I’ve been walking past this restaurant for 2 years without knowing it was a restaurant. I still wouldn’t know except last time I walked past, it was Sunday and there was a line. Curiosity drew me closer to realize that it was a line for Sunday brunch. Noted! The following week I chose Lucille’s for a work-lunch and was pleasantly surprised to find the nouveau Southern venue is excellent.
The property is ensconced by a forest of large trees giving it a mysterious, hidden personality both inside and out. The interior with its dark wood, white tablecloths and upscale table settings I can only characterize as rustic elegance. I see Lucille’s more as a date place or a venue for quiet, refined celebration, rather than a scene or a place for attention whores.
I saw Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu and the surveying of choice came to an abrupt halt. Any restaurant billing itself as Southern will be tested on this dish – failure will not be tolerated. Luckily the chef here has completely mastered and even improved on the classic recipe. The tomatoes were fresh, neither too thickly or thinly sliced. The cornmeal casing was crispy, greaseless, substantial without overwhelming and there was a faint, fresh garlic flavour adding dimension to the tomato and the Remoulade sauce. The Remoulade sauce was thick, creamy, and well-balanced. The small amount of hot pepper I detected played nicely with the lemon and thyme.
I did make it past the Tomatoes to my main, only because I was sharing them with someone. For my main I went with an Oyster BLT, which was also excellent. Squeaky fresh and lightly fried oysters were dominant against a few strips of thick bacon and the requisite veggies, all packed densely within a crispy-turned-pillowy freshly baked bun. That Remoulade sauce from the Tomatoes showed up again here, a welcomed redux.
My partner-in-culinary-crime ordered the Chicken Fried Steak special which was obscenely large. There wasn’t much conversation during lunch and he did finish most of it, so I assume it was an unspoken thumbs up.
Knowledgeable, friendly and efficient. The only caveat I will mention is that they pimp the Fried Green Tomatoes as something they will bring to the table since ‘you must try these’. They are not free, if you don’t want them channel your inner New Yorker and speak bluntly to that fact. In my case I was going to order them anyway so it was a zero sum.
A little high but ingredient quality, preparation and presentation are likewise high. Tomatoes $8, BLT $14.
Houston’s Museum District is still surprisingly deficient in restaurants given the meteoric rise in residential units. However, its encouraging that the few new entries, like Lucille’s, are focused on quality and innovation rather than banging out the typical strip center offerings.
Lunch: June 2014
Lucille’s | 5512 La Branch | HTX 77004