Luc, Corvallis' newest restaurant, opened last evening (a "soft" opening; the Grand Opening will be Wednesday, May 26th, probably with a revised menu). The creation of Ian Johnson, chef Ian Hutchings (formerly of the late-and-lamented Strega) and sommelier Adrienne Marler (formerly of Avalon), it's located in downtown Corvallis at 134 SW Fourth Street (phone 541-753-4171). They are open from Wednesday through Sunday, from 4:30pm to 9:00pm. The cuisine is American/Northwest.
Our party of six arrived at 6:30. The decor is restrained, the walls being painted a muted shade of blue. There is seating for about 40 customers. The tables normally accommodate four, but can be combined for larger parties like ours. The ceiling is acoustic tile, which under normal circumstances would help keep things quiet.
The wine list is, at present, quite short. There are four whites, all available by the glass, and five reds, three of which are available by the glass. I noted with interest that one of the reds was the 2007 Quinto de Espirito Santo "Tinto", which was one of my recommendations in Wine Picks for May. The wines are all priced at $30 or less per bottle, except for a Chateauneuf-du-pape at $50. The selection of reds, though limited, covers a range of styles, from a Beaujolais to the rich, dense Espirito Santo. A couple of dessert wines are offered as well. Three beers are listed; a weiss bock from Germany, a golden ale from a Colorado craft brewer, and Miller High Life. At this time Luc offers no distilled spirits.
Two salads, one soup and five appetizers appeared on last night's menu, ranging from $6 to $13. One of our party ordered the Asparagus soup with truffle oil. I sampled a bit of this and liked it, the asparagus tasting both mild and fresh. Kathy ordered the Duck plate, which includes a tartare and a confit, with rye mustard. The tartare was good, but she found the confit a bit too salty. The mustard was very strong, and any more than a small dab would overpower the taste of the duck. I ordered the seared ono (the original - that is, Hawaiian - name for wahoo) which was lightly seared at the edges but otherwise rare. It was very good, not too fishy, and the quantity was just right as well. I also sampled the seared lamb sirloin, which was flavorful but a little chewy.
Only three entrées were offered, these being Black cod ($14), braised pork shoulder ($16) and beef tenderloin ($19). One of our party ordered the cod, with the rest going for the pork or beef.
Our entrées arrived after about 20-25 minutes. I sampled the cod, which was fresh, clean and succulent. My pork was flavorful and tender and was just moist enough (it was also served hot, which I appreciated). Kathy's tenderloin, served medium rare, was also very good and was extremely tender.
Two desserts were offered, a cinnamon crème brûlée and a butter vanilla pound cake with chocolate drizzle. I ordered the former and Kathy the latter. The crème brûlée was good, with nice flavors and not over-sugared, but was a little overcooked, particularly on one side, and not as creamy was we like. In all fairness, I should say that we were spoiled by the crème brûlée at Clusters and Hops back in Tallahassee, where chef Kent Steele is an absolute master of this dish. That served at Luc is as good as any we've had in Corvallis and better than most. The pound cake, unfortunately, was too dry for Kathy, and it would have been better served warmer. The quantity of cake was generous, but the chocolate drizzle was not. "Less cake, more sauce," was Kathy's comment.
Around 8:30 a steady beat began to emanate from the floor. Luc is located above the La Bamba Underground Nightclub. This establishment is open from Wednesday through Saturday, and though it doesn't open until 9:00pm, apparently the band starts to warm up earlier than that. The owners of Luc are aware of the problem and their web site advises, "OK, so come early before the music starts."
Another option is to dine at Luc on Sunday. The restaurant is open that day; the nightclub is not.
Luc is off to a good start, needing only to offer a couple more entrées and desserts (and a little more attention to the latter). The service and food are excellent, and Corvallis can always use another good restaurant, particularly one that makes an effort to keep its prices reasonable.
Luc web site.