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Lucia — Hotel Andaluz (Closed)



Is Lucia DID? 

First visit: May 1, 2010
Latest visit: January 8, 2011 

Best Newcomer

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or, simply, alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. In this review, I will use a journalistic trick of anthropomorphizing Lucia and its kitchen in an attempt to try to understand some strange, and somewhat bizarre, experiences that I along with my dining companions found on our two visits to Lucia.

The occasion of my first visit was to celebrate with my wife our 33rd wedding anniversary last May. I had heard and read glowing accounts of Lucia from many trusted gastronomes, including my friend Gil Garduño. They didn't lie: Our experience that night was perfect - -a term that I use with great care.

Lucia — Beautiful Space

Lucia — Beautiful Space

King Crab Legs first course with a hint of red chile were superb. Not the usual treatment afforded these sweet morsels (often served waterlogged and served with insipid drawn butter). A plate of grilled oysters with smoked chile-chive-oil mojo has been best described by Ari LeVaux in his charming Alibi review, and I concur with every word. The Seared Sea Scallops & Sugared Shrimp have been expertly described by my friend Forked Tongue writing in the Urbanspoon pages. I can't add anything new, nor can I say it better. The very best seafood entrée I have had in New Mexico. Even the chocolate cake was incredible -- something very special.

Service was perfect. The rehab of the Hotel Andaluz is stunning. After our meal, we spent some time in the hotel lobby listening to a young (and very good) salsa band, to which many of the guests were dancing. Go there. Revel in the experience.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I wanted to share this experience with dear friends Sally and Andy from Taos, both seasoned gastronomes, so Jane and I took them to Lucia for brunch on July fourth. We had raved to them about our perfect anniversary dinner, and were quite surprised to find the perfect Lucia replaced by an alter, who appeared to be a trickster. Our food was inconsistent. My Lemon-Ricotta pancakes were close to being perfect. Texture and taste were exemplary. Andy's coffee drink, a shot in the dark (which he instructed our server how to make), was perfect -- the best he had ever had. Then things started to slide downhill. Three poached egg dishes were poorly prepared (yolks were hard. Like hard boiled eggs.). Our server (David, a charming, effervescent, and efficient UNM Computer Engineering student) had the kitchen redo Jane's eggs, which came out correctly the second time. The accompanying rosemary potatos were a disappointment. Ho Hum. We ordered a basket of pastries and scones. They were delivered to the table ice cold and late. The server remedied this, and, once warmed slightly, they were fabulous. And so it went.

Eggs Benedict

So, the trickster alter got us on this visit. Not that the meal was bad -- it still, despite the kitchen gaffes, was quite good. Lucia has aspersions to greatness. In order to climb to that pinnacle, perhaps they need a psychologist to reconcile the alters. I will be happy to recommend one. I live with her.

Remember that I said that our first meal there was perfect. I fully expect that consistency and attention to detail will lead to greatness. The trickster has to go. I surely will return. I hope I don't find a third alter.

Return to Lucia. Is She Still DID? Probably Not...

We first went to Lucia for special anniversary dinner (our 33rd) on April 30 that turned out to be perfect in every way. Our last visit was on January 15, and we decided to make a weekend of it, staying overnight in the Hotel Andaluz. A wise choice.

Our experience in Lucia was nearly perfect this time. We feasted on

 

In short, everything was superb again. I cannot think of any way that each dish could be improved.

Why did I say that this visit was nearly perfect? Even though the Three Berry Cobbler was excellent, the dessert menu lists some retro selections: Root Beer Float, Banana Split, Apple Pie ala Mode, Hot Fudge Sundae, and a few others. This retro collection is not really up to the standards set by Lucia for the rest of our dining experience. There is an excellent pastry chef—we had expected a more imaginative and carefully crafted selection.
The chef needs to invent a fantastic bread pudding (even though it's retro) and offer it every day. I know several gastronomes who will break down the doors for this. Me first.

Back to the DID diagnosis. I have noticed that some of the reviews published on Urbanspoon since my first visit are somewhat negative. The original chef, Albert Bilotti, left Lucia in early May 2010 shortly after our first visit, and was replaced by his capable assistant, Israel Ortiz, a fine chef in his own right. Ortiz kept some of the original dishes on the menu and added many that displayed his special expertise (like those fantastic sardines). He is excellent. Perhaps the gaffes that we experienced during our second visit may have been due to this changing of the guard. And it is possible that this change may be partially responsible for some of the more recent negative reviews.

Perhaps the DID diagnosis was an aberration—we shall see.

The ambiance and service is befitting a fine restaurant. Our server, the lovely and charming Elizabeth, is knowledgeable and helpful. Talkative, too. She has been there since day one, and knows where the bodies are buried.

Rooftop Patio Fire Fountain

A weekend at Andaluz is a special treat. The rehab has made this place perhaps the finest hotel in the Duke City. Good music and dancing, and delightful lounges (both indoor and outside on the rooftop patio). Pamper yourself. And be sure to try the expansive breakfast buffet in the morning.

I still feel that Lucia is one of the finest restaurants in town, and is destined for greatness. I expect to be back for our 35th anniversary. And I will ask for Elizabeth (she reads these reviews) to be our server again.

Note added November 6, 2011:

Israel Ortiz is no longer chef at Lucia. Chef Michael Von Blomberg (formerly of Seasons) now  tempts the palates of Lucia diners with innovative combinations of the freshest local ingredients.

Lucia

Lucia — Andaluz Honorable Mention 

(505) 242-9090

Downtown
125 Second Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
www.hotelandaluz.com/lucia/ 
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View the menu (.pdf)

Lucia Hours Lucia on Urbanspoon

 

 


Post date: 2011-06-16 08:03:58
Post date GMT: 2011-06-16 15:03:58
Post modified date: 2014-07-13 08:50:52
Post modified date GMT: 2014-07-13 15:50:52

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