We were eager to get a look at Lüke, the new River Walk restaurant ensconced at one end of the Embassy Suites. It’s the sister of the acclaimed brasserie run by chef John Besh in New Orleans. At the helm here is Besh’s former sous chef, Stephen McHugh.
So we dropped by for lunch Friday, a beautiful fall day that was warm enough to sit outside. But we chose inside to get a good look at the ambiance of this newly constructed restaurant.
The interior has a turn-of-the-century (that would be the 1899-1900) feel with plenty of polished wood, metal-trimmed lamps and lighting, and bistro tables and chairs. A huge, fresh seafood display welcomes guests who come in from the Houston Street entrance. It’s at the end of a long, glossy stretch of bar while a herringbone pattern of mixed woods decorates the floor.
Service was snappy and pleasant, the view from our table to the foliage on the river was brilliant in the early afternoon sunshine.
The food measured up to our expectations. Lüke’s burger (cooked to order and topped with smoky bacon) was delicious. The beef was dense with good, beefsteak flavor. We liked that it was served exactly as we wanted it, a perfect medium, and that it came on a cutting board with a very sharp Languiole knife so that we could quarter it and pass it around.
A Cochon de Lait (literally “pig in milk” or, more loosely, “suckling pig”) sandwich was spectacular. The juicy, tender pork was laid over slices of ham with mustard and pickles. The New Orleans version of a Cuban sandwich, it was served with a thick mash of sauce on the side. It was a little sweet—our only criticism of the day.
Both came with excellent fries, not too soft and not too crunchy. Dipped in mayo, they were just right, though they might be even better in the evening when paired with one of the many beer choices from the brasserie’s well-chosen list.