I’m buddies with a guy from work called Luc. He works in our office in Belgium, and when I told him that I was going to dinner at a Belgian restaurant called Cafe Luc, he said quite seriously, “everything good from Belgium is called Luc.”
And so it was armed with this knowledge that I scooted down Marylebone High Street last Friday evening, rugged up in my grey jersey dress, tights and boots (because yes, the dreaded chill has begun), ready to experience what the “only Belgian owned restaurant in London” had to offer.
Stepping into the father-daughter run restaurant, the atmosphere immediately feels welcoming, with dark hardwood flooring and deep brown leather lounges. The ambience is somewhat reminiscent Eastside Inn (whose closure I am still grieving) – comfortable but sophisticated, coupling grandeur with the casual-schick of waiters in jeans and pressed white collared shirts.
Perusing their dinner menu, I’m pleasantly surprised by the variety of dishes, including four different fish dishes, not that I ordered any… I mean, confit duck was on offer, people.
To start, Panu had the Cornish crab tian, with avocado, tomato dressing and topped with half a quail egg. Not only is the dish beautifully presented, it was also delectable, with a perfect blend of crab and avocado, laced with a delicious tomato dressing.
My starter was far more of a mystery. I actually ordered the terrine grand-mere, which consists of finely chopped pork and chicken liver. What came out was anything but a terrine and definitely not the chopped up innards of piglets and fowls.
Instead, I was presented with what appeared to be sliced herring and artichoke, served on toasted sourdough bread. I didn’t send it back because it looked interesting enough and in fact was also reasonably tasty. What makes the mystery is that upon studying the menu again, I could not find this dish listed anywhere.
Onto the mains and out came my star of the night, confit duck des landes, with summer cabbage and spicy jus. This leg of duck was seriously the meatiest leg of duck I’d ever had, with very little fat and presented atop a mountain of cabbage (which I love). It was also a deceivingly huge portion, but I managed to inhale the lot without too much effort 🙂
Panu’s steak tartare a la minute was far less exciting. It looked promising, a mountain of minced steak, a perfectly round yolk, flanked by little piles of olives, pickles, sauce and what-not. He found it too bland though, a distant cry from some great tartare we’ve had at the likes of 1901 or Pershing Hall in Paris.
A mention of the sides: spinach blanched to perfection, maintaining its full flavour and not overwhelmed by salt; frites were thin and fried to crispy goodness; greens, which look utterly boring, but actually covered in a deliciously light balsamic dressing.
Already full from my scrumptious duck confit, I could have gone without dessert but really? Would that really be me? Hellz no.
So I ordered the roasted pineapple with coconut sorbet and pistachio. Unlike some who abhor having pineapple warmed (think Hawaiian pizza and tropical burgers), I love having pineapple in anything and paired with coconut, it’s like a pina colada heaven, but better.
Panu ordered the petit fours, a selection of hazelnut financiers, canele de Bordeaux, almond biscotti and chocolate truffles. The plate looked kind of boring in various shades of beige, but apparently the taste was anything but boring, with the chocolate truffles leading the pack.
Overall, the service was polished, save for a waitress with a heavy accent who we honestly (and awkwardly) could not understand, and aside from the steak tartare, dinner at Cafe Luc was thoroughly enjoyable with the room quickly filling up throughout the course of the evening.
Would I return? Yes, yes I would, if nothing else but to find out what the hell that mystery starter was all about.
* I was invited for dinner by Cafe Luc.
50 Marylebone High Street
Marylebone, W1U 5HN
0207 258 9878