I made my second visit to Krog Street Market last weekend in hopes of checking out Ford Fry’s latest Mexican concept, Superica. Superica only opened a few weeks ago, and they don’t take reservations, so I’m sure you can imagine how crazy the place was at 8 pm on a Friday night. So crazy, in fact, that the wait was 2.5 hours for a party of 8. With the goal of finishing dinner before midnight, we wandered around the corner to The Luminary instead. Given that everyone in the entire Krog Street Market seemed to be waiting for a table at Superica, we walked right in.
The Luminary, a French-American brasserie concept, only opened a few months ago itself. The menu features mostly classic French flavors in the form of modern and re-invented dishes. Drink-wise, The Luminary offers a handful of “mixology-style” cocktails and a decent selection of draft beers and wines by the glass & bottle. I tried the Pear Necessities, which was essentially a Moscow mule with a very subtle hint of pear. So subtle, in fact, that it just tasted like a plain old Moscow mule.
The drink service was on the slow side, but once we ordered, our food came out pretty quickly. I usually prefer the opposite – quick on the drinks, slower on the food, but I suppose that’s preferable than slow on both. One brussel sprout salad later, and the meal was off to a good start. The sprouts were served warm with onions, roasted apples and a pickled mustard vinaigrette. They were cooked beautifully with just the right amount of tangy mustard flavor to go with the sweet apples.
The blue crab dish that came next was not exactly what I was expecting when I ordered the dish. The crab was mixed into an onion puree, with large chunks of roasted oca. This was my first experience with oca, but texturally, it reminded me of an undercooked potato. Either that or it was simply undercooked. I enjoyed the flavor of the crab with the onion puree, but was not a fan of the oca addition to the dish. On a side note, a slice of grilled sourdough bread would have been the perfect way to scrape up the crab from the bottom of the dish.
The pork belly dish was not what I was expecting either, this time because it wasn’t cooked well. The pork was paired with a sweet date chutney over a lightly dressed frisee. The chutney was too sweet and the pork itself was dry and lacked that decadent pork belly juciness. Overall, the dish was just a miss.
The beef tartare was average, as far as beef tartare is concerned. The tartare was classically prepared, or as the menu suggested, “properly garnished.” I found it to be a tad heavy on the worcestershire sauce. The French fries, though also unoriginal, were tasty.
Things definitely turned around with the arrival of the gnocchi. It was insanely delicious, and definitely more of the classic “French with a twist” style dish that I was expecting from The Luminary. The potatoey pasta was cooked perfectly and drenched in an over-the-top rich foie gras sauce. The earthy cremini mushrooms were an excellent addition to the dish flavor-wise.
The swordfish “amadine” was the only entrée I tasted, so hopefully it was a representative sample, because it was quite good. It was served over a celery root puree and topped with crispy kale. The swordfish was fresh and nicely seared, though totally outshined by its kale companion. That crispy kale on top of the swordfish might have been was definitely the best bite I tried all night.
We ended the meal with the salty caramel ganache tart, which might have been the smallest dessert I’ve ever attempted to share with two other people. There was barely enough for one bite apiece. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the salty, rich, and chocolaty flavor of the ganache, I just wished there had been more of it.
I am constantly telling myself to branch out from beef tartare and pork belly, and in The Luminary’s case, I wish I would have. The dishes we tried were somewhat hit-or-miss, but I was hoping for something a little more modern and inventive. I didn’t dislike The Luminary, but the concept definitely sounded more intriguing on paper than it was in real life. If The Luminary wants to be in the upper tier of the stiff Krog Street Market competition, I think they’re going to need to step up their game.