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Restaurant Review: Lusca

posted on September 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

JAMES CAMP

JAMES CAMP

I knew Lusca was special when I ate a bite of toast. Its creamy avocado, chunks of sweet rock crab meat, scallions, and key limes on grilled pain au levain border on some sort of appetizer nirvana, the ingredients precisely seasoned and layered just right.

First bites like that crab toast reveal chefs/owners Angus Brown and Nhan Le’s restaurant at its most approachable and disarming. Yet, just as you become comfortable, Lusca spins your palate in the other direction. The eclectic, seafood-centric menu leaves you reveling in the bizarre deliciousness of dishes including a salad of shaved sunchokes, Saint Agur blue cheese, silky white anchovies, and pistachios.

An odd mix of people gathers in the stark subway-tile-lined dining room, where menacing hand-painted octopi creep and crawl on the walls: hipster foodies, well-heeled Atlantans, and everyone in between. It was jarring at first. But on my second visit, it clicked. Lusca’s clientele represents the melting pot of luxury, funkiness, and creativity that makes the restaurant so special.

Brown describes himself as “a simple chef,” but that modesty belies his grand ideas and strong culinary foundation. After the success of his and Le’s first collaboration, East Atlanta’s late-night haunt Octopus Bar, Brown set out on an extended trip to Asia. He says he thought he would return knowing how to make excellent curries, but says what he learned most was restraint.

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