99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Lucques

photo by Rob Stark Photography

It is sometimes easy to take Lucques for granted, to forget the profound influence Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s restaurant has had since it opened in 1998. You might overlook the roster of other chefs Goin has trained, or the way of eating she gave us with her Sunday suppers and her market-driven, globally inflected California cuisine. If that’s the case, go back for dinner. Sit near the fireplace in silent-screen star Harold Lloyd’s former carriage house, order a seasonal cocktail or one of Styne’s excellent wines, and taste what Goin has been cooking lately. Because what’s coming out of her kitchen is as utterly creative as it was almost 16 years ago. Goin’s food does something that seems effortless but is incredibly difficult, especially with the kind of consistency and duration she has managed. Pitched halfway between luxury and comfort and achieving both, both the food and the ambiance at Lucques come as a slow revelation, an epiphany in three or four courses, probably with kumquats or harissa.

-- Amy Scattergood