we don't get downtown very often (what's that you say, "aren't rooster and sen thai reason enough?" puh-lease.), but the food at lucas park grille is good enough to bring us back sooner rather than later.
when you first walk through lucas park grille's door, you find yourself in the midst of a dimly-lit bar area. the vibe is a bit strange, straddling the world's of suits and urban hipsters (what i call "yupservatives"). we opted not to sit in the bar area, as smoking is still fair game, and we made our way to the back room, where we found ourselves seated in front of a lovely, fully functional fireplace. the table settings are conservatively adorned, with white linens and blase glasses. the chairs only enhance the feeling of 1980's wall street power lunches, as they're plushy and fabricky in all the ways that, for some reason, make me feel claustrophobic. and there was an exposed outlet near the fireplace. eek!
our head waiter was a helluva guy, who seemed to want nothing more than to cater to us exclusively. once we explained that we were only interested in vegetarian options, he perked up and looked damn near excited to let us know what lucas park had to offer. we tested him, too, by inquiring about the stock used for the risotto, and he promptly got word from the kitchen that the dish was safe for vegetarians. jackpot. he also recommended a wine tasting for us that would go best with our vegetarian dishes, and his suggestion was spot on.
we started the evening with a bread basket and a ramekin of too-cold-to-spread butter. still, the bread was good enough and just the right amount to sate our appetites before the roasted red pepper hummus arrived. as is typical of most restaurants serving hummus, pita was the platform we were forced to use for shoveling, but the point here is that the hummus was so good that we wanted to shovel it in. it's so good, in fact, that it nearly matches schlafly's. we were so happy with the hummus that we both said it didn't matter if the rest of the food were garbage. that there's some good hummus, y'all. from there, we moved onto the vegetarian meatballs and the missouri forest mushrooms risotto. both entrees were worthy of praise, but it was the meatballs that had us fighting each other for more and bigger bites. the ratatouille was divine, the house-made mozzarella was sinfully rich and smooth, and the match meatballs were of the highest quality (thank you, match!). (by the way, if you haven't tried match products, you need to do so immediately.) we sopped up the last traces of sauce with our bread, and we lay back into the plushy chairs to wait for our dessert: bread pudding. awww, yeah. obviously, we didn't need the sugary send-off, but we rarely have the strength to pass up bread pudding. fortunately, lucas park's bread pudding was every bit as good as the rest of the meal. sticky and warm, caramel-ly, and not too dense, the bread pudding put us in the trees, people. hello, bliss; hello, food coma. what a meal!