Lucian books and wine in Buckhead

Lucian’s Crispy Fries exemplify the form, and it’s hard to resist whether they’re dipped in winter’s horseradish mayonnaise or dabbed in spring’s tarragon mayonnaise. I recommend them with a glass of bubbles and a plate of oysters, which recently came with a filet of mignonette with shiny strawberries and crunchy celery.

While you can lounge at the bar with a simple bowl of olives or an otherworldly dish of chicken pot pie with hibiscus jelly and toast, you can also indulge in crispy polenta a la black truffle and parmesan shavings – a knockout – or a little gem lettuce salad with artichoke, salami and breadcrumbs.

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Lucian’s chicken liver pate with hibiscus jelly and toast is a great starter and goes great with wine. Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Henry Hollis

Credit: Henry Hollis

Lucian’s chicken liver pate with hibiscus jelly and toast is a great starter and goes great with wine. Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Henry Hollis

Credit: Henry Hollis

Smelt is an alumnus of Billy Allin’s excellent Cakes & Ale. In some ways, this Decatur restaurant set the tone for Lucian. Barringer is the former owner of Cover Books, whose spirit lives here in the Literature Cabinets. The partners recruited Brian Hendrickson to open the restaurant about a year ago. Then, just as my review was ready to go in December, Omicron shook up the industry. We organized the review and Hendrickson left soon after. Two recent visits proved that Lucian is in very good hands with Paolini.

Pasta is a highlight. We loved the ricotta gnudi with morels and English peas – a small plate, but filling.

Among the starters, the monkfish wrapped in a thin speck skin – with favas, fennel and carrot – was a stunner. On a Saturday lunch, a classic pepper steak with fries was exemplary. There’s even a $29 omelette. Light and ethereal, it’s topped with caviar and accompanied by a quenelle of creme fraiche – very classy, ​​but maybe a little rich for my blood.

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Lucian’s salad of lettuce, salami, breadcrumbs and artichokes is a not too heavy lunch on its own. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Lucian's salad of lettuce, salami, breadcrumbs and artichokes is a not too heavy lunch on its own.  Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Lucian’s salad of lettuce, salami, breadcrumbs and artichokes is a not too heavy lunch on its own. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

When I dine at an establishment with wines as deep and terrific as Lucian’s, I like to let the staff handle the pairings. I always learn something this way. At Lucian, this works particularly well at the bar, where Smelt is often installed or, at least, waiting for advice. He guided me to Etienne Calsac rosé champagne with the oysters and a Corsican sciaccarello with the steak – wow and wow.

Hardened chocolate lovers will appreciate the intensely dark budino drizzled with hazelnuts, perhaps with a coffee service or an after-dinner drink. The panna cotta – infused with rose water and drizzled with pistachios – was delicious, but these cold desserts raised a rare issue: where’s the pastry?

In a city with an abundance of noteworthy casual eateries, Lucian offers a heady respite from the norm. Whatever the season, it’s that rare place where you can bask in the pleasures of exceptional cuisine and wine, then take home books to feed your brain long after.

This raw hamachi at Lucian shimmers with grapefruit, celery, radish and a pinch of Berber spice. Wendell Brock for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

This raw hamachi at Lucian shimmers with grapefruit, celery, radish and a pinch of Berber spice.  Wendell Brock for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

This raw hamachi at Lucian shimmers with grapefruit, celery, radish and a pinch of Berber spice. Wendell Brock for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

LUCIANS BOOKS AND WINE

Food: oenological bistro cuisine

Service: from intelligent and knowledgeable, to circumspect

Best Dishes: fries, oysters, chicken liver pâté, gem lettuce, polenta, ricotta gnudi, monkfish, pepper steak

Vegetarian Selections: polenta, gnudi, burrata, fries, cheese platter, desserts

Alcohol: mostly wine, with a few cocktails and beers

Price scale: $$$$

Credit card: all major cards accepted

Hours: having dinner, 5pm-10pm Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, 11.30am-2pm Thursday to Saturday

Children: yes

Car park: in the bridge; the restaurant will validate your ticket

MARTA Station: Buckhead

Reservations: highly recommended

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: moderate

Go out: limit

Address, phone: 3005 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-549-2655

Website: lucianbooksandwine.com

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