Eerily quiet. That’s how I would describe Luce on days when the Moscone Center is not hosting one of the many technology conferences. On this particular evening, in between events by Oracle and Salesforce, we were greeted by a hushed bar and tranquil dining room.
If you’re used to seeing New York’s Michelin Star recipients enjoying packed houses year-round, the atmosphere at Luce might feel a bit discomforting. Our waiter described this as the norm, but if we returned two days later would hardly be able to hear ourselves amidst database-driven chatter. I think I prefer the quiet.
The other reason to come to Luce on Sundays are the fantastic Sunday Supper Menu. These seasonally driven menus are a great value at just under $50 and deliver a solid meal, not a skimped down “restaurant-week” type experience. With the savings you can always order another dish or two, a la carte.
As with most seasonal menus, they change quite often so this write-up focuses less about the precise dishes ordered, but rather the way Luce brings out the flavor out of ingredients.
First was the seafood soup, where pieces of cleverly arranged shellfish and vegetables were finished table side with a lobster reduction broth. This on its own was a flavorful medley, yet it’s taken to another level with pieces of bread with uni butter.
Next up was the sweetbread ravioli, topped with generous shavings of black truffle and a couple pieces of fried sweetbread. Some might stay away from this ingredient made from animal organs, but it worked very well inside the ravioli. This was brought to us compliments of the kitchen (benefits of a quiet evening, perhaps), and was every bit as delicious as it looks and sounds.
The main course dispelled any nothing that the supper menu might hold back on portions. The ribeye of prime beef was cooked to tender perfection, and flavored with the familiar, but still fantastically tasty herb butter. Caramelized vegetable and mushrooms round out this excellent dish.
Dessert was a penna cotta that alternated sweet and savory with each bite. Once again showing that a master’s touch and vision can bring simple ingredients and opposing flavors into a harmonious flavor.
Luce was easily the best meal I had during the West Coast trip. While it lacks the branding cache of televised chefs, or a bit of the locational romance with this downtown hotel location that on most days caters to a business-centric crowd, on this particular Sunday it felt like personalized private dining.
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888 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103