July 11, 2008

Will You Marry Me? Okay. Fine. Then take me to Lucier instead.

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"So I promised the valet that I would go back for a drink. You guys want to meet me there?" I was hesitant. The 4th of July. I was not dressed up. No, in fact, I think you could say that I was definitely dressed down. Lucier is rumored to have a dress code. And a river running through it. (Now that would be very Robert Redford-ish if there really was!) Not the place I would go in my grubbies after sitting in the dirt watching the fireworks on the waterfront.

Laura seemed confident though - "Oh they'll let us in, it's just the bar." Why the hell not. Sure. Let's try it. We greeted the valet, who remembered Laura. Wait. Stop right there. If the evening had ended right then, it would have been enough. The valet was as hot as the 4th of July. And it actually WAS the 4th of July, so I can verify the accuracy of that statement. I reflected on my own appearance as I stared at him.

My eye makeup was of course smeared from the heat and the business of the day and by 10:30 I looked like a full-fledged heroin addict, with ripped jeans and a t-shirt and a red fleece blanket crumpled in my arms from the fireworks show. Ah well. Sometimes it's hot to just be yourself, yes? (The correct answer is: YES. Thanks for playing.)

The valet, darling as he was, assured us that we were not underdressed. "You know there's no dress code here. It says 'business casual', and this is Portland after all. You guys are fine."

We wandered to the patio and I caught a glimpse of the dining room on our way. H. O. L. Y. Did the architects know they were building a restaurant in PORTLAND? The chandeliers, tablecloths and flowers made me cough a little and cover up, as if I was exposing some part of myself.

We found the perfect place to sit - a couch and two cushy chairs around a coffee table. Mmmm. The menu was short. And French. My eyes went straight to the truffled parsnip chips (parsnip chips gratinees, black truffle-infused oil, bra tenero cheese). And some kind of fried cheese things (Fourme d’ambert cromesquis, fourme d’ ambert cheese croquette sauternes & honeycomb syrup). My friends ordered all manner of desserts.

The waitresses all wore uniforms of silky/satiny halter tops, black slacks and high heels. Malibu Barbie was our waitress. The original Barbie was in there somewhere, too. But all the Barbies were nice and friendly and spot-on waitresses. I'm only calling them Barbies because I'm jealous. Truly. They were all as hot as the valet. I began to wonder: Am I really in Portland or am I on a strange drug-trip to 90210?

Sigh. The food was A-mazing. The parsnip chips? Yah. Could have eaten the plate of them all myself and maybe even a second plate of them. The deep truffle flavor and salt permeated the delicate parsnips and it all came together with the cheese that was melted on top. Think hoity-toity nachos that rock. Thank goodness my pride was a little on guard that night and I refrained from the desperation-second-order. There was no need, really. The desserts, which included a black pepper cheesecake and jasmine creme brulee and then a chocolate fancy dish, had really interesting flavor combinations. I liked them and thought that the the pastry chef must be intriguing. I am really more of a salt person, though. I could have stuck with the chips and cheese and been so so happy. Instead, I pushed it a little farther and was stuffed.

Right about the time I was going to go into a food coma, Malibu Barbie came by and told us that it was last call. Sara and Chelsea went to the bathroom and came back all agog and with a beautiful brown fancy-dinner-napkin like paper towel as a souvenir.

As we were leaving, the waitress gave us a tour of the dining room. Gasp! There IS a river running through it. Not kidding. Well, it is really more of a trickle in a tiled moat around the dining room. But still. A river runs through it. She was talking about the symbolism of the different styles and walls and how it all reflects Portland, but I just kept thinking that I needed to run home and shower and put on some really nice clothes before I could understand anything that she was saying.

It is really, really beautiful. The food is rich and flavorful and memorable. I really want to go to dinner there, but it's going to have to be an occasion that's worth it. This is not a Friday night, restaurant group kind of a place. It's a 50th anniversary place. Or a my book just got published place. Or OMG I just got a $5,000 bonus at work place. Or a marriage proposal place.

But I don't put it past myself to dress up one night and pretend that one of those things is happening to me, just so I can eat dinner there.

Lucier on Urbanspoon


Hey, It's Ansley said...

It was all this and more. You did a much better job at trying to capture it than I did but it really needs to be seen not described. And seen by us in better clothes the next time.