Matthew Lickona 8 p.m., Dec. 17
Southern comfort in Poway
Luc's Bistro offers southern style comfort food with a bit of European flair
Southern style comfort food is not what you would expect to find in a nondescript strip mall in Poway. In fact, when I stopped at Luc’s Bistro for dinner after a beer tasting foray in North County, I was under the impression that it was a French restaurant.
Luc's Bistro was created in 2009 by brother and sister team Monica Bui Verpiand and Lam Bui, who grew up in Alabama and Mississippi, and Phillipe Verpiand of the now defunct Cavaillon in Santa Luz. New owner Sergio Ferrer took over this year when Verpiand moved to Houston to open Étoile Cuisine et Bar.
It’s standard strip mall bistro basic inside, complete with a large flat-screen television over the bar, which, although muted, seems annoying and unnecessary.
Our hostess/server enthusiastically answered our questions about the menu. It’s nice when waitstaff get to know what they are serving. I know, that should be obvious, but in reality, I’ve been to far too many places where every inquiry is greeted with “Let me go ask the kitchen”.
I have a soft spot for old fashioned foods, so when I spied chicken and dumplings on the menu, I was delighted. I started out, though, with a cup of chilled beet soup and a jalapeno corn muffin.
Beautifully rosy and earthy, the sweet beets were tempered with a splash of basalmic vinegar, the julienned Granny Smith/feta cheese garnish added a crunchy, salty counterpoint. Delicious. The muffin, not so much. Dry, with no discernable flavor, despite flecks of green jalapeno, it needed the accompanying butter and honey.
Alas, the chicken and dumplings gets zero points for presentation. Even the little chunks of carrots and peas couldn’t rescue it from beige blandness. It tasted pretty good, though, and had plenty of meaty pieces of dark and white meat in a savory, mildly spicy gravy that was thisclose to being too salty. I like my food that way, but others may find it to be too much.
The dumplings were another story. Nearly raw, they resembled cut up pieces of Pillsbury biscuits more than anything else. I pushed them to the side and concentrated on the chicken part.
John started with a cup of French onion soup. It was decent, not too sweet oniony flavor. He wasn’t bothered by the lack of melted cheese topping and liked the little aioli smeared cracker more than the standard crouton.
John’s short rib shepherd’s pie, one of the daily specials, suffered in the presentation department as well. The thin cover of mashed potatoes had an overload of panko crumbs poured onto it. That wouldn’t have been so bad, had they been properly toasted. Instead, they sank into the pie and created a gummy mass. The short ribs themselves were quite delicious, fork tender and full of red winey, beefy flavor. Since wine braised short ribs are on the regular menu, I’d suggest that over the shepherd’s pie.
We split a red velvet cupcake for dessert. Perhaps baked goods are not their strong suit as it, like the muffin, was dry and lacking flavor.
Luc’s Bistro offers several good deals during the week – Tuesdays feature a $10 burger and beer combo and on Wednesdays, kids eat free with a paid adult dinner (one kid per adult).
12642 Poway Rd
Poway, CA 92064
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