Lüke, John Besh’s first restaurant outside of Louisiana, serves French-German fare with a New Orleans flair seven days a week, but once a month, Lüke switches up the menu with the visiting chef series. This August, Chef Phil Mariano from Domenica in New Orleans paid San Antonio a well-deserved (we’re a culinary city!) visit and took our tastebuds on a roller coaster ride. Six courses accompanied with drinks for $100? We’re looking forward to the visiting chef series every month now!
When we entered Lüke, we were giddy with excitement. The hostess led us up stairs and we were greeted with an open kitchen, mouthwatering aromas and freshly prepared cocktails. After finding a spot and settling down, the first course began – the affettati misti which consisted of salumi, imported cheese, ciabatta and delicious sides including olives and green raisin chutney. As an avid cheese lover, this may have been my favorite course.
Next up, the octopus carpaccio with shaved fennel and local citrus. The octopus was delicate and paired perfectly with the oranges and grapefruit. The “Star Cross Apricots”, a beverage made up of Rakia, lemon, honey and Topo Chico, was the selected drink for this course.
After having just a taste of Topo Chico, I couldn’t resist ordering my own bottle. The server poured the Topo Chico into a wine glass just as the next course landed in front of us – crispy sweetbreads with robiola (an Italian soft-ripened cheese), basil and pickled peaches. While the crispy sweetbreads didn’t strike a chord with my taste buds, the pickled peaches paired with the cheese was outstanding.
During a large meal, I tend to glance at the menu quite often as if I was at a wedding or graduation reading off the next presenter. One course I was particularly looking forward to was the campanelle (a cone shaped pasta) dish with blue crab, chanterelle mushrooms and corn custard. This dish did not disappoint. The tender, blue crab pasta dish was by far the most savory entree. The blue crab partnered up with the “Slick Ricky” – Gompers gin, Lillet Blanc, thyme, bitters and splash of egg whites.
Unknowingly, my mind decided the pasta dish was the main entree, but when the restaurant burst into applause, I immediately knew my decision was flawed. Out of the kitchen comes four large plates overflowing with meat; Chappapeela Farms porchetta to be exact. After a quick Google search I learned that porchetta is a boneless pork roast common in Italy. The pork roast was topped with okra and other vegetables and paired with a sweet vermouth and Pinot Noir beverage called the “Rise and Wine”. Oh, if I thought I was full before, I was truly being foolish!
For dessert, tiramisu, banana zuppa inglese and an extra large torta antica. The torta antica was a crowd favorite and disappeared before I had a chance to sneak in a spoonful. The night ended with an “Italian Affair” – a drink made up of Sobeski vodka, Frangelico liquor, cream de cocoa and fernet creme.