Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 36 Wellington St East
Time of visit: Dinner on a Saturday in January
Lucien's dining room is a narrow room adorned with dark walls, dark wooden tables and dim lights. The only feature that attempts to open up the space is a large mirror at the bar area.
When my friend and I entered on Saturday, the restaurant was still relatively empty. With plenty of tables for two available, I expected to be seated pretty quickly; alas, this wasn't the case. Rather than seating us in one of the three tables already set-up for two, our waiter insisted we wait until they cleaned a table in the corner by the window. Since it's situated between a wall and two windows, it felt like we were eating in a pet store display. Perhaps, a couple may like the table since it's private and secluded. But, as two friends having a casual dinner, it was a bit strange and definitely not worth having to wait five minutes to have it made up.
Lucien takes after its Italian roots and charges for bread - common in Europe but rare in Toronto. Nonetheless, wanting something to nibble on before our mains but not wanting something heavy, we decided to pay the $2 and share the small bread basket. Consisting of six slices of cold bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it wasn't worth paying for.
I had the daily house made pasta ($29), which was tiger shrimp on linguine that night. The three tiger shrimp were great - large, cooked perfectly and seasoned well. The linguine, on the other hand, was less impressive. The noodles were slightly overcooked so after a few bites it started getting gluey. The first few bites which were covered with shaved parmesan were good, but the rest was bland since there was too little sauce on the pasta. To make things worse, there was no salt on the table so you couldn't even flavour the dish yourself.
My friend ordered the striploin ($37), which was overdone and subpar. Accompanying the striploin were plain fingerling potatoes that could use some herbs and time in the oven and plump crimini mushrooms were the best part of the dish as they were meaty and nicely roasted. The Diane sauce was abnormally thick and resembled peanut butter on the plate but tasted like congealed gravy. I would have just liked a simple jus from cooking the beef.
Overall, the food had the potential to be good as they were made with quality, fresh ingredients. However, somewhere in the process things went wrong - either the chef lacked quality control and let overdone items leave their kitchen or the food was sitting for too long waiting to be brought to the table. Either way, with the plethora of rustic Italian restaurants and steakhouses across Toronto, there are many better options to go to.
Overall mark - 5 out of 10
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!