The decision to eat at Café Luc was the result of a Twitter question on “where to go for a dinner à deux?”. Having been regailed endlessly in 140 characters about the joys of their Steak Tartare (possibly my favourite French dish) I felt an insurpassable urge to try it out. Well, despite the rave reviews – which I admit came largely from their PR Agency (hey, it’s what we do!), I came away a tad disappointed. Suffice to say, the steak tartare was good. That’s it. OK, nice looking, tasty enough, but unmoving in any way. And lacking slightly in seasoning.
But let’s start at the beginning. I am in full on “Big Bang Theory” Obsession (with capital O) right now – the best thing on celluloid since The West Wing, satisfying every nerdy, intellectual scientific itch I ever had with a script crafted from lyrical gold. Cafe Luc, however, was not quite so elaborate in its poetry.
The interiors are delightful. A giant luminous ball glows above the central atrium, the atmosphere is buzzing. The staff are so efficient they brought the Steak Tartare out twice (there is such a thing as overdose of tartare!) – and we did get free bubbly – my ego would like to think this was because they’d been warned I was coming, but it may well just have been to inebriate us so I wouldn’t notice the tartare just wasn’t very exciting.
A. was on top form (and is finally revealed – see photo!), opening with his “I am your father, Luc” gag, and moving swiftly on to suggest I wear a carrot on my head to disguise my current dodgy hairdo. The cold affects us in mysterious ways. A. had the mini tartare as a starter. You can have it “à la minute”, which means they bring it “deconstructed”, and offer to mix it all together for you. Sadly, they don’t do this at the table, but run away with your plate and come running out again with a sort of “here’s one we mashed earlier”. I opted to do mine myself which was oodles of fun – there’s nothing quite like food you can play with.
He followed this with roast partridge stuffed with foie gras. The foie gras was in fact a piece of meltingly tender liver, barely cooked and sweet and fatty as hell. Divine – by a long shot the highlight of the meal. We accompanied this with an glass of Chinon which displayed some lovely blackcurranty aromas and a light, but refreshingly fruity palate. I had a Crab Tian which came interestingly decorated with two squiggles
that looked like giant spermatozoids. It wouldn’t have been my plate decoration of choice, and I’m still unsure what they were flavoured with but the tian was creamy and crabby and rich and nicely presented. Cafe Luc sources excellent meat for its steak tartare, the same suppliers as Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. But no matter how exquisite the meat is, I still like my tartare to taste of the other ingredients it contains… the crunch of onions, the salty piquant of capers. This would be a bomb of a steak tartarte if they just upped the seasonings and ingredient doses a smidgen!
But there was free champagne. And who can say no to free Champagne?