Sunday, July 09, 2006


Last night, Mike, Joy, Lisette and I dined at Lure, a modern 34-seat restaurant that opened in San Mateo 7 months ago. We had read good reviews in San Francisco Magazine and then in the Chronicle, and we were familiar with the chef (May Lawrence) from her days at L’Amie Donia. She is chef-owner now, and we were excited to sample her coastal cuisine.

Lure is serving a summer menu, and as 4 motivated diners we tried a good portion of it. We started with corn and shrimp fritters for the table. The white corn had been perfectly roasted and the fritters were perfectly fried. They were not as heavy as you might expect and were a great way to begin the meal.

From there we enjoyed the raw menu with a “tasting of each.” The standouts were the delicate red snapper served with onion, salt and watermelon (delightfully refreshing) and the big eye tuna with mango and avocado (a divine combination). The quality of their raw fish is outstanding, and on a return visit I would not hesitate to sample their oysters.

There was one “miss” among our appetizers, though: the chilled white peach soup. It was a warm summer night and the novel soup sounded wonderful. Sadly, its strong and syrupy flavor was not the delicate taste we were hoping for.

The entrées more than made up for the disappointing soup. Lisette opted for the Alaskan Halibut, and its presentation with zucchini ribbons and an olive-raisin tapenade was lovely. Joy and I both ordered the roast quail, and we each received two quail, de-boned except for legs and wings and stuffed with cornbread stuffing. The quail was succulent and enhanced by portions of honey roasted nectarines that were too sweet by themselves but balanced the fowl and stuffing. However, it was Mike’s dish that stole the show.

Gary Michael ordered the Wild King Salmon. From the “taste of each,” I knew that Lure had some fine salmon on hand that night, but I was stunned at how perfectly cooked the entrée actually was. The fish flaked but still retained a translucence and color more like a fine smoked salmon than one that was poached. And, the flavor… amazing! Joy identified the technique as slow roasting, which basically amounts to poaching it at an extremely low heat (~200F or under) in an oven, submerged in liquid (like oil).

We seriously considered ordering more salmon for dessert, but instead we tried the actual dessert menu (good, not great). We added flights of Peller Estates ice wine that provided a nice conclusion to the meal. Included were the Resiling icewine (tastes like strawberry jam), the Vidal icewine (a more complex liquid jam) and the Cab-Franc icewine (grape jelly in a glass).

If you have read this far, you know that I really enjoyed Lure. I have one reservation, and that is the price point. Entrées range from $25 to $36 (the salmon was $28) and, except for the quail, the portions are not large. Although the wine list has nice bargains in the $30's, dinner for two at Lure is as expensive as some of San Francisco’s best restaurants. That's tough competition.

Lure: 204 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA (650) 340-9040
Dinners Tuesday-Saturday, lunch Friday only