Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen - Intermediate Fine Dining RestaurantsFood ★★★★☆ Ambiance ★★★★☆Service ★★★★☆Creativity ★★★★★Value ★★★★☆meal for 2 $35-45 plus drinksGood wine and beer menus
Lucky 32 Souther Kitchen is part of the Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels which own the Fantastic Print Works Bistro, Green Valley Grill and the hotels Proximity and O. Henry. With such a fine pedigree you should have high expectations for Lucky 32. At first, it seems to be a stretch to have upscale Southern Food, but as in any cuisine it is always possible to take a cuisine and bring it up a notch and as in the case of Lucky 32, they REALLY bring it up quite a few notches.
I would expect most people to find the menu at Lucky 32 very inviting with many twists on classic southern dishes. If you are expecting southern food served as you would expect in many of the cheap little diners found around the state and at the same price, I would suggest finding somewhere else to dine. If you expectation is creative interpretations of classic southern dishes served in an upscale atmosphere, then you have found the right place to dine. The menu changes on a regular basis which gives you a reason to come back and try something new. Many of the seasonal dishes are very creative.
The outside of Lucky 32 is not impressive. Somewhat bland, but when you enter you see a purposely built and decorated restaurant. The interior is modern art deco with an open kitchen that you can see from most of the tables. The restaurant is clean and excellently maintained. Expect Lucky 32 to be busy and I recommend getting reservations. When we arrived (6:30PM on a Sunday) there was a 30-40 minute wait for a table in the main dining room. However, there was plenty of room at the bar.
Service was a bit slow, but overall very good. We prefer slow service to the rushed, serve me and a rush to get me out service of many local restaurants.
Sunday Is Fried Chicken Night at Lucky 32
Today we went specifically to try Lucky 32's Sunday special of Fried Chicken. I know this might not sound like something you would get in a fine restaurant, but this is a bit different. Lucky 32 has old fashion Skillet Fried Chicken every Sunday that is pan fried in locally rendered lard.
Lard is not a fat that is commonly used anymore due to the bad press of animal fats in the 1980's. This wonderful fat is full of flavor and is the BEST fat to use in pie doughs and at one point was the fat of choice for many fried items.
However, there is a difference between old fashion lard and modern lard. Modern fats and oils used in cooking typically undergo several refining steps that remove color and many of the flavor components. In the food industry, this is called deodorizing the oil. Native raw oils contain many flavor compounds that many people may find too strong or objectionable. These are removed by injecting steam into hot oil to remove volatile flavor compounds. Many commercial fats will go through this process twice to make the flavor of the oil as neutral as possible. We have been accustomized to these neutral tasting fats. When we taste a native fat such as the lard used by Lucky 32, it has MUCH more flavor that can really make a dish. Other processes modern food oils go through are degumming, bleaching (actually filtration) and winterizing. All of these processes purify and remove impurities that can create good and some very nasty flavors.
Now back to Lucky 32's Chicken. Since this is fried in a pretty much-unprocessed lard, it will impart a very strong pork flavor to the chicken. This is the flavor I imagine our great grandparents experienced as a child and something that has been processed out of food and removed from food due to bad press over the years. For me this , s a chance to try and experience what fried chicken used to taste like. The flavor of Lucky 32's fried chicken good. It had a very strong pronounced pork flavor. Since we are accustomed to chicken fried in deodorized, soy, peanut, sunflower and palm oils this pork flavor seems over powering. But this is what true old fashion fried chicken tasted like. The chicken had a crispy crust, a bit oily but what I would expect from fried chicken being cooked in a pan vs new modern pressure fryers. What you are used to eating at most fried chicken joints is NOTHING like what fried chicken used to be.
The Chicken was served with mashed potatos with a VERY flavorful giblet gravy, (We choose the green beans over the collard greens) and cornbread.
I also had a cup of Lucky 32's Butternut Squash Soup. Normally I would not order this, but I am glad I did. It was excellent. Creamy due to the crema or Creme Fraiche which is a fermented cream that is wonderful in so many dishes but is so infrequently used in this country. Soup had a well balanced spice blend of of maybe cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
We also had the Lucky 32's Boudreaux' Boudin Balls. These were deep fried balls of rice sausage and pork with a side of carmelized onions and remoulade sauce. I thought this was going to be my favorite upon ordering. It was not. I felt the flavor of the balls was weak. Very little pork or sausage notes and the remoulade sauce tasted more like mustard with a bit a mayo. Overall, the dish as a whole was lacking bold flavors that I would have expected.
Overall, Lucky 32 is a great restaurant serving bold interpretations of classic southern dishes in a very upscale atmosphere. Expect to pay more for these artisan prepared dishes than you would find in the neighborhood diner and also expect the food to be much better! If you have never been tryit. I think you will like it.