{Restaurant Review} Luce, San Francisco

Well, hey there, fancy eater! It’s been a while, huh? What, two weeks? Have you been feeling a bit food porn deprived? Well, I’m here now. It’s all going to be okay because Luce has beautiful plating in spades.

Every Christmas my friends and I would get together and do a Secret Santa gift exchange. This year in lieu of gifts we decided to have a nice dinner, and that brought us to Luce. The only thing better than good food is good food shared with great people!

1-bread
Obligatory bread and butter shot. I think I really will make a page on this site dedicated to Michelin starred bread and butter.

We started off dinner with savory madeleines. I believe these were cheddar and chive. What made these interesting is that they weren’t entirely savory. They had a bit of a sweetness to them that gave me pause. Overall, they were good, but I’ve had better.

2-amuse
fresh pea panna cotta

This was such a fun amuse bouche. The fresh pea flavor was strong, yet the whole dish was pretty delicate with hints of citrus and basil. I loved the mix of textures with the panna cotta and whatever those crunchy things were. Sorry, I don’t remember.

3b-salmon
wild king salmon belly confit, beets & bartlett pear, creme fraiche

Kinda looks like someone messed up on the plating and didn’t wipe it, huh? Surprisingly, this was one of my favorites. It’s surprising because salmon isn’t my favorite fish. I like it well enough, but if given a choice, I wouldn’t choose it. Cooking it confit style made it literally melt in your mouth. I actually liked the pairing of the beets and pears with the grainy mustard. Again, it surprised me.

Also, this is what dinner with my girls is like – loud. Fortunately, the restaurant was mostly empty (I suspect since it was the day after Christmas), and our servers were awesomely friendly.

 

4-pear
celery root roasted with coffee, almond mousse, pear, sage

This one was so light and mild, and the almond mousse was creamy and thin enough to be a soup. If they called this cream of pear soup, I would have believed them. The coffee was fairly subtle, and out of everything on the plate, the pear was the predominant flavor. A nice intermezzo, but nothing very remarkable.

5-risotto
aged carnaroli rice risotto, crispy sweetbreads, burgundy truffle, pickled mushrooms

Another favorite, but I gravitate towards anything with truffles. In this case, the truffles were super mild – not at all what I’m accustomed to. The risotto was flavorful and had bite to it, but the star was the sweetbreads. Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, I was most surprised by these, so they were the winner of the dish for me.

6-honeydew soda
honeydew soda

Honeydew soda that looked and tasted like cantaloupe juice. Hmm. I know they’re pretty close, but I can usually tell the flavors apart. This definitely tasted like cantaloupe. As you can see, this was a hit.

I promised I would post those photos with the caption, “Shall I finish it?” There you go.

Also, you probably shouldn’t chug a fancy soda unless you want someone to point a camera at you and post your photo all over the internets. πŸ˜›

 

7-lobster
maine lobster poached in salted butter, strawberries in red vinegar, fennel, cucumber

Butter poached lobster, we meet again. Only this time paired with tangy strawberries and roasted fennel. I’m very much surprised that I didn’t mind the lobster here. Somehow they got the texture of the lobster to be closer to shrimp, which I enjoy much more than the texture of lobster. Can’t say the flavors amazed me, though.

8-lamb
roasted lamb loin, crispy lamb belly, pickled quince, brussels sprouts

This was the course I was most looking forward to, and unfortunately, it was the most disappointing for me. The loin was overdone (though I saw my friend’s photos and hers looked like it was a better temperature than mine) and the “crispy” belly wasn’t crispy. The lamb wasn’t gamey at all which actually made it taste a bit like beef. That could be a good thing, if you like beef, but it’s not a great thing if you love lamb. I liked the quince and pomegranates, but the brussels sprouts were pretty bland. The flavors were good, but it could have been better.

9-key lime
key lime

So descriptive, right? I believe this was a key lime curd with coconut cream and the tiniest little meringue you ever did see. I’m a big fan of citrus after dinner because it’s so light and refreshing, and I was definitely a fan of this.

 

10-chocolate
chocolate

Again, the descriptives are overwhelming. I want to say this was a milk chocolate tart with orange. It was good, not great, but that didn’t stop me from destroying it. If you put chocolate anywhere near me I’m going to eat it…all.

11-macaron

 

The final bite of the night was a tiny, little lemon macaron. It actually didn’t have all that much flavor, but it was a sweet little ending all the same.

So how does this place stack up to others in its category? Actually, I’m a bit torn here. The food was a step up in creativity and plating from some one starred spots *ahem*SPQR*ahem*, but the flavors and food quality were definitely lacking compared to others (Commis and The Village Pub come to mind). Β The service was great – super friendly, although a bit sneaky. They gave us some wine (and champagne to one friend) acting like it was on the house only for it to end up on the bill. I’ve heard of other restaurants doing this (only much worse), so I wasn’t too surprised. I’m starting to wonder if I’m expecting too much from restaurants with one Michelin star. Perhaps I should stick to two stars and above. The hubs isn’t going to like that. πŸ˜‰

My favorite local Michelin spots so far:

An amateur foodie's take on Manresa in Los Gatos, CA. Restaurant review and food photos.Β An amateur foodie's take on The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. REstaurant review and food photos.Β A casual foodie's take on newly minted three Michelin starred Benu in San Francisco.Β 

For a full list of Sf Bay Area Michelin restaurants, go here:

San Fracisco Bay Afrea Michelin List. SF Michelin Guide.

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26 Comments

  1. This restaurant looks so amazing! Lemon macarons are my absolute FAVORITE! I’m visiting LA and Anaheim this May but San Francisco is definitely on my list when I visit California again <3
    Angelic Sinova recently posted…Travel Bucket List: Europe EditionMy Profile

  2. This is such a fabulous post! Not only because of the review of LUCE but because the photos are absolutely delectable! I want to go there now! But I will wait for a special occasion. Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚
    Cara (@StylishGeek) recently posted…Be Your Own Barista!My Profile

    • Thank you! It’s a great spot for a spacial occasion. If you let them know ahead of time, they’ll do a little something special on your dessert.

  3. I have a feeling from the way you described everything there would be very little I would enjoy at that restaurant. Maybe the Honeydew soda that tasted like cantaloupe soda?
    Michele recently posted…$25 Amazon/PayPal-WW-Greed in Paradise-Deborah Brown-Ends 4/12My Profile

    • They do have a very specific style and tend to play on the sweet/savory pairings by adding fruit to a lot of dishes, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I have a friend who I know would have been quite unhappy here, too, because of that. The fun thing about food in general, though, is that there’s always something for everyone. πŸ™‚

  4. Wow this restaurant looks so fancy! I don’t think I’ve been to a place this nice since my son was born… 4 years ago lol πŸ˜‰ I would love to check this place out one day!
    Jamie | North of Something recently posted…Kid’s Travel Book Review: Scavenger Hunt AdventuresMy Profile

    • I does make it harder to get out to these places when there are littles involved. I will say that my girls haven’t been to any Michelin establishments yet. πŸ˜‰ One day! Not sure how far into the future it’ll be, but one day. πŸ˜›

  5. This was lovely. I loved the delicate look and elegant presentation. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful time with your friends and the food.

  6. Really? They acted like the drinks were free and then stuck them on the bill? UGH…yeah, the food “looks” good, but if it doesn’t taste GREAT, why bother?
    Sharon recently posted…3 Easy Ways to Revitalize Your FurnitureMy Profile

    • Yeah, two instances, actually. My friend joked that she’d take some free champagne (they had given me and the other birthday girl some), and the waiter said, “sure!” That glass ended up on the bill. Later the waiter told the other birthday girl he’d get her a glass of red to go with her lamb. She didn’t ask for it. He just offered. That glass also ended up on the bill. It was disappointing to see, but I wasn’t that surprised. I still love to go to these places because I find their plating and flavor combinations inspiring for my own cooking. Plus, you don’t know if a place is going to be great until you try, right? πŸ™‚

  7. Ok, my mouth is completely watering. Those madeleines and that pea panna cotta sound so delicious. I would also love the honeydew soda and the key lime pudding! YUM!
    Echo recently posted…For Me?! You Shouldn’t Have!My Profile

  8. That’s food porn if I ever saw one! That’s some gorgeous plating and looks like everybody had fun with the honeydew soda β€” are you sure it wasn’t spiked??
    Tanya Lara recently posted…Untangling BoholMy Profile

    • They really did a great job with the plating. You know, I have no idea if the soda was possibly spiked! πŸ˜› I’m sensitive to melon, so I didn’t finish mine. It’s entirely possible.

  9. Your photos have absolutely convinced me when I visit Cali one day I should hit up SF and check out LUCE, great food with awesome friends makes for a great night .

  10. ok…yummy!!! This restaurant looks absolutely fabulous, and I want to eat there now!!! Thanks for sharing girl!!

  11. Can I say, YUMMY! Love their foods and their presentation. Luce is surely a hit in San Francisco!
    Ron Leyba recently posted…Wanted To Make Your Brown Eyes Blue? It’s Now Possible in Just 20 Seconds! READ HOW!My Profile

  12. What a fun, fancy dinner!! Everything looks delicious. And now I’m hungry!!
    Ricci recently posted…Faux-tato SoupMy Profile

  13. That fresh pea panna cotta looks SOOOO good. I have never had anything like that before!
    Krystal recently posted…Blogger Handbag Essentials: Stress Less With These TipsMy Profile

    • The pea panna cotta was a fun dish. I’d love to try to make something like it myself!

  14. I am not sure that all of it was enjoyable, but from the look on your faces, it seems like you were all having a very good time together. I was glad to see that the chocolate dish was a hit since it was the birthday piece de resistance πŸ™‚
    Martine – MeUnfinished recently posted…WomanMy Profile

    • It wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had, food wise, but I really did have a lovely time with my girl friends. It’s always fun getting together with good friends!

  15. This makes me want to try it with my screen. I have always love cooking, I love the presentation of the LUCE. I want one!
    Manu Kalia recently posted…Shoulder Hand Behind Back MobilityMy Profile

    • Why, thank you! I consider trying to eat your screen the highest of praise. πŸ˜€

  16. Wow, these plates are absolutely gorgeous!! I still have yet to try truffle, and I’ve always wanted to, especially when I see them raved about all the time on my favorite cooking shows. πŸ™‚
    Bailey K. recently posted…Arches National Park – Moab, UtahMy Profile

    • Truffles are a pricey ingredient, which is why I think chefs are all about them. πŸ˜‰ They’re definitely a unique flavor, though, so I do recommend trying them whenever you get the chance! I love them.

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