Lumiere French Kitchen finally opened in Myers Park last night and to be quite honest… they still had a lot of kinks to work on. We’ve got Charlotte’s first recap on the highly anticipated opening and its probably a little more doom & gloom than anybody will like. Lumiere is the latest creation from the duo that brought The Liberty to Charlotte’s Historic South End neighborhood. Their goal is to “Shine the spotlight once again on fine French Cuisine in Charlotte”. After spending 2.5 hours at Lumiere on opening night I can say without hesitation that their light is a little dim at the moment.
Opening night was suppose to be Valentines Day but due to the Catastrophic Winter Weather aka “snowfall” their liquor license wasn’t ready in time and the opening night was postponed to Saturday night. Luckily for us our reservations were already set for 8:30pm Saturday night and we arrived right on time. Our hostess was polite and our table was ready within 10 minutes of arriving. From the beginning I was torn between the pure beauty of the open kitchen design and how incredibly loud the restaurant was.
The decor is clean, chic, utilizes abstract shapes, paintings, and simple French touches throughout. Mix beautiful hard surface decor with a tiny space and what do you get??? Thats right… ITS TOO DAMN LOUD!!!!!!!
Fast forward another hour and we get to the point where we finally got our appetizers, A WHOLE HOUR! We got the Chèvre stuffed Moroccan dates salad featuring Tega Hills farm lettuce, blood orange, hazelnuts, beetroot, and citrus vinaigrette. I’m not sure if it was because the sweet dates played off of the sour vinaigrette with a perfect balance from the bitter greens and earth beet roots, or because I was starving, but I really enjoyed the salad.
We also got the butter poached langoustines with butternut squash risotto and shaved winter truffles. The risotto was rich and paired nicely with the sweet butternut squash, but I found it to be a little more than al dente. The langoustine may have been good, unfortunately there was only one tiny piece mixed in with the risotto and I missed it.
Forty five minutes later our entrees arrived and they almost tasted as good as they looked. We noticed several times throughout the night that when the food was finished it sat under the heat lamps for at least a couple minutes… then they were moved to a ledge for a couple minutes.. and several times they came back to the ledge for a couple minutes because the staff forgot to clear the app plates before bringing the next course. All of that waiting around made for food that was less than ideal by the time it finally made its way to the table.
For our entrees we went with the pot-roast loin chop of wild boar braised belly, choucroute of cabbage and gratin of truffled macaroni. The pot-roast loin chops were cooked perfectly (but should have been warmer) and seasoned pretty well. The choucroute of cabbage tasted weak and quickly got lost under the loin chops. The gratin of truffled macaroni really needed to lay off the truffle crutch and mix in more cheese. As for the braised wild boar belly, HOLY SHIT that was delicious. Tender, crispy, savory, sweet, and definitely a little sinful… the braised belly was the best thing I ate for the night. The braised belly only got better when it was coupled with the (lack of cheesy) truffled macaroni in one single last bite.
We also got the organic lamb chops with braised lamb shanks and roasted Jerusalem artichokes. This is where the night got a little better. The lamb was cooked perfectly and I really enjoyed having the two different cooking techniques. The accompaniment were good but overall pretty forgettable.
The dessert round is the one we were most excited about thanks to the recently posted dessert pictures on Lumiere’s facebook page and on the website. Unfortunately for us the pictures shown weren’t what was actually available… see example below.
Doesn’t that look incredible? Well get over it because its not something you can order from the dessert menu (at least for the time being). so with a heavy heart and sad faces we opted for the tarte tatin with Crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream and then the vanilla bean crème brûlée with macerated strawberries and assorted mini pastries. Both desserts arrived at the 2 hour mark and were delicious but neither of them lived up to the hype we had built up in our minds.
Lumiere wants to live up to the memory of La Bibliotheque and Patou but they’ve got some kinks to work out. Its too loud, the service was slow, but execution and communication within the staff appeared to be the biggest issue at the moment. They have an incredible concept with a great menu and we really hope they grow into a very successful restaurant with many years ahead of them.