Atmosphere: Cozy Cabin in Close Quarters
Things to Try: Any Burger on their menu (Chez Lucien Burger is phenomenal)
When roaming around the Byward Market, authentic is sometimes hard to come by. With such a high traffic area, sometimes a lot of restaurants can seem very cookie-cutter, giving their customers what they think they want or overcomplicating straightforward dishes. However, at places like Chez Lucien they are keeping it plain and simple when it comes to their food. By having an easy to navigate menu and great recommendations from the staff, they are serving up some superbly delicious meals. Now if you haven’t heard of this place by word of mouth or read about it on Urbanspoon you might not have known about it. Tucked away in the Byward on Murray Street lies the ever so small entrance to this pub. With French style lettering and a large neon BAR sign hanging above the door, it is still quite easy to miss. However, once you find it and go inside, the space opens up to a large, high ceiling restaurant that warms your heart.
On the wall they have a large moose head and Canadian lodge decor that gives off a very comforting and inviting feel. Being my first time at this pub, I was seated in the upper level of the restaurant in a cozy little nook that overlooked the bar. The table and chairs were a bit tight on room, but it was manageable and added to the ambiance of the space. Our waitress was very nice and gave great suggestions when it came to what we were thinking about ordering. However, the service was a bit slow overall, so if you’re in a hurry, this might not be the spot for you. I personally did not mind the wait until it came to getting our bills; we had to walk up to the bar and ask for them. Other than that, the food was fantastic and was really well put together.
The Cheese Plate
As per usual, if I see cheese I eat it. I enjoy trying the cheese plates offered at restaurants because not only do I love the dairy deliciousness that caresses my tastebuds, but I am inspired by local products by local places. However, for this cheese plate I was disappointed in the selection we had received for there was little to no back story on any of the cheeses which tells me that they are probably just store bought. Boo. On the plate we had received a semi-hard Guinness cheddar cheese, a creamy portion of goat cheese, and a slice of soft brie. The cheese also came with fresh fruit such as pears, apples, strawberries, and grapes as well as pickled onions to pair the cheese with. On the whole, the appetizer was uninspiring and not as complex as some cheese boards I have had previously. Nevertheless, although it was lacklustre for my taste, it was a good sized portion for sharing and they gave us more fresh baguettes when we had run out.
The Chez Lucien Burger
Now, the appetizer may have been a little bit of a let down, but the burger was a different story. First off, the bun was neither dry nor too big for the burger itself which was a good start. Next, the meat-to-bun ratio was spot on; if you do not know what this means, it simply refers to the amount of burger between the buns. There was no excess bun that acted as ‘filler’ and each bite was a balanced portion of meat, cheese, and goodness. On the burger itself it had sautéed mushrooms with strips of savoury bacon and was topped with smooth cream cheese. As I continued to mow down, each component fused with one another to create a harmonized and cohesive burger. The burger was cooked too perfection, nice and juicy with a slight char that gestured my tastebuds to a hot summer day—barbecues blazing and patties sizzling. From the first bite to the last, the sautéed mushrooms, bacon, and cheese married to what was a fantastically executed meal. With a pile of fries on the side and a garden salad, I was quite pleased with the portion I had received and ended up taking half my meal to go.
If you’re looking for a great place to drink an ice cold beer and grab a great burger, this is the place for you! The service is slow but if you’re not in a rush the atmosphere is very cozy, cheerful, and an interesting nook to give a try in the market!