Lucas Park Grille was one of the cornerstones of the revitalization of downtown’s Washington Avenue when it opened back in 2004. Despite its prominence on the local dining scene, we’d never made it in. Recently, we decided to rectify this oversight and headed down for a bite.

The restaurant was spacious—some 8,000 square feet, according to the website— with both casual and more formal dining areas, plenty of bar space and a lounge with soft seating and the requisite big-screen TV. The ultra-high ceilings added to the expansive feel of the place. There also was a covered outdoor patio area—perfect for people-watching!

While there were plenty of tempting Large Plates listed on the menu (we’ve already decided to return to try the Macadamia-Encrusted Hawaiian Sea Bass), we decided to sample through the numerous Small Plates offerings instead.

The Pretzel-Crusted Calamari ($9) were not, as the name might indicate, seafood bits stuffed in a soft pretzel. Instead, they were flavorful rings of calamari lightly breaded and fried and served with a side of mustard-dill aioli for dipping. It was delicious, and the portion was more than generous, too!

We had no idea what ‘poke’ was, so of course, we had to try the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke ($10) when we spied it on the menu. A quick Google search after we ordered revealed that the dish is actually a Hawaiian specialty featuring cubed sashimi. The Lucas Park version featured a pyramid of uber-fresh Ahi tuna chunks nicely seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, plated alongside some crispy wontons.

The Angel Acres Mini Burgers ($11) were some of the best sliders we’ve had recently: grass-fed Missouri beef cooked up rare and topped with American cheese and tangy pickled red onions. The sweet potato fries they came with, though, were limp and soggy and could’ve used a little less time in the fryer—or maybe just some heartier batter.

Though the Roasted Beet Salad ($8) didn’t contain too many of its namesake veggies, it was plenty tasty nonetheless, with field greens, pistachios, goat cheese, oranges and a mustard oil-citrus vinaigrette.

While we noshed, we sipped on a glass of Hunky Dory Sauvignon Blanc ($6), a crisp New Zealand vino, and one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, The Warehouse 7 ($8). The cocktail was a tasty concoction of Bombay Sapphire gin, house red wine and peach puree, topped with club soda. While we liked the drink, we took exception to the way it—and most of the other cocktails on the drink menu— was incorrectly labeled under Martinis.

We topped off dinner with an order of the Cinnamon Beignets ($6), three delectable, piping hot pastries served with caramel and white chocolate dipping sauces on the side.

Lucas Park is open seven days a week, and features lunch and weekend brunch service in addition to dinner, making it a solid all-around dining choice any time of the day or night.

Lucas Park Grille, 1234 Washington Ave., 241-7770, lucasparkgrille.com

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