$13 meeellion dollars. For reals, yo. Pimp-ass fools spent $13m on a restaurant. So much for the recession. Last night I had the opportunity to dine at the spanking new 25 Lusk. The restaurant is housed in a former brick-n-timber smokehouse and is tres sexy. I've read a lot about this place, mostly regarding the design and the team of partners that include an Emeril alumn and some seriously rich dudes.
First let me talk about the space. The place is clearly designed. To the hilt. Every detail is covered, with interesting sight lines and textural contrasts, insane lighting and nooks-n-crannies to get lost. There will definitely be a cocktail crowd here and they plan to serve the full menu in the smokehouse / bar area (which has low ceilings, a lot of exposed concrete, reinforced steel and conduit). There are various lounge settings with ski-house looking floating fireplaces. I wish that this place would attract the food obsessed and laid-back sorts, but I fear the douche factor could take over easily. This space has FIDI 'play-ah' written all over it.
Upstairs the vibe is more open. There is an amazing private dining room encased in glass that will certainly attract celebs and the SF elite. The main dining area is lovely, but it didn't give me a wow moment like downstairs. That's a lot of money for 'meh'. And, while the bathrooms are lovely, I think the material choices were based on form and not function. The stone floors show the drops of water as you reach for your towel and the sinks get trashed after a few washings. The men's urinal seems to have some technology that creates an artistic pattern out the impact of your stream. I could have peed all night.
The menu is currently limited to a dozen or so items and each thing we had was good to exceptional. Standout was a cauliflower creme brulée. It's the real deal and surprisingly incorporated truffles with success. The arugula salad was salty and uninspired but the pork cheek terrine more than made up for it. It was a little crispy on the outside and moist in the middle with a hint of sweet. A lovely cube of well-handled animal flesh. The only main we tried was the braised short ribs. There was a nice fat ratio and the sauce was a sublime wine demi that brought me back for dipping. Other mains looked solid - not a lot of risks here.
Cocktails continue the trend of innovation, and outshining the food. A lineup of playful, yet well-crafted drinks should make for some happy houring. The dessert menu didn't scream, so we passed. I'm wondering if they'll step it up when the menu kicks in full gear. I think desserts could really shine in this environment.
In general I think 25 Lusk is destined to establish itself in our dining landscape. While they play it safe on the menu, the food plays well off the decor. My concern is how could they possibly live up to the money they invested. They opened on Saturday and I suppose word is still getting around, as the place was fairly empty on Monday night. I'm guessing nobody is in this to make money.