1 May, 2013

Bar Lusconi

Posted in : Bars and Tasting Rooms, Tasting Rooms in Durham - NC, Wine on by : The Gourmez

Bar Lusconi
117B East Main Street
Downtown Durham
Weds – Sat, 5 pm – 2 am

Hey folks, I posted this review of Bar Lusconi over at Carpe Durham last week, and I didn’t get the chance to report here until now! So here you go:

Bar Lusconi is a downtown beer and wine bar that soft-opened this week, so don’t expect perfection or a wide food selection just yet. However, I was very happy with everything we tried last night and can report no kinks in the service. There’s a great article in the Herald-Sun that covers the details of the bar opening. It’s owned by Timothy Neill and Jesse Gerstle, who opened Peccadillo last year, which is a somewhat secretive cocktail bar in downtown Carrboro. Bar Lusconi is at a readily accessible streetfront location, but right now, the main sign there’s anything going on behind the butcher-paper-covered windows is the sound of an animated crowd when you walk by. Eventually, those windows will be covered with curtains, but it’s one thing at a time for this bar. So far, that’s been renovating the space, keeping the beer and wine list stocked and the bartenders well versed in its particulars, and working on a selection of small plates from Chef Eric Akbari that will hopefully be expanded soon, once logistics of their tiny kitchen space are worked out and more dishes make their way through the bartender-approved quality assurance method.

The space is narrow, loud, and lively, and it feels bright although the lighting was mostly a warm glow from candlelight and a few overhead ceiling fans. It was packed until late last night with a crowd of mostly 30-to-40 somethings.

Owner Timothy and Dean James, one of the super friendly and knowledgeable bartenders you must make friends with, gushed about the distressed walls and white tin ceiling. We particularly liked the wood bar that lines one wall and was made from reclaimed wood found on the property. Tim is especially excited to open the small beer garden space in the back once the weather cooperates and allows him to finish renovations for it.

The beer and wine list has been chosen with care, though it is on the pricey side.

Local is not the emphasis here, but have no fear, the staff will not steer you wrong in selecting the import that’s right for you and whatever you may be munching. Beer prices vary widely depending on the size of the bottle, and the wine is available by the glass at $10 or by the bottle as well. I was entertained by the beaker used to decant our Buil & Giné 2008 Baboix Spanish red blend.

The beaker is a nod to Peccadillo’s lab-coated bartenders in Carrboro. The Manoir de Montreuil Pays d-Auge was an absolutely delicious French cider, but we did not try any beer this evening.

We did try a charcuterie and cheese plate compliments of the bar.

It was quality fare, especially the soft cheese that Dean recommended with the cider. We were also surprised with a pot du crème and some delicious dark chocolate toffee.

The pot de crème had the perfect amount of salt sprinkled on top to bring out its richness, and that toffee is to die for.

Bar Lusconi has great potential for stellar beer and wine choices without pretension. It buzzes like a NYC neighborhood bar and the passionate staff will impress you with their friendliness and skill. I’d say it’s best for starting or finishing a lively night downtown with a small group of friends who don’t mind getting cozy enough to hear each other over the din and want someone knowledgeable to guide them toward some great food and drink discoveries.


Reviewed 24 April 2013.

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