Lucilla has been on our “try it” list for quite a while. They specialize in New American cuisine that blends southern traditions with contemporary elements to create some very unique dishes. I was in the mood to try someplace new for our August date night and decided it was time for us to visit.
We have had contractors in doing multiple overlapping projects this month, so I didn’t get to plan this date night ahead of time. You can do reservations by phone or email. When I called last Tuesday, they were able to give us a table for Saturday at 6:30. Based on what I saw while we were there, I would recommend planning a bit more ahead than I did. Lucilla is located at 1241 E Lafayette St just west of Magnolia. It is set back from the road, so watch for the sign. They have parking right next to the restaurant.
The main dining room is decorated in a relaxed style. One thing we really liked is the tables are a nice size so you don’t have to keep moving things during the meal. Ours had booth-style seating on one side that was big enough that Teresa and I could sit side by side. Our server, Anna, came over to greet us just after we sat down. Lucilla has an interesting wine list. Teresa and I ordered two glasses of the Dibon Cava Brut Reserve, a sparkling Spanish wine we really enjoyed. The menu is laid out with small plates, salads, and large plates. There were some interesting choices that reflected southern roots like fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese fritters, and shrimp, scallops & grits. Based on Anna’s thoughtful recommendations, we chose a small plate to start, a salad, and then some gulf fish which we hadn’t had in a very long time.
Crispy Fried Oysters
We started with the Crispy Fried Oysters. These were served with three sauces. These were a creole aioli-datil, a pepper cocktail sauce, and a champagne mignonette. The presentation was very appealing. The oysters were fried perfectly. The batter was light and very flavorful. We tried all of the sauces. Each complimented the oysters well. The aioli was our favorite. There were eight oysters, so it was a nice sharing plate, but they were so good I almost wanted one just to myself.
Goat Cheese Salad
For our middle course we had the Goat Cheese Salad. The goat cheese was served as two warm fried cakes on a bed of spring greens. It was served with grape tomatoes, asparagus, artichoke hearts, and pecans. The dressing was a black garlic vinaigrette. They also served us a basket of hot bread. All of the elements of the salad were prepared perfectly and blended into a delicious bite. The hot bread was great with the salad. The dish is very “acid forward.” The one comment we made to Anna was it might be nice to add something with a sweet note like candied pecans or a drizzle of honey.
Blackened Mahi Mahi
For our main dish we had Blackened Mahi Mahi. This is one of my favorites, but I don’t think we have had it since we lived in Islamorada in the Keys. They took the time to split the plate for us since we were sharing. We really appreciated that. The fish was “ocean fresh”, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of blackening. It was flaky and really delicious. It was served with a crawfish risotto, garlic spinach, and a key lime beurre blanc. These really complimented the fish. I could almost go back and order the risotto all by itself. I think this will be our “go to dish” when we want fish in the future, but we might have to try the Grouper St. Charles first. It is supposed to be fabulous.
Meyer Lemon Crème Brûlée
A good crème brûlée is Teresa’s favorite dessert. Lucilla offers two. The first is honey lavender vanilla bean and the second is the one made with meyer lemons. Teresa ordered the second one. The plating for this dish was stunning. It reminded Teresa of a friend who always took out his special plates to serve friends. When Teresa cracked open the top, you could tell the crème brûlée was perfectly prepared. The mouth feel and flavor were fabulous. It was like a key lime pie and crème brûlée had a love child. Teresa’s favorite crème brûlée is from Pascal’s in Coral Gables. She ranked Lucilla’s with it and maybe even a notch above.
Salted Butterscotch Pots De Crème
Lucilla’s offers some very unique desserts. I wanted to try something I could not have anywhere else. I decided on the Salted Butterscotch Pots De Crèmes. I also ordered us a glass of the Broadbent 20 Year Tawny Port. I am not a huge butterscotch lover, but this dish was so unique I had to try it. The plating on this dish felt very warm and homey. The butterscotch is like a pudding. It is served with a shortbread cookie and whipped cream. The flavor was very rich. I have to confess that i mixed the cream and pudding together. After that, an interesting dish became fabulously delicious! The port was deeply flavorful and really smooth. It really complimented both desserts.
A Fabulous Date with Southern Style
We had a really wonderful date night. We were very excited to discover another really fabulous dining experience here in Tallahassee. It was more “sophisticated” than we had expected. The food was fresh, flavorful, and exceptionally well prepared. Our server Anna was knowledgeable and very attentive. The meal was well paced and Anna made it very easy for us to share the dishes by having fresh plates and utensils on the table before each course was served. They split the main dish for us which we really appreciated. We got a chance to talk with the owner as we were leaving to thank him. He told us about their recurring wine pairing dinners which we will definitely be checking out. If you are craving an exceptional meal that is well prepared and served with true Southern style, we definitely recommend you visit Lucilla.