Finding new spots to wine and dine in the Twin Cities is like finding a delicious, unexpected caramel center in a perfect piece of decadent chocolate. You’re already digging into something good and familiar and like magic, it gets even better.

That pretty much sums up my feelings about Lucia’s in Uptown. Just when I thought I had experienced all the great spots in this trendy ‘hood, I discovered the incredible depths of flavor tucked inside this cozy gem of a wine bar and restaurant.

Though it’s been around for more than 25 years, Lucia’s is a bit of a secret spot, hidden slightly off the beaten path of Uptown’s main drag. With blue canopies and an inviting bistro setting, Lucia’s prides itself on its high-quality, often-local ingredients and excellent culinary skills.

After just one meal — the great pressure of a birthday meal, no less — I completely fell in love with both the wining and dining of Lucia’s and their fresh, ever-changing concept for a restaurant menu.

Here, favorites are hard to narrow down and having “the usual” isn’t always possible. The menu at Lucia’s changes weekly, keeping the tastes fresh and the ensuring what’s in season is always prominently featured.

So truly, frequent visits to Lucia’s is like entering a new restaurant each time, as there’s always a new dish to try — a new flavor profile to explore.

On one particular brisk night in November, the menu selection was particularly intriguing. Sure, you could probably make that argument for just about any night but this night was special. Our waiter informed us that one of Minnesota’s greatest scallop chefs was celebrating her last night — and preparing these succulent, juicy scallops with her most delicate touch.

We basically had no choice but to indulge in the seared goodness. But more on that in a bit.

Before diving into what would later be known as “speechlessly good” scallops, we couldn’t help ourselves from trying a cup of warm comfort, in the form of a seafood stew — a combination of savory broth with a slight kick, served to perfection with bits of tender seafood and juicy vegetables.

Dip some of the freshly made, French bread to soak up the last of the broth and you’re well on your way to some tasty travels.

But the shining star of the evening definitely had to be the aforementioned seared scallops cooked to utter perfection. To steal a phrase from Saturday Night Live’s Coffee Talk, they were totally, “like buttah.” Each bite melted in your mouth, and to the complete annoyance of my boyfriend, I couldn’t help but make a slightly orgasmic noise every time I finished another helping.

They truly made me realize I’ve been eating crappy scallops this whole time, because nothing could compare to what was on this plate.

Though we were far too full from a wonderful meal, we couldn’t resist when a heavenly piece of chocolate goodness walked by on a silver platter.

I can’t even remember what it was called but it was layers of chocolate, piled with more chocolate and topped off with a chocolate frosting. Pretty much, whatever it was that was in there should probably be deemed illegal.

The entire experience was a total night of pure gluttony, but it was so worth it. It was a perfect birthday dinner, followed quickly by a perfect birthday dinner food coma. And for that, I say thanks Lucia’s — somehow you knew just what I was wishing for.

Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.


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