If there's a Brother Luck Fan Club, count me in. I'm a groupie, I admit it.
Like others, I've followed him around town from one restaurant to another as he's broadened his culinary repertoire, progressively expanding the menu, dining areas and kitchen with each successive move.
Four By Brother Luck is his latest venture, and as hard as it is to imagine, the food keeps getting better and increasingly creative. Now it's served in a space at 321 N. Tejon St. that accommodates more people than his previous venues. Therein lies the single downside of our meal. The noise level was like being hit with a 4-by-4. But that's not what the reference to four is about in the restaurant's name.
The number alludes to many things. It identifies those critical to the food scene: hunters, fishermen, farmers and gatherers. Four cuisines are represented: American western, Mexican, Spanish and Native American. You might note the overlap. Each features a four-course menu with seven options, or you can mix and match. The tasting menus range in price from $46 to $55. We went with the one from column A, two from column B, etc., approach.
We sampled appetizers from all four categories. Pork belly ($13), a thick, salty decadent chunk of pork (bacon) is served with green chili over cheese grits. On the lighter but equally rich side were the artichoke bisque ($8) and wild rice soup ($9). The bisque featured blue cheese crumbles and a dice-size crouton topped with pesto in the bottom of the bowl, while the rice soup had a mound of black wild rice. The broths from both soups were poured tableside into their respective bowls. If it was a race to excellence between the two, the result would be a tie. The melted cheese added a tanginess to the creamy bisque, while the wild rice provided earthiness to the soup.
The ancho Caesar salad ($9) wasn't as stunning as the soups but did include several appealing elements. Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and tortillas strips were a nice touch, but next time I'll be more tempted by the jalapeño popovers.
We also enjoyed an order of Tamaya blue cornbread ($9). The side of berry sauce (more like a jam) provided a pleasing contrast to the green chili in the bread.
We selected the hanger steak and pork chop as our entrees. The red-peppery Romesco served on the side helped alleviate the slightly dry texture of the chop. The hanger steak was exceptional. It was surprisingly tender given the cut of meat. Roasted fingerling potatoes and dollops of avocado cream made for an artistic plating. This was not just a pretty dish, though. It had substance and nuance. Everything on the plate contributed to a balance of textures and flavors.
We could have, perhaps even should have, stopped after the entrees, but the desserts were too tempting. The hot chocolate churros ($9) were enticing, as was the strawberry pie on a shortbread crust ($9). Ultimately, it was the maple bread pudding ($9) we opted to share. Meringue topped a layer of roasted apricots on the bourbon- and maple-infused baked bread. Roasted pepitos added texture. Flan ($9) was a fourth dessert option.
One more thing about that number four. According to the restaurant's website, Brother Luck is the fourth generation in his family to bear the name. Four is definitely Luck's number.