Lulou’s Restaurant1470 S Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89502
High ceilings and smooth lines create a classy, contemporary interior inside Lulou’s. Modern lighting contrasts with rustic European-style architecture, producing a clever, inventive style. When I approached the hostess stand, I saw Colleen, the co-owner, carefully orchestrating the front of the house service. It’s comforting to see owners involved with each step of the dining experience. As my friend Paige and I were escorted to our table, the smell of amazing food coming from the kitchen electrified my senses. Food-loving friends of mine have told me about Lulou’s visionary chef Troy Cannan and his cool food. I’d been wanting a good reason to afford this “expense account” restaurant; a review seemed as good as any. My patiently awaited Lulou’s experience was here.
The menu is creative modern American cuisine. It’s divided into three courses, and it’s tough to narrow down the decision because it all looks so pleasing. Our server came back after a few minutes, and I ordered three courses for us.
The first course arrived quickly. My rich, molten crab skillet cake ($15) was presented in a piping-hot iron skillet, gratin style. This was exactly what the menu said—crab, crème fraiche, caramelized sunchokes and truffle oil, all topped with bread crumbs. Paige’s fava bean “toast” ($12) was a crisply toasted parmesan cheese and polenta cake topped with delicate fava beans and spring onions that tasted like they were sautéed with butter. Three healthy slices of prosciutto di parma made a pleasantly salty compliment to the sweet spring vegetables.
Now for the second course. Paige’s cauliflower chowder ($11) looked like no bowl of soup I’d ever seen. It was presented in a shallow, wide dish with a cluster of sautéed clams and fried leeks in the middle and one slice of crisp bacon on top. The actual chowder was a light, creamy puree with petite pieces of cauliflower. My butterleaf salad ($9) came with large leaves of lettuce tossed in a creamy Nicoise olive dressing, fresh herbs, diced red beets, thin strips of radish and a little grilled bread with green olive tapenade on it. This was a refreshing salad, nice and light, yet full of flavor.
The main course appeared immediately after our plates were swept away by the friendly bussers. The tasty scallops ($32) that Paige ordered were meticulously arranged around a feathery scoop of truffle-flavored potatoes studded with wedges of buttered baby artichokes, which were rich, velvety and perfectly cooked. The scallops were petite and caramelized. Much thought had gone into the design of this dish. It was perfect. The same goes for my grilled duck breast ($32). It was cooked to a perfect medium and fanned out over an assortment of spring vegetables including morel mushrooms and sweet pea tendrils. On the same plate was a quenelle of pickled pear ginger compote and a miniature iron cassoulet dish packed with a hash of duck leg confit and minced potatoes. Looking at this food, I realized that this chef is truly in his element. Paige and I savored every bite of our entrees, but we had to leave room for dessert.
We were approaching the end of our night at Lulou’s, and I realized how much food I had eaten. But it was so good, I could keep going. We ordered the lemon crème fraiche tart with blackberries and the milk chocolate banana cream pie with a caramelized banana. The desserts (all $8) were amazing, as was our entire evening at Lulou’s.
Restaurants like Lulou’s raise the level of quality dining in Reno.