by Chelsea Gilbert
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER
After asking our party of five if we had eaten at Luscious before (we hadn’t), our waiter launched into a brief spiel about the concept behind the new restaurant.
The restaurant (located on Colville and Main) is built around the idea of seasonal cooking. Only local food and beverages are served, and all of the food is organic or sustainably grown. The menu changes seven times a year in order to utilize the different foods that become ripe seasonally. The Autumn-Crush Menu, which will run through Nov. 27, is their current menu. But don’t think the theme is limited to just the menu. The walls are covered with seasonal art entitled “A Luscious Harvest” by a local artist Todd Telander.
As soon as you walk in the door, it’s clear that Luscious is not exclusively a restaurant. Loosely divided into three different areas, Luscious features a deli with a casual eating area (the food in the deli and the food served in the restaurant is made from scratch daily), a small shop that sells organic jams, kitchen products and the like, and the restaurant itself. Luscious also hosts a full cocktail bar.
The restaurant’s interior is nice, but not fancy. There are no white tablecloths here—instead, they opt for a cozy, simple feel. The décor has the (arguably) beneficial effect of making you feel, once you step through the door, that you’re no longer in Walla Walla.
The restaurant is on the smaller side, though heated patio dining is also available. On a Thursday night, we noticed that the restaurant was busy, but not crowded enough to require a reservation.
For those of you who are of legal age, the menu boasts an impressive list of intriguing cocktails. “A Pearfect Pear” is as perfect as its name implies. The sweet, light green cocktail, complete with several slices of crisp pear tastes exactly like the fruit.
At $9.23, though, these cocktails do come at a steep price.
The “Dark and Stormy” is a drink for people who can hold their liquor. Though strong, it is not deterrently so. Its citrus tang is described by the menu as a “Caribbean concoction for contemplative cowboys.”
The “Naughty Boy Scout” turned out to be entirely different from what our dinner party had expected, though, in hindsight, perhaps we should have been warned by the drink’s description: “campfire +contraband = trouble.” The drink is served hot and tastes like you are drinking, well, a campfire. It would have likely tasted better if paired with a rich dessert to offset its strong taste.
The fact that Luscious pours local wines is hardly unique in Walla Walla. Even our waiter admitted that their commitment to local vintages was a downfall, saying the nearby winery in Dayton was nothing special.
From drinks, we moved on to appetizers (called Plates to Share on the menu). The cheese & organic fruit plate included an array of thin apple and pear slices, shelled almonds, warm bread and about three different types of spreadable cheeses. The plate could probably serve about four people comfortably and was enthusiastically approved by everyone at our table.
The Autumn salads are generally satisfying enough to eat as a meal—especially if you plan to order from elsewhere on the menu. Their dressings are light enough that they don’t overshadow some of the salads’ unique flavors—augmented by beets, goat cheese, green apples and pears—and are reasonably priced at around $12 each.
Our dinner party enjoyed a number of the entrées. The “Duck a la Walla” was moist. The “Molten baby back ribs” had the right balance of sweet and salty and were, according my dining companion, comparable to the ribs at The Backstage Bistro (a local restaurant that advertises its “world famous BBQ” ad nasuem).
The menu’s meatballs had the perfect amount of spice that didn’t overwhelm the palate. Not a meatball fan myself, I even found myself enjoying the restaurant’s refined version of an old classic.
The menu has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available. There is a vegan vegetable lasagna, and a vegetarian risotto and polenta. The portions are not huge, but they’re nowhere near meager either. An impressive list of $5 side dishes is also available if you feel the need to supplement your meal with a little something extra.
The presentation of the meals is beautiful. The food is tastefully arranged on square white plates, and somewhat resembles the presentation found at 26brix.
Ordering dessert proved to be an exercise in frustration. There was no actual dessert menu (the menu says that their desserts change daily) and so the waiter listed off their selection.
First, we ordered a slice of chocolate cake. After a few moments, our waiter came back to let us know that they were all out of chocolate cake. Disappointed, but not discouraged, we ordered the cheesecake. Turns out they were out of that. Finally, we settled on the lemon bar which the waiter guaranteed us actually existed.
Though we were prepared to not like the dessert, it was undeniably delicious. The lemon bar can easily serve 2-4 people and had a side of delicious homemade whipped cream. Because of the generous sizes, I would suggest ordering dessert to share.
Everyone was happy with their meals, but the general consensus was that the food, while very good, wasn’t quite amazing. It is Luscious’ atmosphere, unique commitment to locally grown organic foods, and availability of vegan meals that makes it really stand out amongst the slew of other Walla Walla restaurants.