Thursday, October 15, 2009

Restaurant Review- Lucio's

I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite some time. Part of the reason is that I stopped eating out for awhile and have been busy with other tasks. In eating out less I would often settle on old favorites instead of venture into the unknown. Yesterday I went to Lucio’s, the first new place I’ve eaten at in quite some time on a friends recommendation.

It was a last second decision as sushi was going to be the fare of choice. He asked for a rain check and so I suggested the BYOB Lucio’s. I mistakenly assumed that because of the BYOB tag the restaurant would run in the $10-15 range. The entrees are more in the $20-30 with appetizers and salads running in the $8-12 range.
The décor is nice, but not overly fancy. White tables and dimly lit dining room with works done by independent artists along the walls (all for sale). When thinking of a phrase to describe it I would go with modestly fancy. The waiter was very friendly and congenial; which to me is the sign of a good things going on in the kitchen. We debated over the vanilla bean crab cakes with mango salsa or the calamari, and decided to choose the calamari. The bread served beforehand isn’t fancy but it’s served extremely warm and the crust is slightly crispy. It’s the theme of this place not too fancy but executed beautifully.

The calamari was served with two sauces. The first was a marinara sauce with cheese melted inside. The sauce was just how a marinara sauce should be. The tomatoes aren’t acidic but full flavored, spiced with a little oregano and the melted cheese adding some heartiness without being overpowering. The second sauce is olive oil (I believe) and butter with garlic and some sort of pepper called peppercini which based on my limited research is very similar to a banana pepper. The flavor is spicy enough to remember what it taste like but again all the flavors are beautifully balanced. The reason I loved it so much was the stark contrast between the two sauces gives you two different taste experiences. The hardiness and full bodied marinara contrasted with the light and spicy peppercini sauce.

For entrees Thomas selected a scallop dish with butternut squash risotto and port reduction. His dish was as it should be. The scallops were perfectly seared and left soft in the middle. The risotto was accompanied by two shrimp and the port sauce was on open plate throughout the dish. To cook truly good food the entire dish must marry together and it’s something I rarely see in Houston, but here the entire dish was buttery and light. None of the flavors overpowered, but all contributed to a spectacular flavor. I was disappointed to only try a bite.

I went with the bone-in pork chop after much deliberation. I was brought a pork chop wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with duxelle (mushrooms, shallots, herbs and butter) accompanied with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage. It was amazing. The prosciutto wrapped on the outside was crisped leaving the inside moist and stuffed with a beautiful duxelle. The cabbage was muted with a tinge of sour and served to cleanse the pallet. The potatoes were excellent when paired with the pork. Buttered and creamy, but not overpowering.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better meal in Houston. It was excellent and yet simple. As great food always is. I highly recommend it.

Here is where it is located

The Restaurant website

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