Friday, August 03, 2007

Think outside the box...

No sorry excuses. I just haven't posted lately and I need to. I mean it, I really need to. Eating & drinking are way up there on my list of life's indispensable passions, so let's get busy with it!!!!

I'm getting married the beginning of next year and it's starting to sink in how much I need to do. Lot's going on. Mike is in Portland (which will be my new home) and most of the planning discussions are over the phone. We're getting married in Hawaii, then back to So Cal for an intimate dinner with close friends and family. Just what we want. I entertain a lot for work and get the opportunity to eat at some pretty incredible places, and although Mike & I love Roy's, when it comes to eating...we like to think outside the box. Who's cooking at that new little place downtown? It's so much fun to try places before everyone knows about them and things change.

In my search, I've found a wonderful hidden gem right in my own backyard (Irvine) called Lucca Cafe. Not tapas, but small plates, perfect for sharing. They pride themselves with serving incredibly fresh and innovative food in an unpretentious atmosphere. Their wine list is extensive with a price range for everyone, and over 60 wines by the glass! They're $10 reverse corkage ain't bad any bottle to take home and take $10 off the price.

I've been tossing them around as a location for our 'reception' dinner and decided I'd treat myself to a beautiful dinner to seal the deal. Elliott (owner/manager?) now knows me...this makes me feel very important. ;)
He shows me to a table and spends a minute to introduce a few new cheese finds from a purveyor in Dana Point. It's after work, I'm tired and hungry. I tell Elliott I'd love some cheese, but more importantly would like for him to decide on my meal for me. I love doing that and I've had some of my best meals from letting the staff decide! He leaves and a server appears to pour a glass of Terrabianca Campaccio 2001 Super Tuscan, which is their best seller for very obvious reasons. Very big red with a smooth finish. Nothing overbearing or shocking & left me noting the vintage.

Elliott chooses a 3 cheese plate (they serve a choice of 1, 3 or 5 cheeses). A little more than I actually needed, but should I care? I sampled a blue from Rogue Creamery on the Oregon Coast, Brie d' Meaux (triple cream...need I say anything more?) and a tart goat cheese from Midnight Moon Humbolt County. All this plated with beautiful berries, champagne grapes, flat bread & my glass of wine. Am I dreaming?.......

Next comes a plate of petite pork tenderloin. Spiced, peppered and cooked perfectly. It was thinly sliced and rested on a bed of caramelized new onions and strewn with fried leeks. On the side was a perfect little ramekin filled with polenta topped with sour cherries.

He finishes with their signature Lucca bread pudding. It looked crazy good, but I don't like sweets and didn't have the heart to tell him so I took it to go. My boys will happily finish off any leftovers I bring home! I have a cup of coffee, enjoy the sunset and wish Mike was there.'s a done deal. For our reception dinner, Lucca will work out beautifully.

Glass wine $16.50 (YES....I'm worth it!)
Cheese plate $13.00
Pork tenderloin $17.00
Bread Pudding $ 5.00
Coffee $ 1.75

Food - Incredible
Ambiance- relaxed and unpretentious
Value- Outstanding!

Lucca Cafe
6507 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 725-1773