Would we go back:
1624 Harmon Place
• Buckwheat Crepes with Brie de Meaux, Smoked Kentucky Ham and Figs $8.50 (shared)
• Sea Bass in Miso $22.00
• Wild Mushrooms Side $10.00 (shared)
• Artisan Cheese Plate $8.50
Surely one of the saddest days for Minneapolis was the closing of the Loring. I however, did not really care. I felt the Loring was way too expensive for what you got and really overrated. So while the rest of Minneapolis was crying over the loss, I was secretly excited hoping a new and better restaurant would open in its place. Besides, we still have the Loring Pasta Bar which is much better than the Loring ever was and you can get the artichoke ramekin there if you need it.
When I learned that D'amico and Sons owned Cafe Lurcat I had mixed emotions. I was hoping some rising star chef would buy the space and bring a cool chef driven restaurant. On the other hand, D'amico has been known for cultivating chefs and one more restaurant in their empire maybe is not a bad thing.
We ended up with early reservations when we called two days ahead they had nothing for prime time, so we arrived at 5:30 pm. As we walked in it felt like ten people pounced on us to take our coat, see if we had a reservation and seat us, it was quite frankly a bit intimidating. I am guessing that is not the normal experience, it was more likely just the early evening boredom. We got a great table, in fact I think it was the best table in the house right by the window overlooking the park. This is highly unusual for us (I am not sure we have ever got the best table), but we took it stride.
The appetizer we ordered was ok, all the ingredients were high quality that was easy to see so the price may have been justified, but they really didn't work together. For one the amazing brie was very overwhelmed with the other more powerful ingredients. Also it was not quite as hot as it should have been, in half of the crepe the cheese was nice and melty and on the other half it was not (I got the colder side). That aside, everything else was very good. The sea bass was amazing. It was done to absolute perfection the outside was caramelized and crunchy and the inside simply melted in your mouth. I seriously was in heaven the entire time I was eating it. The mushrooms we had as a side order were also wonderful. Nicely roasted, but not overly done, perfect. I had the cheese plate for dessert, a bit of a departure, but that amazing brie was on it and I simply wanted more. The cheese plate was very good, five different cheeses, with five unique tastes.
The one difficulty I had with the restaurant was the prices. Yes, all the ingredients were top notch. Yes, most of the preparations were perfect. Yes, I hate restaurants that serve you huge portions of low quality food and think they are doing a service. But I think Lurcat may be slightly on the other extreme. My sea bass was amazing, no doubt about it. However the piece was about the size of a deck of cards, did I need a bigger piece probably not, did I want one, yes and for $22 I expected a bit more. Even if they had thrown some veggies on the plate or rice, I might have been a bit happier. The mushrooms were similar, while there was a nice portion, they were priced at $10, which is quite a bit for a side dish and they were wild mushrooms and yes, I know how expensive wild mushrooms are, I still wanted them to be a bit less.
Overall we gave Lurcat a good rating. If the prices had been a bit more reasonable, let's say $18 on the fish and $7 on the mushrooms I would have gave it an excellent rating.
• Rack of Lamb w/ Bordelaise Sauce $26.00
• French Toast Brioche with Caramelized Bananas $6.00
Cafe Lurcat is one of those highly anticipated and highly attended restaurants, largely because of its location. It’s not only next to Loring Park, it also replaces the beloved Loring Cafe. Not that we were regular patrons of the Loring Cafe, but we do recommend going to the Loring Pasta Bar for the artichoke ramekin (yum!).
At Cafe Lurcat, I didn’t like the buckwheat crepe at all. Each of the ingredients was excellent by itself, but disastrous together. Renee was especially disappointed when the server suggested we eat the figs with the crepe to bring out the flavors of the crepe, because Renee thought that we should figure that out by ourselves. Personally, I thought the Brie was overpowered by the ham and crepe. Throwing the figs into the mix just exacerbated the confounding combination.
The rack of lamb tasted fantastic, tender and meaty. There was some extra fat, as to be expected from rack of lamb. The bordelaise sauce was a deep rich wine sauce that went well with the lamb. The shaved mushrooms on top were only topped by the roasted wild mushrooms side dish. Unfortunately, they were both on the expensive side, which keeps Cafe Lurcat from receiving an excellent rating. They are charging top dollar, and they deliver serviceable fare, but we were left wanting.
The French toast brioche with caramelized bananas was fun and refreshing, but nothing out-of-this-world. It’s a signature dessert for Cafe Lurcat that dozens of other restaurants could do just as well. It’s good, but it carries a low degree of difficulty.
About the decor: it’s nice, and it’s new. But as Renee reminded me, there are so many nice restaurants with nice decors that it means less to us at this point in time. It’s like we’ve been desensitized to tony restaurants. We have been spoiled in the Twin Cities by the cornucopia of new restaurants, so that at this point we often look past decor and focus on the food.
Valet and Street
$20 and up
December 27, 2003
1' on table