Power Lunch: Lucky’s

After the close of Camarelli’s at 1536 E. 15th St. earlier this year, Mathew and Brooke Kelley of Atlas Grill fame, were able to obtain the space. They gutted and rebuilt the space into Lucky’s, a rustic restaurant with a sleek, modern edge and food worth showing off to important business associates and clients.
The décor was obviously intended to reflect what comes out of the kitchen. The Winter 2007 menu features a wide selection of traditional foods with predominantly southwest or French influences that are comfortable and familiar, but with a one-of-a-kind, edgy twist.
When my husband, a co-worker and I popped into Lucky’s for lunch last month, my co-worker started with the Grilled Tomato, Chicken and Hominy Soup, $3 for a cup, $6 for a bowl, which featured ultra-fresh ingredients and warming, balanced flavors. Feeling encouraged by the restaurant name, I opted for the Black Eyed Pea Cakes, $9, served with fresh corn relish and chipotle aioli. This starter is a great spin on crab cakes or even the black bean cakes that followed Matthew from his previous homes at Grill 51 and Atlas Grill.
Starters soon disposed, my husband, an Arkansas native, jumped at the chance to try the Chicken Fried Rabbit, $15, which at lunch is served with sage gravy, cheddar mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Not surprisingly one of the most popular items on the menu at Lucky’s, this plate of some of the ultimate comfort foods satisfies the taste buds as well as the soul. The presentation was flawless, and the green beans and rabbit tenderloin were cooked perfectly.
My co-worker ordered the Fish Tacos, $9, made from pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi and topped with jicama slaw, chipotle mayonnaise and salsa verde, all piled into two flour tortillas and served with black beans. This entrée won the beauty queen award of the afternoon, bright with greens, oranges, purples and browns, and tasted wonderful, to boot. And, we’re still talking about that salsa verde.
The lunch menu at Lucky’s features a few items that could just as well be eaten for breakfast, including my choice for lunch, the Eggs Poblano, $8. Brioche was flash-fried and topped with flavorful marinated chicken breast, poached eggs and a perfectly tangy roasted poblano hollandaise. The dish, which could have stood another thought or two on presentation, was served with grilled pineapple.
While I opted for the flourless chocolate cake for dessert, my companions tried the sweet potato pie and coconut cake, all $7. The sweet potato pie, served Easy Bake Oven-sized and topped with a marshmallow merengue, was the best of the bunch.
The flourless chocolate cake, made from crushed pecans and merengue, is topped with a bourbon chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream. We wish it was served warm, though. The coconut cake was gorgeous, and we loved the spin Lucky’s put on this traditional dessert with its lime curd layers.
We found portion size at Lucky’s was in good proportion to the price. The service was excellent and our server was very personable, even if he seemed new and didn’t know much about the menu.
After a Sept. 4. opening, judging by how the dining room was packed by noon, the restaurant is more than up and running. Lucky’s can seat 80 in the dining room and bar, all within about 2,500 SF.
The Kelleys didn’t stop putting their spin on the traditional when it came to the bar and wine list. Nearly half the wines at Lucky’s come from organic or biodynamic vineyards. Lucky’s is also the home of the 20 for $20, or 10 bottles of red and 10 bottles of white wine available for $20. At the high end of the wine list is the Bindi Quartz Chardonnay, $160, of which there are only six bottles in the state (you can find all six bottles at Lucky’s), and a Sineann Schindler Vineyard Pinot Noir, $75.
Lucky’s would be a good spot for a lunchtime business meeting, since the restaurant can host 16 in a private dining room. If you’re thoughtful enough to take your food- or wine-enthusiast clients or associates to lunch at Lucky’s, rest assured, it’s lucky them. ?

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