Do you know him?
He is Thierry Rautureau, a French-born chef, known for his ever-present fedora – he moved to Seattle and opened his first restaurant, Rover’s, in August 1987.
In fact, you might have seen him on Top Chef Masters Season 2!! That’s where I first “discovered” him and became immediately entranced by his demeanor, sense of humor and of course, he hailed from Seattle – one of three chefs to make it to Top Chef that had ever worked in or owned restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. A piece of home!
My best friend and I had been looking for a Top Chef contestant’s restaurant to pop up in Seattle since Season 3 aired, so that we could say that we had dined in a Top Chef’s restaurant and once I saw that The Chef in the Hat had BOTH of his restaurants in Seattle, I knew where my hubby and I could dine for a date night with my best friend and her husband during our quick vacation back to the States.
We were all pretty interested in going to Luc – mostly for the type of food offered, rather than Rover’s which is a bit more upscale, costly and traditionally French. We made reservations, Mei’s aunt offered to babysit Mei for a day so we could have our “date night” – the first true date night since Mei had been born, and we set off to dinner!
Not to mention, I’m absolutely in love with Top Chef and eagerly await each season to air and no matter what – purchase the season pass on iTunes. It’s great by the way, if you don’t have cable or don’t live in the States to purchase it on iTunes; you get all the behind the scenes bits, the reunion episode that has never seen a re-run on regular cable so you can’t miss it, and of course each full episode that airs. It’s truly a treat for three months of the year!
The ambiance in Luc was pretty cool and I immediately noticed a bartender wearing a black fedora. Cousin? Or just jealous? Possibly even just that excited to be working in The Chef in the Hat’s restaurant. My best friend and I both opted for the prix fixe menu, so that we could try each a starter, entree and dessert for less than the cost of selecting each off the main menu. She went with a fresh parsnip soup with crispy parsnip curls on top, and I went with a butter lettuce salad with a red wine vinaigrette, walnuts and cheese. They were both pretty fantastic – yet simple.
We invited another, mutual friend of ours to join us for dinner and she had the fish special which was just-in-season halibut, served with a rosy, pink beet sauce, a house salad on bottom and some sort of veggie salad on top – it looked the most fantastic of the dishes for the evening.
The husbands both had the same dish, the burger with Luc’s aioli, tomato jam, caramelized onion and house fries – which all three of us girls thought were good enough to just eat basket after basket of, given a couple drinks and another night there. They didn’t think much of the burger … but honestly, the burger is not really a Frenchman’s forte. Really.
My best friend and I had the same entree, a grilled chicken breast on a bed of French, green lentils, kale and topped with a poached egg. It was divine. Each bite was moist and heavenly … I should put poached eggs with more of my meats. Honestly. And I had just had French lentils for the first time in the weeks before we left for Seattle as a part of a French Friday’s with Dorie recipe and plan to have lentils more often – they are pretty amazing. If you haven’t tried them, you should. I dont know about any lentils aside from the French green variety from Puy, France but I’m happy to limit my exposure to just these lentils for the rest of my life. They were THAT good.
For dessert, I had the creme caramel – which is most akin to creme brulee but the caramel has not been bruleed and the creme has been unmolded and served with a bit of fresh whipped cream. Perfect, luscious and each bite was divinely silky. My best friend – the only other person to get dessert had the chocolate caramel cake and finished each bite before I managed to get my camera from the bottom of my bag, where it had re-located itself to by the end of the entree course… and I was too buys spooning bites of my creme caramel away to bother with photos… so you will just have to use your imagination or visit Luc, and the Chef in the Hat, yourself.
After dinner was over, we sat, enjoying what was left of our desserts when lo and behold, The Chef in the Hat himself walked up to our table, enquiring about our meals and how we enjoyed his restaurant and food! He doesn’t cook in Luc’s but he does cook, on the line at Rover’s just two doors down, but visits his diners nightly at Luc’s.
I was pretty thrilled, and hid it well, as we carried on a conversation with him and all took turns remarking on how each dish we had tasted… then I asked him if the bartender in the fedora was a family member… “just jealous” – Thierry replied. We all laughed and he explained how even on TV they would bleep him out due to how great he was! LOL! He has the same sense of humor and personality in person and it was truly the best nightcap one could ask for.
If you would like to visit his restaurant or find out more about the Chef in the Hat, please click here. If you are in the Seattle area, his restaurants are located in a very quiet neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle and totally worth having a meal at. You won’t be sorry!