I always forget LUCCA Cafe is just down the road from me, but the launch of its happy hour menu is now embedded on my brain, especially when I’m craving some delicious small bites along with a glass or two of the great wines they have on offer.
The menu is extensive and the small plates mean you get to try as many of them as your hearts desire without filling up too much. I’ve tried every item off this menu but am bringing you the ones which clearly were winners — about 85% of the menu, mind you!
Start with Mediterranean Olive Mix ($3) while you peruse the menu.
Once you have some wine in front of you, Wild Salmon Crudo ($8) with avocado, horseradish creme fraiche served with house made potato chips is delicious. I loved this dish a lot, especially the chips!
I’m a huge fan of burrata so Burrata Cheese ($8) drizzled with basil pesto, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and served with oven roasted tomatoes and bruschette on the side definitely appealed to me.
One of the surprising items of the night was Bresaola Hand Rolls ($7.50). Beautifully salty bresaola is filled with poached pears, baby arugula and parmesan, blsamic reduction and lemon creme fraiche, rolled up like a sushi hand roll. The savoriness of the meat with the sweetness of the pears creates a wonderful mouthful which goes perfectly with any of the wines you may choose.
The dish which surprised me the most was Braised Crispy Pork Belly ($7). I’ve been SO over pork belly, but the one here blew me away. The lean portion of the pork was so tender while the fatty part was soft but not blubbery, melding together perfectly in texture. The accompanying corn kernel-mascarpone polenta was just outstanding! More please!
Pan Fried Sherry Clams ($6) was another winner. Sauteed with pancetta, garlic, scallions and parsley, the clams were plump and flavorful and I wanted some soft bread to soak up every drop of the delicious broth they were sitting in.
If you’re a fan of butternut squash like I am, you will absolutely LOVE Roasted Butternut Squash Bites ($3). Perfect squares of sweet butternut squash are served with a gorgeous bacon-nutmeg aioli dipping sauce. Honestly, this sauce can be eaten with absolutely anything and it would be great!
Cumin and cinnamon scented New Zealand Free Range Baby Lamb Chops ($4.50 each) are large meaty chops served medium rare with a mint/parsley yoghurt. I could’ve eaten about six of these on my own. They were THAT good!
Happy Hour Bar Snack menu is available between 4pm and 6pm every single day of the week! Make sure you stop by and check it out.
LUCCA Cafe has generously donated a $25 gift certificate to one of my lucky readers. Leave me a comment and tell me which one of these items you’re most excited to try. You have until Sunday, Feb 19. Winner announced Monday Feb 20th.
6507 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603