Spotlight on: Lucques. A West Hollywood secret garden that’s hardly a secret anymore.

Parking tickets are an inevitable fixture of Los Angeles. I turned my chin up at the 20-minute meter. ‘I won’t let you ruin my lunch,’ I said to the metal, money-sucking rod. I requested a table under the canopy situated in the back of the restaurant, my favorite part of the space. Lucques was peacefully quiet, and I quickly shed the road-rage that had previously consumed nearly an hour of my afternoon due to the tempestuous traffic on the Santa Monica Highway. 

The beautiful garden seating area at Lucques.

Suzanne Goin, known for her creative, intimate Sunday Suppers, cultivated a name for herself amongst the country’s most respected and influential chefs. Her menu is as lovingly and thoughtfully crafted as her restaurant, with its muted tones, vines growing up the walls, and garden accouterments. Each ingredient is carefully chosen from the local markets, each an intricate part of the dish. Suzanne utilizes the freshest foods found in Southern California’s backyard in natural yet novel ways. Nothing is used haphazardly, nothing just thrown on for the purpose of using a product that happens to be trendyat the moment. Her food styling is artfully composed yet approachable: delight in its appearance and then feel free to un-do its exquisiteness.

For my late weekday lunch, I ordered the beluga lentil salad with avocado, arugula, and thinly sliced radishes. It was dressed in a simple lemon-based dressing and was just the right size for a late lunch. The lentils were cooked to perfection: tender but not mushy while the radishes gave the salad a sharper texture. The avocado was a creamy indulgence and complimented the meaty lentils.

I often visit Lucques’ website to marvel at the ever-changing menu, new offerings added or popular dishes altered at the first signs of various, seasonal produce at the market. This is a chef whose appreciation for food, local product, and the entire dining experience is omnipresent and unfaltering. From the attentive, friendly staff to the tranquil romantically rustic ambience to the sensational desserts, Suzanne has achieved an enviable level of success and elegance at Lucques.

I walked through the oversized, wooden door back out onto Melrose feeling sufficiently satisfied and a bit entranced. As I rounded the corner onto the side street, I was shocked to find my windshield sans-ticket. Nevertheless, I would have gladly paid the pesky parking piper an extra $25 after my lovely afternoon at Lucques.

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