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Lucier - CLOSED


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#661 chefken

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 01:56 PM

I tend to agree with the perception argument, although I find it hard to imagine that Lucier and/or its owners will ever be percieved as survivors. Regardless of the state of the economy, Lucier, aside from being expensive, had two things working agianst it; a chef without street cred, and a concept that spoke to a demographic that Portland really doesn't have. Add to that a design that was bordering on garish. My impression of Lucier was akin to a lottery winner that spends the winnings on things like gold-plated bathroom fixtures, and indoor swimming grottos. Portland is by and large a conservative community, and anything that smacks of Dubai excess is going to be rejected.

I also think Lucier was banking on the success of the South Waterfront. Sadly, that too has failed for many of the same reasons. Again, not unlike Dubai, a series of shimmering towers surrounded by desert; a lifestyle concept that is essentially lifeless. At this point, I think I'd focus less on a destination restaurant and more on what could strengthen a sense of community. The area (much to Homer William's dismay) is not comprised of million dollar condo owners, but rather a ghost town of failed flips and lease conversions.

Ultimately, I think the success of the space (in whatever form it takes) rests with what the area needs, and is willing to support.


I think that's really true. I've always believed that one of the keys to success for a business is to be able to have your core clientele live within walking distance so that, rain or shine, you're paying the rent. Then, if you can also be a destination for others, that's a bonus and that's where you can really make your profits. Its why the Deli is crowded - we have the hotels and the Pearl and a bunch of offices all within several blocks. Castagna and Sel Gris have always been able to draw from Ladd's Addition and the SE neighborhoods around them - sure helps on a rainy Tuesday night in February.

Lucier's customers have to drive there. And there's no foot traffic. No one is going to walk by and spur of the moment go, "Hmm, this looks good, honey...I'm hungry, let's try it!" Or let's try it next week. They're almost completely dependent on reviews and their own marketing machine and hype. None of which seemed very helpful to them. That's pretty hard to overcome even in the right market in the best of times.

We went to Gruner last night. As good as it was and as professional as the service was, it felt like a mom and pop place. We saw the owner. The staff looked like they cared about the place, not just their jobs. We'll go back because we had a terrific experience, but also because it feels like a family there. That's what loyalty is all about. It's how you get repeat customers.

I think with a place like Lucier, that never really develops. So in lieu of repeat customers, they need to survive by getting in a large number of customers who are going for that special, dazzling experience, if only on special occasions. Setting aside for a minute whether or not Lucier actually provided that, the fact remains that in New York or Chicago or L.A. there are enough people who will do that to support a restaurant. I think in Portland there aren't, especially considering the nature of Portland residents. Lucier came to define ostentation, and Portlanders are, for the most part, a group that tends to shun ostentation. For better or worse (better, IMO).
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#662 ExtraMSG

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 05:05 PM

It was all a huge contrivance, whereas Sel Gris and Castagna grew out of the talents and souls of their Chefs and owners, all of whom with long and distinguished pedigrees in the food world. They had all paid their dues and the food they produce springs from a very real and burnished love for what they do.


False. It's a loose connection to Spaghetti Factory because the only connection was the money. It wasn't the same concept, the same management team, the same chef -- anything but the money. The same owners also have the Penner-Ash winery and vineyards. Why not emphasize that connection?

What's the difference between Sel Gris and Lucier? Just size and the expense of the build-out, really. Sel Gris was not Mondok's restaurant anymore than Lucier was Chureau's. In fact, I bet Chureau had a bigger part in Lucier's orginal inception. Mondok was the second chef chosen for Lucier after things fell apart with Janice (of Tanuki). The Sel Gris owners are out-of-towners with much the same goal as the Dussin's: make a chic restaurant doing chic food.

Lucier had and has no soul and no love. They were a corporate decision to start with. And now a corporate decision in rebirth.


See, this is bull. It's as much likely that this was a dream of the Dussins, local wine lovers with the cash to make their dream a reality, as anything. It's UNlikely that it was a corporate endeavor. Another Spaghetti Factory would be the smart money, the corporate decision. And you never went there and have little basis for your belief except that big and expensive = soulless and loveless. You're prejudiced.

What Ken said.


Very appropriate since neither of you went there.

I disagree that roulette is an apt analogy. We are talking about experienced managers who had four mil to work with. If that doesn't change the odds I would really like to learn what would. And the economic downturn argument ignores the observable reality that plenty of other places which weren't nearly as well funded have survived--and, frankly, more credit to each and every one of them.


They also had the most expensive financing/lease cost to pay in town, a huge staff, and a big room to fill. They also had the most expensive ingredients of any restaurant. They could have stayed open, from what I understand, bleeding money while never more than half-full. They made a choice to cut their losses, acknowledging that things weren't going to get better, hopefully doing a reset later-on. Every business takes some good fortune, no matter who's in charge. Even Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have failures attached to their names.

It also seems to me that the vitally interesting message of the Portland food scene is that eating well can be part of everyday life. (In fact it will have to become this for the country as a whole before we can overcome our obesity epidemic. Different discussion.) The whole Lucier-temple-of-gastronomy approach reinforces the popular notion that an emphasis on eating well is somehow elitist. What does it tell you when the same people are responsible for Lucier and Fenwee on the one hand and slops-and-corn-syrup spag factory on the other? We'd be no worse off without any of them.


Populist prejudice. You don't like fancy restaurants because they're fancy. Why don't you and Ken go on a pizza thread and tell everyone that pizza sucks and that all pizzerias should be razed in a storm of fiery hail? It'd be as cogent. You might as well be vegans critiquing BBQ.

Regardless of the state of the economy, Lucier, aside from being expensive, had two things working agianst it; a chef without street cred, and a concept that spoke to a demographic that Portland really doesn't have. Add to that a design that was bordering on garish. My impression of Lucier was akin to a lottery winner that spends the winnings on things like gold-plated bathroom fixtures, and indoor swimming grottos. Portland is by and large a conservative community, and anything that smacks of Dubai excess is going to be rejected.


I think that's a fair assessment, especially the latter part. Although, I wouldn't say "conservative" is the right word. "Populist" might be more accurate. I think had you brought in anyone less than Thomas Keller or Gordon Ramsay, it would have seen a large amount of backlash. And even with those two, it probably would have still failed. But now we know the answer to that question a lot of food lovers in Portland had asked many times: can Portland support true upscale dining, as found in cities like New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Paris? The answer is no.

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#663 chefken

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 05:41 PM

Damn, Nick, you're supposed to be doing PR for us, not them. :rolleyes:

Your knee-jerk reaction reveals as much prejudice as you're accusing everyone else of. It's an opinion, and as valid as yours. Except we didn't go all personal on you. I thought you had eliminated that when you took most of the balls out of this site?

You equate Lucier with "true" upscale dining. That's how you see it. But again, you miss the point in that it's possible - and the reaction to Lucier may in fact be a demonstration of this - that Portland has redefined "true" upscale dining. Or maybe has a least redefined it as far as Portland is concerned. What you consider "true" may in fact be an incredibly small province reserved for the very rich and the wannabes and poseurs. Maybe you should call it the "pretentious" upscale dining. Or "contrived" upscale dining. Because IMO not much about places like you're describing rings "true."

It's not populism. I like places like Le Pigeon, Castagna, Sel Gris (may it rest in peace), Murata, Beaker and Flask, Clyde, and as of last night, Gruner. Are these "populist places," with dinner for two running $100-150? Not by most definitions. But to me, they're the more "true" upscale dining.

See, what you're not getting is that it doesn't matter if the Dussins are really not big corporate types, or not much different, really, that the Sel Gris People. It doesn't matter if this is their dream and not at all like the Spaghetti Factory, or if they watch football in their T-shirts on Sundays. It's about perception, and the whole Lucier thing, from the building to how they hired their staff to the thing with the sommelier to the start up cost to the marketing to the design, ad nauseum, reads as corporate. If you can't see the difference between what Sel Gris or Castagna or Le Pigeon then you're blinded by the world you'd like to see to the one you actually live in.
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#664 ExtraMSG

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:43 PM

Your knee-jerk reaction reveals as much prejudice as you're accusing everyone else of. It's an opinion, and as valid as yours. Except we didn't go all personal on you. I thought you had eliminated that when you took most of the balls out of this site?


Valid as much as mine -- except that you hadn't eaten at Lucier (or Sel Gris, correct?), whereas I ate at it (and Sel Gris) multiple times.

See, what you're not getting


I was responding to what you and Laksa said. Now you're just changing the goalposts, but in a way that doesn't disagree with what I said. I specifically said that it was the ostentatiousness that people objected to. I pointed out that substantively, places like Sel Gris, which had almost universal acclaim, are/were no more "soulful", no better executed. People were being superficial. Not liking something because it's too fancy is no different from not liking something because it's not fancy enough. There's no difference between the person who complains about hipsters at Bunk from the person who complains about people in jackets and ties at Lucier. And saying that a place isn't good before you've tried it based on such populist perceptions IS prejudiced. It's pre-judging, judging without sufficient cause or evidence.

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

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#665 chefken

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 09:27 PM

Your knee-jerk reaction reveals as much prejudice as you're accusing everyone else of. It's an opinion, and as valid as yours. Except we didn't go all personal on you. I thought you had eliminated that when you took most of the balls out of this site?


Valid as much as mine -- except that you hadn't eaten at Lucier (or Sel Gris, correct?), whereas I ate at it (and Sel Gris) multiple times.

See, what you're not getting


I was responding to what you and Laksa said. Now you're just changing the goalposts, but in a way that doesn't disagree with what I said. I specifically said that it was the ostentatiousness that people objected to. I pointed out that substantively, places like Sel Gris, which had almost universal acclaim, are/were no more "soulful", no better executed. People were being superficial. Not liking something because it's too fancy is no different from not liking something because it's not fancy enough. There's no difference between the person who complains about hipsters at Bunk from the person who complains about people in jackets and ties at Lucier. And saying that a place isn't good before you've tried it based on such populist perceptions IS prejudiced. It's pre-judging, judging without sufficient cause or evidence.


I never said that Lucier wasn't good. I never said it's too "fancy", whatever that means. Do you actually read these posts before you answer?
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#666 Laksa

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:06 PM

Populism is pandering to popular opinion. Popular opinion is that eating well is elitist. Lucier's very existence reinforces that belief. I celebrate Portland's food culture because it is helping to remove the elitist quality to eating well. So I would like to argue that whatever else I may be guilty of, it isn't populist prejudice.

Also, as I think I argued before, you don't have to actually eat at a restaurant before you are entitled to dislike it. If the restaurant's marketing material strikes you as condescending and dishonest you are free to dislike them for it. Maybe the food is good or even great--well bravo. That much they got right. If other aspects of the experience don't work for you you are free to keep your cash in your pocket regardless. And also say why.

And please don't confuse Lucier with upscale. The little upscale dining I've done has always featured comparatively modest decor and total emphasis on the food. Lucier's interior was horribly glitzy by comparison, in fact it did the potentially stunning space a huge disservice. It was wannabe upscale at best.

#667 JandJ

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 12:35 AM

Populism is pandering to popular opinion. Popular opinion is that eating well is elitist. Lucier's very existence reinforces that belief. I celebrate Portland's food culture because it is helping to remove the elitist quality to eating well. So I would like to argue that whatever else I may be guilty of, it isn't populist prejudice.

Also, as I think I argued before, you don't have to actually eat at a restaurant before you are entitled to dislike it. If the restaurant's marketing material strikes you as condescending and dishonest you are free to dislike them for it. Maybe the food is good or even great--well bravo. That much they got right. If other aspects of the experience don't work for you you are free to keep your cash in your pocket regardless. And also say why.

And please don't confuse Lucier with upscale. The little upscale dining I've done has always featured comparatively modest decor and total emphasis on the food. Lucier's interior was horribly glitzy by comparison, in fact it did the potentially stunning space a huge disservice. It was wannabe upscale at best.


Well, one thing you sure have is a lot of strong opinions. This being the Internet, I guess you have plenty of company there. Yet, you say you've never eaten at the restaurant. Have you even been there and seen the interior first hand, or are we once again listening to another long and loud stream of invective about something you've simply read about and love to criticize. One thing this restaurant definitely brings out is plenty of opinions, and unfortunately, many, if not most, are unsubstantiated by any first hand experience. My tendency is to completely dismiss all of your comments (unless you have really seen the interior first hand) since they're colored by an almost irrational bitterness towards the concept, food, owners, and just about anything else concerned with the restaurant. And, you're prepared to completely dismiss a new concept without any idea whatsoever what it looks like or who's in the kitchen.

Sorry, but what a complete load of BS.

#668 jmatt

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 04:30 AM

Populism is pandering to popular opinion. Popular opinion is that eating well is elitist. Lucier's very existence reinforces that belief. I celebrate Portland's food culture because it is helping to remove the elitist quality to eating well. So I would like to argue that whatever else I may be guilty of, it isn't populist prejudice.

Also, as I think I argued before, you don't have to actually eat at a restaurant before you are entitled to dislike it. If the restaurant's marketing material strikes you as condescending and dishonest you are free to dislike them for it. Maybe the food is good or even great--well bravo. That much they got right. If other aspects of the experience don't work for you you are free to keep your cash in your pocket regardless. And also say why.

And please don't confuse Lucier with upscale. The little upscale dining I've done has always featured comparatively modest decor and total emphasis on the food. Lucier's interior was horribly glitzy by comparison, in fact it did the potentially stunning space a huge disservice. It was wannabe upscale at best.


Well, one thing you sure have is a lot of strong opinions. This being the Internet, I guess you have plenty of company there. Yet, you say you've never eaten at the restaurant. Have you even been there and seen the interior first hand, or are we once again listening to another long and loud stream of invective about something you've simply read about and love to criticize. One thing this restaurant definitely brings out is plenty of opinions, and unfortunately, many, if not most, are unsubstantiated by any first hand experience. My tendency is to completely dismiss all of your comments (unless you have really seen the interior first hand) since they're colored by an almost irrational bitterness towards the concept, food, owners, and just about anything else concerned with the restaurant. And, you're prepared to completely dismiss a new concept without any idea whatsoever what it looks like or who's in the kitchen.

Sorry, but what a complete load of BS.


Great post. I don't think I'd even ever eat at Lucier, but the weird invective towards the place is just too funny. Who cares, really?

And Nick's right too, IMO.

#669 Amanda

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 07:56 AM

Welcome to the Nick, Ken, & Laksa SnitFest.

Everyone makes good points. Nick is right about this being someone's vision of something more for Portland. It seemed like it could really be something special and they did care about making great and interesting food. But Ken is also right in that the general perception of Lucier in this city was that it was soul-less. The food was excellent, however, you definitely have to get customers in the door first and if you aren't successful of that because people are turned off by the image, then what are you going to do?

I'd be great foot traffic for Lucier on nights I have dragon boat practice. I doubt they'd let my wet, sweaty self in there though. I don't think that's the type of clientele they are looking for. In Portland you can go almost anywhere wearing almost anything, and though one of our servers at Lucier the time I went said there was no real dress code, it always seemed intimidating to me before I went in there. It never felt like they were catering to "real" people. I thought if I dressed ordinary and walked in the place I'd be looked down upon. Instead when I went I was pleasantly surprised to feel very welcome. I now say don't diss it till you give it a real chance. Armchair dining can't tell it like it is - only what it seems like it might be. I was that way, too before I tried it. I can't defend its image or the perception people have of it, but I can defend the food and the ambience to some degree.

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#670 chefken

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 08:09 AM

And Nick's right too, IMO.


Actually, not really. The thing is, since this thread restarted no one has really said that Lucier sucks or the food wasn't good or it wasn't pretty or anything else on a qualitative basis. I was reacting to Nick trying to make the case that the reaction to Lucier was and is unfair as no one has that kind of reaction to Sel Gris or Castagna or other places that may be doing food like Lucier. And that misses the point that there's a perception that Lucier is a certain type of restaurant and organization that Portland - for the most part - disdains.

Does it matter that some parts of what people are reacting to may not, in fact, be accurate? No, because perception is everything, and Lucier did a bad job in countering the perception that they were all about conspicuous consumption. In fact, they promoted that perception. And that is what Portlanders reacted to. And that is why it doesn't matter if someone tried them or not to form an opinion about whether they will respond well to the whole experience. The food may have been fabulous, and the design gorgeous. It doesn't matter a whit if people find the prospect of going there offensive. And they're right - as far as they're concerned. It doesn't matter if a Hummer drives well or is cool looking - there's a significant part of the population that wouldn't step foot in one if you paid them. I suspect those are the same folks who wouldn't go into Lucier.

The owners of Lucier made a huge misjudgment - They (presumably) looked at what Portlanders like and dislike, as well as the economic climate at the time they opened, and they said the hell with it, we're going to do what we want and (presumably) we have deep enough pockets to ride it out until both change. Their choice. But you can't blame Portlanders for being Portlanders, or judging them for rejecting something that appears to be something they disdain.

What's the difference between Lucier and Sel Gris or Castagna? Nick's right in that the food isn't all that different, and you can drop about as much dough at any of them. But the perception is that Lucier was big, and corporate, and garish, and dressy, and intimidating, and a temple of conspicuous consumption in a time when people were losing their jobs. Was it all these things? It doesn't matter - the perception is that it was, and the owners did nothing to counter that perception. And that's why they closed. Sel Gris and Castagna feel like neighborhood, chef-owned places where everyone knows your name. That's why people go there.
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#671 Angelhair

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 08:40 AM

What's the difference between Lucier and Sel Gris or Castagna?


Big is the operative word here, and chef-driven.

Lucier is/was huge and there seemed to be no tangible connection with the food and the chef behind it. Haven't been to the new Castagna, but at Sel Gris, you knew who was preparing your food (with a firey stare, even) because he was right in front of you. The next issue of Portland Monthly has a write-up of Castagna and half the article is about the new chef and where he's been, not the food he's making.

Both Castagna and Sel Gris are small, intimate spaces as well. Lucier, to me, seemed vast in comparison with its soaring ceilings and outdoor seating.

#672 Laksa

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 11:01 AM

Well, one thing you sure have is a lot of strong opinions. This being the Internet, I guess you have plenty of company there. Yet, you say you've never eaten at the restaurant. Have you even been there and seen the interior first hand, or are we once again listening to another long and loud stream of invective about something you've simply read about and love to criticize. One thing this restaurant definitely brings out is plenty of opinions, and unfortunately, many, if not most, are unsubstantiated by any first hand experience. My tendency is to completely dismiss all of your comments (unless you have really seen the interior first hand) since they're colored by an almost irrational bitterness towards the concept, food, owners, and just about anything else concerned with the restaurant. And, you're prepared to completely dismiss a new concept without any idea whatsoever what it looks like or who's in the kitchen.

Sorry, but what a complete load of BS.


Yes I did look at the decor. I loved the building and the site. But the interior, not so much. It struck me exactly as Fenwee's decor struck me when I first got an eyeful--overdone, showy, and out of context. (Hint: when you have a restaurant space in a contemporary building, you don't do it up French Provincial style. Interior decor 101.) I seem to recall some kind of hideous pendant glass sculptures (pardon the redundancy) as well as the water hazard.

Actually the more I ponder it the more completely stupid the whole Lucier-let-them-eat-cake thing seems, its fortunes paralleling those of the Dubya presidency exactly. What galled me the most was that it appropriated Portland's genuinely cool groundswell of popular interest in good food for its own essentially reactionary (make money and flatter the rich) purposes. That is where I locate the real BS here.

#673 Quo Vadis

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 11:16 AM

I've often wondered at the passionate hatred people can have for restaurants.

If you walk by an Armani store you will see a store filled with people who cater to conspicuous consumption. You will see a store filled with things that the average person cannot afford. You will see items of clothing that cost more than your vehicle.

But rarely if ever will you then go on the internet to rail against the store's existence. You are unlikely to wish the store to fail because you are not it's target customer. I strongly assert that one is unlikely to loudly and publicly proclaim via anonymous internet presence that the goods therein are total bullshit and the owners are stupid and the salespeople incompetent though you've never had contact with the people of tried on their product.

I am not calling anyone in particular out on this thread with this post. I'm just reflecting on somethign that I've always found a bit odd and since this post is active again I reread some of it and now find it still odder.

Also, this post is not to be taken as any kind of swipe against Armani. I happen to love Armani.
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#674 Ben Waterhouse

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 02:15 PM

I never went to Lucier for dinner, but the press lunch was one of the worst I've ever attended. It was over three hours long, and every dish was an obnoxious cacophony of warring flavors, like a compilation of LA restaurant trends from the last ten years. It wasn't good (though the wine was fantastic). But I don't think Lucier's biggest problem was the lousy food, which I assume improved with time, or the prices (which, no matter what Nick says, were definitely higher than those at Sel Gris—not a lot higher, but higher nonetheless), but locale and decor.

Beyond the foot-traffic issues already mentioned, the space was decorated in hilariously poor taste. The marble wall with bas-relief nudes, the gold-nugget bartender's hovel, the bathrooms that looked like Darth Vader's meditation chamber and, most of all, the moat—all these made it impossible to be comfortable in the space. How do you enjoy your dinner when you can't shake the feeling that you're on the set of one of those "fake restaurant" ads by Carl's Junior?

The basic problem the new Lucier will have to overcome is one of prejudice: the space looks tony enough to scare off the non-wealthy but too tacky to attract the Bluehour crowd. I don't think a dislike of any whif of corporatism is really the issue—just look at Portland City Grill, where people wait in line to sit in bleacher-like tables and drink $10 cocktails.

If the rebooted restaurant is to succeed, I think the management will have to ditch the water feature, the nugget and the Chihulys and maybe get some curtains to deemphasize the mirrored pillars and marble wall. Let the view work for the restaurant by removing the distractions, institute a good happy hour at the bar to bring in the post-work crowd, and make sure the food's ready before you bring in the press. I wish the Dussins well—I hope it works out better this time.

#675 Laksa

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 02:25 PM

I've often wondered at the passionate hatred people can have for restaurants.

If you walk by an Armani store you will see a store filled with people who cater to conspicuous consumption. You will see a store filled with things that the average person cannot afford. You will see items of clothing that cost more than your vehicle.

But rarely if ever will you then go on the internet to rail against the store's existence. You are unlikely to wish the store to fail because you are not it's target customer. I strongly assert that one is unlikely to loudly and publicly proclaim via anonymous internet presence that the goods therein are total bullshit and the owners are stupid and the salespeople incompetent though you've never had contact with the people of tried on their product.

I am not calling anyone in particular out on this thread with this post. I'm just reflecting on somethign that I've always found a bit odd and since this post is active again I reread some of it and now find it still odder.

Also, this post is not to be taken as any kind of swipe against Armani. I happen to love Armani.


Could it be that Armani has taste and style?

#676 Laksa

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 03:37 PM

Beyond the foot-traffic issues already mentioned, the space was decorated in hilariously poor taste. The marble wall with bas-relief nudes, the gold-nugget bartender's hovel, the bathrooms that looked like Darth Vader's meditation chamber and, most of all, the moat—all these made it impossible to be comfortable in the space. How do you enjoy your dinner when you can't shake the feeling that you're on the set of one of those "fake restaurant" ads by Carl's Junior?

The basic problem the new Lucier will have to overcome is one of prejudice: the space looks tony enough to scare off the non-wealthy but too tacky to attract the Bluehour crowd. I don't think a dislike of any whif of corporatism is really the issue—just look at Portland City Grill, where people wait in line to sit in bleacher-like tables and drink $10 cocktails.

If the rebooted restaurant is to succeed, I think the management will have to ditch the water feature, the nugget and the Chihulys and maybe get some curtains to deemphasize the mirrored pillars and marble wall. Let the view work for the restaurant by removing the distractions, institute a good happy hour at the bar to bring in the post-work crowd, and make sure the food's ready before you bring in the press. I wish the Dussins well—I hope it works out better this time.


Ye Gawds. I had no idea. Case closed. If you can wish the Dussins well after enduring that dreck for three hours, then I will too. Respect.

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#677 Twohearted

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 04:37 PM

I've often wondered at the passionate hatred people can have for restaurants.

If you walk by an Armani store you will see a store filled with people who cater to conspicuous consumption. You will see a store filled with things that the average person cannot afford. You will see items of clothing that cost more than your vehicle.

But rarely if ever will you then go on the internet to rail against the store's existence. You are unlikely to wish the store to fail because you are not it's target customer. I strongly assert that one is unlikely to loudly and publicly proclaim via anonymous internet presence that the goods therein are total bullshit and the owners are stupid and the salespeople incompetent though you've never had contact with the people of tried on their product.

I am not calling anyone in particular out on this thread with this post. I'm just reflecting on somethign that I've always found a bit odd and since this post is active again I reread some of it and now find it still odder.

Also, this post is not to be taken as any kind of swipe against Armani. I happen to love Armani.


I'm not sure the analogy between the clothing industry and the food industry is a good one. For example, one might argue that food is more personal than clothing. The rise of Food Network and the concept of the celebrity chef in this country has certainly brought food and dining to the forefront of mainstream consciousness. But the Internet certainly has given a venue for the most obnoxious contingent of our species to spout off.

Anyways, reading this thread makes me think that people hated this restaurant mostly because it was aiming to be at the expensive end of restaurants in Portland and they felt the establishment was over-reaching. The thing about Portland that continually amazes me is that you just hardly ever see entree prices over $30 (unless it's something unusual or inherently expensive). I sent my friends in Boston and Washington DC the menu from Laurelhurst and each of their first responses were "wow those are great prices for steak!". Also, the fact that I can literally go into any restaurant here with blue jeans on is a little unusual I think. Portland does indeed like the little guy and that means small operations selling cheap to moderately priced food that is locally sourced. Considering the other places I've lived and the places I've been to, this is unusual (not in a bad way).

Personally, I won't shy away from trying a new place (new to me at least). If the food is good and I don't feel it's overpriced, then it'll just be another place to compete for my stomach's desires and my dollah billz. Maybe a "fancy restaurant" is something most Portlanders will hate, but I sure don't. In fact, I think the anti-"fancy restaurant" sentiment, for better or for worse, will help prevent chefs of the Michelin star caliber from coming to Portland.

#678 JandJ

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 07:21 PM

+1 to QV's and Twohearted's posts. Frankly, I find Laksa continuing invective to be a lot more pretentious than anything Lucier had to offer at its worst. It also is amazing to me how a restaurant... even a concept for one, could raise so much negative emotion, and on a continuing basis. Portland has a vibrant food scene, but anyone doing research and visiting the blogs who might be considering bringing a Michelin starred quality restaurant to Portland would have to be thinking twice and a few times more about it.

There seems to be a built-in resistance to a restaurant here of the ilk of say Daniel or Per Se here. I'd like to think that a chef with serious chops might overcome it, but I'm not so sure. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I've read too many posts with bitter undertones like some of those here to think that it would be a no brainer for such a concept to succeed without the huge backlash that we saw with Lucier. Granted, Lucier wasn't in that class... not even close. The real question is whether the restaurant would have been successful and without so much of the negativity had it been led by a chef with a strong reputation and a proven track record. Not so sure.

#679 ExtraMSG

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:55 PM

http://pdx.eater.com...over-lucier.php

Looks like the space that was once home to Lucier, one of the most hotly-debated (and pricey) restaurants in recent history, might be landing in the hands of Lark Creek Restaurant Group — a well-respected and ever-growing restaurant company based out of San Francisco, CA. Starting in '89 with the Lark Creek Inn, the LCRG has grown into a portfolio of 12 restaurants including San Francisco's stellar One Market Restaurant; Bradley Ogden at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas; and Fish Story in Napa.


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


#680 SarahWS

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 08:48 PM

I got to try Fish Story over Thanksgiving and if we're lucky enough to get something equally good, I'd be very very excited. Stephen Barber was given a very nice playground by the Lark Creek Inn group, so I'm hoping it's another chef-led venture like Fish Story. I'll post about the dinner at Fish Story when I have time, but it was a great meal.