You have good reasons to go to a restaurant that’s solid as a rock. They’ll cook your steak just the way you like it, serve your favorite Pinot Noir at the exact right temperature, and kiss your wife on the cheek on your way out. By all definitions, Lucques fits that bill. This restaurant is about as solid as it gets. But before you go and book a table, remember that, when held up next to seashells or diamonds, rocks are pretty boring. And when held up next to the best restaurants in Los Angeles right now, so is Lucques.
Located right at Melrose and La Cienega, Lucques is one of those places you’ve probably heard a lot about, even if you’ve never been. Since 1998, anyone who’s anyone has gone to Lucques to take meetings, glare at clients, and sip wine quietly at lunch while sticking needles into voodoo dolls. It’s an industry spot, but unlike the party atmospheres of places like Dan Tana’s or Giorgio Baldi, Lucques just feels like nap time.
Walking through Lucques’ wooden doors feels like you’re walking into an old French provincial home in the hills - but one that’s been on the market for a few years. There’s a big brick fireplace, exposed wooden beams, and a back patio with all-weather carpet that doesn’t need to be there. Lucques’ interior is certainly welcoming and well-kept, but there’s also nothing unique or personable about any of the details. It’s as if the goal was to create a pretty space for lawyers to stare at distantly while they eat nicely-cooked halibut with their coworkers. And if it was, that goal has been achieved.
You will eat fine food at Lucques. But you will also eat food that you can find in any restaurant you’ve been to in the last 10 years: citrus salads, scallops, steak tartare, and a bunch of meaty entrees that go well with a side of broccolini. Lucques caters to people who are at their most comfortable knowing nothing surprising will hit the table, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these dishes. You’ll get good service, talk about how much you enjoyed the free bread, finish most of your braised chicken, and be home in time to light an oil diffuser and stare at your phone for a few hours. That’s not a terrible night, but it’s also not one you’re going to remember in a few days.
That’s our core issue with the place: there’s no reason why Lucques can’t be solid as a rock and also interesting at the same time. And this is coming from someone who had an extensive gravel collection growing up.
Lucques’ menu changes regularly. Here are the highlights from our last visit.
This is a solid soup, especially if you’ve been dealing with a seasonal cough for the last two months. But we definitely could’ve used more of a kick from the curry.
Our favorite dish on the menu. The toast itself is thick and crunchy and the melted soppressata on top almost makes it feel like pizza.
The scallop itself is cooked well. Our issue is that the smoked bacon in the risotto overpowered it so much that we forgot it was scallop dish.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this salad. Fresh citrus, a big hunk of burrata, and the needed crunch from the pistachios on top. The issue is that it’s currently being served at every restaurant in town.
The cucumber and romesco salad situation underneath the halibut is the only reason this dish is remotely memorable.
There’s a reason this is the only dish that remains on Lucques menu, even during seasonal changeover - it’s very good. If we could jar up the potato puree hiding underneath it, we would. And it would sell very well.