Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lackluster Night at Lulu's

Lulu's Creperie Cafe
24781 Alicia Pkwy.
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Oh, the perils of restaurant week! Perusing menus, finding time to go to the restaurants, and then making reservations, so you will not be shut out all the good food. Okay, so it is not really so much a chore, but one of the best times of the year for a food blogger!

I was thinking though, how is it for the restaurants themselves. First, they have to put together a menu that people will want to partake of. Next, they have one shot to make a great impression. Then lastly, they have to hope that it will create return business. For established restaurants in high traffic areas the pressure has to be less, but for local, out of the way restaurants hidden in strip centers, they must feel this is their one shot to  impress customers that would normally eat elsewhere.

This brings us to Lulu's in Laguna Hills. I have driven by here for over ten years now, and have never stopped. I don't know why. I have heard good things about it. They have great reviews on Urbanspoon and Yelp. I have been told that the breakfasts are very good. Even Katie's sister, Sara, had one of her wedding showers here, and loved it. So when we saw that this was going to be a restaurant week spot, we had to go.

We had reservations at 7 on a Tuesday night. The restaurant is small, and the decor is very frilly. Kind of like a country cottage. The place was very busy when we walked in, but that was just the end of the dinner rush, because when we left we were just one of five parties left in the joint. While we were there, a singer was belting out a mellow tune with her great voice. We were informed that they did not have their regular menu tonight, that they were only serving their OC Restaurant week menu. That was fine for Katie and I, but Kevin and Sara  do not like to be restricted when it comes to food, so they had a hard time coming up with something to choose from. More on that later, let's check out the food.

Here is a quick shot of the bread basket. Your basic baguette sliced up. The bread was fair, but for some reason the butter here was very creamy. It was served in pads, but they were too cold to spread. I know places have to keep butter refrigerated, but if you are crowded, stick a bunch of butter packets out to get close to room temperature for easy spreading. Sorry, got a little side tracked there.

All four of us got the same appetizer, the Lobster Ravioli, proving that great minds do think alike. These odd looking ravioli had a very good sauce on them, and the ravioli itself was filled with lobster. Cooked well, I ate these very quickly.

Both Katie and Sara went with the Mixed Green Salad with Strawberries and Walnut Oil Dressing. Katie felt that this salad was plain tasting, while Sara could not hide her disdain for this earthy salad.

Both Kevin and I opted for the French Onion Soup. A no-brainer in a cafe that is French. This soup came out scalding hot. I was so hungry, I burnt my mouth because I could not wait to try this. The soup was very good and featured lots of onions. The cheese on this was good as well. Not too salty, I would definitely get this again.

We will start the main dishes off with Katie's choice for the night. Crepe La Mer featured shrimp, scallops, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and shallots in cream sauce. The bite of this that I had was okay, and Katie did admit that this dish was, "a little off". There were also temperature issues with this dish, it would be best described as lukewarm.

I had my choice between the duck or the lamb. I chose the Braised Lamb Shank. The taste of this was average, but the real disappointment with this was the lack of meat on the shank. I seriously only got about five bites of meat off of this thing. Very fatty piece. The veggies and mashed potatoes did not help this plate out at all. They, like Katie's meal came out cold. The mashed potatoes lacked flavor and could only be eaten with the remainder of the sauce on my plate. Should have gone with the duck.

So remember when I said that Kevin and Sara do not like to be pigeon-holed into food choices. Well, this is what they both came up with. Pasta with vegetables. This plain looking dish did not impress either one of them, but really how could it? No fault of Lulu's here, except that the pasta came out cold. Seems like a theme to me.

Now for the grand finale dessert. We each got a different one, so we could pass them around the table. Out of the four, the Bananas Flambe Crepe was the best. Great banana flavor, the crepe cooked perfectly, and the sauce was good without being too sweet. Really good dessert. No one was that excited over the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, except for me. I liked the smoothness of it, and the top was caramelized well. The cheesecake was a crowd favorite as well, it was very dense. Lastly, Kevin was a happy guy after having the Chocolate Ganache Cake. This rich cake would satisfy the chocolate cravings in anyone.

I was not too impressed with Lulu's. The main dishes all left something to be desired. One of the problems with restaurant week, is that you have a choice of four meals, and if you do not pick the right one, you probably will not go back. I would go back to Lulu's though. I would give them another shot because they seemed to be a little over-whelmed by the crowd they had here this night.  I could see flashes of why they get good reviews on-line, and I would like to try their breakfast as well. But for now...

Out of five cyclecar's, (because the Kearn's Car company put out a cyclecar named the Lulu in 1914), five being best to zero being worst, Lulu's gets 2 cyclecars.

For more information on Lulu's, click here:

Lulu's Creperie Cafe on Urbanspoon

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