there were other issues.

I'm calling bullshit on Lucier because if they don't understand what a lame web site they've got it's not unreasonable to suppose there may be other things about top tier dining they don't understand either. And that's not the only reason. The Fenouil precedent is hardly confidence-inspiring, the economy sucks right now and it's gonna suck worse, the location is convenient to exactly nowhere, etc. Other issues.

Examining my prejudice here, I concede that if Fenouil was held in the esteem Toro Bravo and Sel Gris are I'd probably think very differently.

#32 John DePaula

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 12:40 PM

I think you're going to need a LOT more data points to be able to predict much from a web site.
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#33 Diner

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 03:07 PM

I'd like to hear from someone who has dined there. Everthing else on this page is speculation.

I remember when Fenouil was the bashing point if this web site. Turns out some of you like it.

Let's not be too fast in planning to pan a new restaurant in Portland.

#34 Flynn

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:28 PM

I'd venture a guess that the people scrambling to put together the actual restaurant have spent roughly 0% of their time on the stupid website. That has the bite marks of marketing all over it.

Laksa, you sound like you're firmly in the 'defensive cringe' camp. We're ostensibly getting something new here, in the high end. If it doesn't measure up, it'll be obvious pretty quickly after opening. It seems very cringey to call bullshit on it based on their stupid online brochure.

Fenouil is actually good, but misses being great. I've had some nice meals there, but Lucier will have to take major steps forward to make it a destination. I too am skeptical, but I'm not ready to pile on just yet.

#35 concreteoatmeal

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:37 PM

IMO, most restaurant websites are fairly lame. I mean what did you expect? especially from a restaurant yet to open/nail down a menu!?

I would call all this premature but im not sure thats strong enough.
Laksa, sounds like youre going to be the last one dragging yourself down there, but i am now waiting for it to be really good to see if the ridiculously early detractors have the intellectual honesty to begrudgingly admit good.
"If you were expecting a kick in the groin, and you get a slap in the face.......thats a win where I come from"

#36 Poodle_head

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 07:13 PM

I think the reality is that for the first six months, it's going to be a hot spot - a hard to get reservation and a place to see and be seen. Hell, I'll go when I can get in and I keep hoping and hoping I get an email from Scott inviting me to the "premiere" - but no such luck yet and I'm sure it's "the" golden ticket. When all the buzz dies down, then you're going to see if it's going to be a long term thing.

#37 Amanda

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 07:23 PM

It's definitely not my thing, but I want Lucier to do well. I see no reason to see it shot down in flames before it even gets off the ground.

As for the website it just isn't really anything yet and doesn't really matter. What will matter is when someone goes, eats the food, and then tells the world about their experience. I hope they report good news.

Best regards,

Amanda

#38 aidensnd

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 08:40 PM

I think the big question is that if Fenouil isn't stellar every single time, then how are they expecting to pull it off on such a grander scale? With the kind of numbers they are talking about, size of staff, expected numbers of covers each night, estimated menu pricing etc. they can't afford to not be spectacular with every single plate they send out. I wish them the best, but it seems like if you're going to spend that kind of money on a place with such lofty goals then why why why didn't they get a name chef or at least some very experienced kitchen talent to head it up? They advertised all over for a sommelier and pastry chef and were willing to pay very nice wages for them, why not do the same for the exec, chef de cuisine etc. Makes no sense to me at all.

#39 ExtraMSG

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 08:57 PM

aidensnd, I don't think that's a question at all. Fenouil wasn't even trying to be that sort of place. It takes a lot of people in a kitchen to put out that kind of food.

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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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#40 aidensnd

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 12:03 AM

My point is that Fenouil seems to be inconsistent, not that it isn't on the same level as Lucier is expected to be. If you're putting out food, regardless of the caliber of that food, it should always be consistent. In my opinion that's the most important thing in a restaurant. I also think that consistency starts at the top and unless I'm mistaken those are the same people that will be in charge of the kitchen at Lucier. If at Fenouil they weren't consistent and now are moving up to a whole new level, that concerns me.

Like someone else said, if Fenouil had a sterling reputation then it would make more sense to me to have that same kitchen leadership at Lucier. I feel like if you haven't mastered what you're doing now, then should you really be trying to do something that much more detail intensive? Or would it make more sense to have the kitchen helmed by someone who currently does perform at that level.

In a way it reminds me of the beginning of Ten-01. The building was great, location great, kitchen setup was great, money was spent where it was needed etc.. The big unknown entity was the kitchen leadership and instead of getting someone already performing at the level the restaurant aspired to they had someone who was pretty good in their former position and look what happened.

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be fantastic to have a really high end place in town and I hope that Lucier is it because I can't imagine anyone else dropping that kind of money here anytime soon, it just seems like they could have minimized the potential risk with a proven kitchen leadership team.