There’s a Mediterranean breeze blowing through the historic village of Old Wethersfield, culinarily speaking. Within the Deming-Standish House, and on its patio outside, Lucky Lou’s is serving up deliciousness in a casual atmosphere for all lovers of fine, fresh food. It’s creative burgers piled sky-high on brioche buns. It’s an ocean far and wide of fresh seafood—from shrimp to octopus to cod. It’s serious pub food, and a place so serious about its beef, it’s strictly grass-fed Certified Piedmontese®, straight from America’s heartland. It’s desserts that change with the seasons, proudly made in-house.
Owner and executive chef, Lucas Kyriakos sat down with CTbites for a tasting tour of his menu, and to share a bit of his background. He sees dinner or going out for a beverage as a time to cherish and savor with family and friends. “Let’s take our time and make a night out of it.” This is just the place to do it.
We began with two seasonal specials: one especially near and dear to my heart, stuffed zucchini flowers. Stuffed with ricotta, hot pepper, parsley and a little bit of anchovies, even Lucas admitted, “These are a treat.” Fresh from a local garden, they’re dipped in a batter of corn flour and white wine, seasoned just a little bit. The light, crispy coating was the perfect contrast for a creamy center with just a touch of sneaky heat. “To say it’s delicious is one thing, but to go wow and put your fork back down, that’s more impressive.” And that’s exactly what we did.
From there, we moved on to the oxymoronic jumbo shrimp cocktail—just look at the size of these things! “Those are U-6s, Gulf of Mexico. I started this special at the beginning of summer and every night, I sell out,” our host explains. Perched above a cup of spicy housemade cocktail sauce, they’re snappy and flavorful.
Now, here’s a little disclaimer: I generally don’t care for calamari. The texture is just not my favorite thing. But I’d gladly share these light little semolina-crusted rings with cherry peppers again on a future visit. It’s served with a simple marinara and some pesto.
We enjoyed a creamy Maryland blue crab chowder with a hint of heat, finished with Sherry.
“Octopus is our biggest appetizer seller here. It’s a delicacy. And it’s a tricky product to work with. It takes four steps to get it to where it was tonight. Do you like it?” I did. You can taste the char from the grill, then it’s just so tender inside. It’s plated with a summer salsa of tomatoes, peppers and onions to complement the dish with freshness and simplicity.
“Everybody who cooks with me cooks with passion. Everything you’re eating tonight has my heart right there. There’s a lot of love and heart on the plate,” said the chef. I’m a believer. A graduate of Peter Kump Culinary in Manhattan, now known as the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), Lucas has been running restaurants since he was 19 years old. “Always had this thing about creating. I like creating. Food was one of those things where I kept gravitating.” In the garden right outside, he grows his own herbs and some vegetables for the restaurant. “We have dill, marjoram, rosemary, lemon thyme, nasturtiums, eggplant and San Marzano tomatoes.”
Moving on to the main courses (more like MOOving on after our previous feast of appetizers), I was blown away by the filet mignon--especially since I had ordered one the night before at a local steakhouse right across the bridge. No contest. Not even the same league. Served rare, as requested, with a crust of freshly crushed peppercorns and my choice of Gorgonzola bourbon cream sauce, it was simply outstanding. The cauliflower mash that accompanied it was so fluffy, it was hard to imagine it was really only cauliflower, yet it was. The haricots verts, fresh from a Glastonbury farm, were tender-crisp and topped with a bit of lemon thyme butter.
Another main event, the lamb, with topped with tzatziki was yet another standout choice. Marinated for about two days in wine, herbs and citrus, it’s tender and oh-so flavorful. As artistic and beautifully presented as it was delicious, these rare chops came with a Yukon Gold mash and a Greek salsa of tomato, cucumber and onion.
I enjoyed our experience as invited guests so much, I returned to Lucky Lou’s several times on my own to continue exploring the menu and to take advantage of a pleasant, summer-breezy night on the patio. Sipping red sangria in the shade beneath tall trees and your table’s umbrella is a perfect way to relax and thoroughly enjoy a meal outside. If you like your cocktails fresh and fruity, but not overly sweet, you’ll love this as much as I do. Lucas makes the sangria every morning from his own special recipe, including pomegranate and mango, cognac, pomegranate vodka, rum, Grand Marnier and red wine. Served over ice with fresh cubes of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe on top, it’s delightfully refreshing. “There’re nights you look outside on the patio, and it’s all sangria. People love it.” I was tempted away from sangria one night when a blood orange margarita was the evening’s drink special. On the sweeter side of the street, give the mango punch a try. Like everything else, it’s nearly impossible to make a bad choice here.
On the "lighter" side, the surf ’n turf burger is piled generously with tender chunks of lobster salad, crispy bacon, lettuce and tomato, on a brioche bun. Lucas grinds the meat for all the burgers, 8 to 9 ounces in size. The shoestring fries are a terrific accompaniment, made even more so by a bit of lemon aioli on the side (by request) for dipping.
The same lobster salad, studded with finely minced celery and chives, is mixed with tarragon mayo and drizzled with a bit of butter, served on a lobster roll. It could make a lobster lover out of even the most serious landlubber! It’s also available as lobster sliders. Three tasty options—pick your favorite.
The pulled pork sliders are seasoned with dry rub, seared, then cooked slow ’n low for 12 to 14 hours and tossed in a sweet Texas BBQ glaze. Note the rolls. Ingredients are carefully chosen throughout the menu, and the attention to detail shows and pays off on the palate. These are topped with a crispy housemade slaw.
We brought one of our meals to a close with a bit of sweetness and (my favorite) an Illy cappuccino. A deliciously rummy Nutella pecan tiramisu is served à la mode with a scoop of rich maple walnut.
The smooth and creamy lemon cheesecake, made from strained Greek yogurt, is served with a sour cherry sauce on a plate drizzled with chocolate. Even the non-cheesecake fan at the table had more than one bite! It’s not the traditional recipe, dense with cream cheese. In contrast, it’s light and airy and all too easy to eat the whole thing (why, yes, I did).
I also enjoyed two cannoli, spiked with fresh orange flavor, made right on the premises, shells half-dipped in chocolate, served with a scoop of maple walnut ice cream. Though, who can eat two in one sitting? So I had one to stay and one to go.
From the waitstaff to the bartenders, service is attentive and friendly. They’re well-versed in the menu and are happy to help you decide between options. Or to make sure your water is filled or another drink is on the way, if you like. No matter what you choose at Lucky Lou’s, from beginning to end, you won’t be disappointed. And, as the menu changes throughout the seasons, you’ll always find something new to try and love.
222 Main Street in Wethersfield, CT.
This review encompasses several visits. Neither CTbites nor the author were compensated for this review; on certain visits the meal was provided without charge. The opinions contained herein are solely those of the author.