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Chefs + Restaurants

First Taste: Lucier


Famously casual Portland doesn’t do $4 million buildouts, or dress codes, or brigades of solicitous waiters, each with one hand tucked discreetly behind the back.

Portlanders, therefore, have been debating the merits of Lucier for months—and it only opened on Memorial Day. Under the direction of owners Tyanne and Chris Dussin and chef-owner Pascal Chureau (also of Fenouil in the Pearl District) the restaurant is making a promising, if uneven, start.

Lucier practically leers at the scenic Willamette River. Inside, there are glass sculptures and a narrow artificial river; the dominant artistic element, however, is The Pod, an immense gold polyhedron separating the dining room from the bar. I was really, really hoping it was going to house the restrooms, but it’s a brazenly camouflaged server station.

There is a lot of staff, and the service is sublime, attentive and easygoing. Cellar master Ron Wolf recommended domestic pours from the diverse by-the-glass list (which includes some serious Champagnes, at up to $75 a glass), and he’s equally knowledgeable when it comes to Lucier’s encyclopedic 18,000-bottle, 1,850-label wine list.

As for the food? The carpaccio of striped bass with salt-cured foie gras and yuzu juice is superb, tart and salty and rich in all the right measures. Fava bean soup with corn flan and chunks of lobster is the perfect spring starter.

But the halibut, cooked sous vide and served on top of braised pork belly and leek fondue with a single langoustine, was underseasoned, and I enjoyed the dish more after pushing aside the bland chunk of fish. I ordered the wagyu-style rib eye with my own eye on the “morels cappuccino,” and I wasn’t disappointed—with the mushrooms or the beef—but the “mustard tuile” somehow tasted exactly like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Given that I dined at Lucier on its fifth night, I hope some of these conceptual and consistency problems will have been reined in by the time you read this.

As my dinner was winding down, a fireworks display broke out over the river. It was for the opening of Portland’s Rose Festival, but for a moment I wondered whether a Lucier guest had said, “This is a very special anniversary,” and a staff member thought, hmmm….

Lucier 1910 River Drive, Portland, OR (503-222-7300; lucier-portland.com)