The Octopus Bar team opened Lusca back in May of last year, which is pretty apparent from the giant octopus or “lusca” mural that looms over the bar in the back of the restaurant.
Lusca is located in the Brookwood Hills area in the old Bluefin Sushi space, right on Peachtree Street. Menu-wise, the restaurant is definitely seafood-centric with Mediterranean influences. There are a few unique twists, though, including a selection of fresh sushi and some interesting non-seafood dishes.
Normally, I reserve the last paragraph of my blogs for discussing a restaurant’s service, but Lusca’s service was more than just an afterthought. In fact, our server was spectacular. He described each of the dishes so eloquently and artfully, that it made us want to order everything on the menu (we tried our best). As you’ll see, his recommendations were spot-on. Honestly, this guy could have sold ice to an eskimo, but on this particular Friday night, he was pretty successful in selling delicious food to three hungry girls. Oh, and he also
didn’t mind pretended not to mind that we were literally the last three patrons to leave the restaurant at the end of the night.
The first dish we tried was the grilled bread special, which was far from your ordinary bread and butter basket. A perfectly round slice of sourdough was grilled, drizzled with honey, and piled high with trout roe. A spoonful of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of paprika completed the dish. The combination of flavors and textures in this bite of bread was just right. The salty roe and sweet honey gave the dish that savory/sweet balance, complemented by the subtle and delicate crème fraiche.
The second dish we tried, the scallop special, fell short of my expectations. To be fair, I have ridiculously high expectations for scallops, but these did not taste anywhere close to the buttery, melt in your mouth deliciousness that our server described them as. They were really fishy tasting and I didn’t love the addition of diced ginger to the dish. Presentation-wise, I did love the scallop shell served on ice, but it’s definitely not something I’d order again.
Our scallop-woes were quickly forgotten the minute we tried our next round of dishes: the brussels sprouts and the rock crab. The sprouts were shaved and served as a salad with apple slices, pecans, and shaved parmesan. The salad was lightly dressed with a tangy vinaigrette and sprinkled with fresh cracked pepper. I’m always a big fan of the apple-pecan combination, especially when the pecans are spiced and toasty.
The rock crab seems to be a staple on Lusca’s seasonally-changing menu, and it’s easy to see why. The dish was pure bliss on a slice of bread. The same grilled sourdough that we tried earlier in the night was spread with avocado and piled high with crab. The classic crab and avocado combination worked so well with the olive oil-grilled bread. The crab was fresh and light, the avocado, rich and creamy, and the bread, warm and toasty.
Seafood seems to be the main focus of Lusca’s menu, but our server also convinced us to try the lamb neck and the goat and pancetta ragu. And I’m glad he did. The lamb neck was insanely delicious. It was definitely my favorite dish of the evening. The lamb was roasted with cherry peppers and served over – you guessed it – more delicious grilled sourdough. This was my first experience eating lamb neck, and it certainly won’t be the last. The meat itself was so tender and flavorful, with a really nice texture.
The goat and pancetta ragu was another fabulous recommendation. The goat meat was served over a bed of polenta and topped off with a dollop of whipped ricotta. This was definitely the richest dish of the evening, and the flavors swirled together into one delicious bite.
We couldn’t leave without dessert, so we topped things off with the chocolate tart. This rich and chocolaty dessert was drizzled with caramel and olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and a handful of pistachios. Like the bread we started with, the tart hit just the right balance of sweet and savory. In a [pistachio] nutshell, the combination of ingredients in this dish was everything I look for in a dessert.
Lusca exceeded my expectations on multiple levels. My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that they didn’t have any octopus dishes on the menu. Hopefully the next time I return, they’ll be serving a grilled octopus dish to acompany that giant Lusca behind the bar.