An Opening Date for Luc (Almost)

Thierry Rautureau is a busy man. First, he's got his flagship restaurant, Rover's, to oversee at 2808 E. Madison. He's got a book out (Rover's: Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat). He does a radio show with Tom Douglas every Saturday on KIRO. He does TV, charity work, has products to pimp and, of course, his hats to keep in order.

And soon, he's going to be getting a whole lot busier because he and his staff have picked a tentative date for the opening of Rautureau's newest venture--Luc, just a door away from Rover's at 2800 Madison. According to Scot Smith (who runs the front of the house at Rover's and serves as Rautureau's wine director), everyone is hoping for an opening "on Tax Day--April 15."

Of course, that's dependent on many things. "Ideally, we were looking at March," Smith told me. "But permits and such..." and he let his voice trail off in such a way that anyone who has ever had dealings with the restaurant industry would understand to meant ...became somewhat more complicated than we'd planned.

Why? Because "permits and such" are always more complicated than anyone plans. Because openings are rarely smooth and never easy and a one-month delay? That's nothing. I've known places that were held up in permitting limbo for a year, longer even. Moving a drain one inch to the left, ripping up an entire city street to get at the sewer mains beneath--you just never know what's going to happen until the inspectors actually show up with pens in hand.

What's more, Luc is not exactly a simple or straightforward concept. It's actually a bit of an industry three-fer--a combination bar, restaurant and take-out service meant to address three very separate and (in Rautureau's mind, desperate) needs in the area.

One, "There's no place to really belly up," according to Smith. Luc's bar will take care of that.

Two, the neighborhood needed, "a place to sit at the bar and get really quality food." That's where Luc's kitchen will come in, a combination French brasserie and Mediterranean cafe line with pizzas from the oven and steak frites on the floor, running the gamut from cheeseburgers to beef Bourguignon. Smith said that the menu, while not yet completely finished, will be "French-driven with a hint of Mediterranean," and the space itself will be "bar-driven, with a bistro feel, and very family-friendly."

Which brings us to thing three: Rautureau's desire to offer to the community a place where they can get excellent quality take-away meals prepared by the Luc kitchen. Thus, Luc 2 Go--a separate-but-equal take-away operation. The way Smith described it, Luc 2 Go will offer "a few select items," off the regular menu, providing folks with the opportunity to "get a nice meal, take it home and feed their families."

And as if all of this wasn't already complicated enough, Rautureau also has a pretty cool idea for dealing with the problem of all those styrofoam take-out boxes he'd likely be generating: He won't use any.

Though it's not yet finalized, Smith explained that the house was looking at serving the take-out grub on actual plates or servingware which the customers will be able to take home with them. There'll be a small deposit which would be returned when the plates are returned, but seriously? That's some smart thinking. First, because yeah, it's being nice to the planet. But second, because it's giving people a monetary incentive to come back to Luc to make their returns. And what are the odds that, once inside, they'll be tempted to just pick up another round of to-go food for the nuclear unit? I'm guessing they're pretty high.

Anyway, for those of you interested in getting a sneak peek at the Luc menu as it comes together, Rover's is currently using it as the basis for its ever-changing prix fixe board. Four courses, $55 (and wine pairing are available), and the whole thing is called "A Tribute to Luc Fare," and will be running for the next six weeks.

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