Luce

>>  Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Bryan at Matsuhisa
This blog could have so many more posts if Bryan would cooperate.

You see, Bryan travels for work quite frequently. The nature of his industry allows him to visit some of the best food cities around the world. He often eats at great restaurants that I would love to write up. Unfortunately, whenever he shows me his dimly lit, fuzzy, yellow iPhone pictures that he took of his meals, I just can't bring myself to put them up on this blog.

It would kill me, really.

Thankfully, things are finally changing.
Bryan recently bought himself a pretty snazzy point & shoot camera. I have to say, I'm really, really impressed with this little Sony camera. It's small enough to fit inside his pocket, yet takes quite impressive food photos in pretty dark lighting.

Bryan really has no excuse now.

Lucky for all of us, Bryan has graciously agreed to start taking photos of the food he enjoys on his many business trips. We'll start an ongoing series of "Bryan's Travel Eats" on this blog. These posts will most likely be a bit more photo-driven, since I can't personally write nearly as much about these visits since I'm not there. Nevertheless, I'm thrilled to be able to share about even more cool restaurants on this blog.

For these posts, I will usually at least write a summary of his general thoughts regarding a restaurant at the bottom of the post. Hopefully, I can add as much detail as possible (but it's really all up to how much he can remember on these whirlwind trips that he takes).  :)

Please enjoy! (and check out the debut of this little camera's work!)
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Luce is a modern, new American restaurant inside the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. The space is airy, bright, and sleek. Some have criticized the decor as being too "corporate" and cold. However, there's no denying that the impressive high ceilings and designer decor make this place well suited for power business meals.

Luce was previously helmed by the famous Dominique Crenn, who helped Luce earn its first Michelin star in 2010. Ms. Crenn became nationally famous when she won Iron Chef America in 2010 against Chef Michael Symon. Chef Crenn left Luce in March of 2011. Thankfully, the new chef de cuisine, Daniel Corey, has already proven himself by again achieving one Michelin star in 2012 for Luce.

Bryan came here with a co-worker during a business trip in San Francisco.
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Before dinner at Luce, they first stopped at Bar 888, which is right next to Luce inside the Interncontinental. Bar 888 is the nation's first and largest grappa bar with over 120 (!) different grappas to try.
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Bryan tried a couple grappa cocktails, which he thought were fun and tasty.

For dinner, Bryan and his co-worker decided to try the "Summer Tasting Menu" for $85, or $140 with wine pairing. Similar to at many restaurants, the whole table has to participate if you want to try the tasting menu.
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The meal begins with a fun, savory amuse - savory, thin toasted bread topped with a single slice of tomato, a basil leaf, and a powdered "snow" (made from cheese, perhaps?).
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The summer tasting continues with its first course, Roasted Abalone and Diver Scallop, which is served with pickled ramps and raspberries in a vibrant green foam.
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The second course,Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes. is stunning in its artistic plating and is served alongside melon, pistachio, and basil.
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The third course features a Slow Cooked Hen Egg with summer truffle, smoked potato, and pork jus.
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Break the egg open to reveal the gorgeous, runny center.
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Next comes a palate cleanser cleverly called "Sweet and Sour". Refreshing and light, it consists of marinated strawberries topped with a white balsamic sorbet.
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The fifth course is a Poached Lobster served with charred onion and fig vinegar, turnips, and buckwheat.
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The sixth course is a perfectly executed Herb Roasted Lamb Loin served with crispy belly, baby eggplant & fig, tiny dollops of yogurt, and berber spice.
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Before dessert, a second palate cleanser, the Raspberry Mojito Float, appears.
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The meal ends with an exquisite Elderflower Mousse, which comes with compressed white peaches and Bellini ice.
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General Thoughts
Bryan was very impressed with the overall meal. The space is stunning, the service was excellent, and overall the food was great. The dishes embody a food philosophy that is so Californian - a dedicated focus on the region's rich bounty of  locally-grown, seasonal ingredients.

Bryan thought that $85 for a tasting menu of this size and caliber was quite reasonable, especially considering the location of the restaurant, the complexity of the dishes, and the cachet of the Michelin star. Perhaps we're biased since we're coming at it from a Boston perspective (where such abundant access to great produce and high quality execution is just a bit harder to get). Nevertheless, biased or not, Bryan still thoroughly enjoyed his meal and was quite excited to tell me all about it when he got back to Boston.

Luce
888 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Luce on Urbanspoon

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you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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