Welcome to Date Night at Café Lurcat.
I was all set to let you in on a well-kept secret, but, elbowing our way through the crowd on a recent Sunday evening, it’s clear that somebody already blabbed.
For the remaining few as innocent as I, here’s the deal: a three-course dinner of multiple choices for $50 a couple every Sunday evening, plus — plus! — half off on bottles of wine, like the lovely petite sirah we sipped as we let our eyes wander over the smart setting.
The vista segues from pretty Loring Park across a room of understated chic to the open kitchen, with a newly promoted head chef and new menu in place.
Sunday evenings, it’s an opportunity for puttin’ on the Ritz at Motel 6 prices.
And yes, the food’s as fine as the friendly, attitude-free service.
From among the trio of starters, we shared a plate of beef carpaccio — sweet as all get-out, boasting a boutonniere of shaved cremini mushrooms in a lust-inducing perfume of truffle oil.
Next, Lurcat’s signature salad: twigs of sweet-tart apple and savory cheese bundled upright under a dusting of chives. (Or choose pear and goat cheese on endive and micro-greens.) Habit-forming.
Next, a generous, ruddy square of salmon, moist as when it came out of the water, given a sweet-hot punch of Korean flavors and partnered with nicely chewy black rice and a lively ginger/scallion mince.
Then, what else to choose? Hanger steak? Pork tenderloin with fig and blue cheese? Next time.
Tonight, the chicken of which our server boasted, and rightly so: fried as God meant it to be, with a crunchy crust that conceals ultra-moist white meat within. It’s paired with chicken gravy (natch; I think there’s a law) and a buttermilk biscuit (another wise edict) — firmer, heftier than maybe your Southern granny (were you so lucky) would endorse, but satisfying.
Finally, a quartet of dessert options, including Lurcat’s legendary cinnamon- sugared doughnuts. I’ve enjoyed them way too often for my doctor’s comfort, so this time, on to an autumn version of a Pavlova, whose crunchy meringue base supports hard cider/caramel apple slices and crème fraîche cheesecake scattered with sea- salted peanuts. Seriously good. So was the milk chocolate fudge bar, smooth as velvet, dressed in a rich cherry mousseline and cocoa crumbs.
Should you dine here on other evenings, you’ll find the new menu divided into categories: Traditional (those don’t-you-dare- remove-them items like the apple-cheese salad); Market (changing twice a year to reflect the season); and Voyage, a changing journey into another region of the country, such as the current spotlight on the Low Country cooking of South Carolina and that delectable fried chicken.
1925 Harmon Place 612-486-5500 www.cafelurcat.com