Lusca to open in late March, Angus Brown shares details

The duo behind Octopus Bar is finally serving dinner before 10:30 p.m.
Nhan Le and Angus Brown at Lusca

Photograph by Sarah Dodge

Two years ago Angus Brown and Nhan Le started serving gourmet fare and creative cocktails to an after-hours crowd in East Atlanta within So Ba. Octopus Bar, as the pop-up was called, soon became a popular hangout for the chef community. Now, the two have taken over the Bluefin space on Peachtree Road in Brookwood and are preparing to open a more traditional restaurant—for those who want to dine before 10:30 p.m.—in late March. Brown reveals the details on Lusca below.

The concept
It’s a lot of my style: simplicity, seasonality, and market-driven food. I’ll be cooking to my strengths. The food shows restraint: grilled fish with lemon juice and olive oil, housemade burrata, prosciutto, a lot of dry aging…

The menu
I’m going to do a lot of fish and chicken. I’ve also been messing around with lamb neck a lot recently. I’m going to braise it, roast it in a pan with white anchovy, parsley, and garlic. I’ll baste it in that, and then top it with fresh herbs and orange segments to cut the fattiness. Most of the items are plated dishes. Every once in a while we might have a porterhouse for two or something like that.

The staff
My friend John Sellitto trained in Italy and ran a butcher shop in Boston, and he’s coming here to do the charcuterie. Our general manager, Tim Willard, is going for his Level III sommelier test. He worked at FIG in Charleston. We recently hired a pastry chef, Brooke Lenderman. She worked for Cynthia Wong at Empire State South. She’ll be baking all the bread in house.

The raw bar
Nhan is running it. Instead of doing twenty kinds of oysters, we found our favorite five oysters and will offer those. The same goes for sashimi. There will be live scallop. We’ll always have sea urchin when we can get it. We’ll have crudo and maybe a couple of nigiri.

The drinks
We’re keeping the cocktails very classic—we’re not trying to go crazy. The wine program will be pretty serious with fifty bottles of wine, hand-picked. (Willard adds that there will also be twenty bottles aged ten years or more, and four reds and four whites available by the glass.) We’ll have choices for sparkling rose, champagne—a bunch of bubbles. We’ll have sake, plus four drafts, and a couple of bottles. I’m really into the sour beers right now; we’ll have that on tap. I’m into farmhouse ciders, too.

The lunch menu
Lunch will be pretty different. We’ll have a lobster roll all of the time because I worked in Maine for five years. We’ll have a burger that will only be available at lunch—whole chuck, dry-aged in house, and then ground daily. I’m a very vegetable-forward chef, so we’ll be working with local farms and offer a lot of salad, plus sautéed greens for both lunch and dinner. The raw bar will always be open, too.

The Sunday brunch offerings
I worked at a hotel for five years. I’m all about brunch. We’ll have oysters, granola, and yogurt made in house, my play on huevos rancheros, awesome French toast, the burger, some fish, and maybe a small bistro steak. We want to keep it to like eight items.

The décor
It will be open and light with tile and a marble raw bar. A local artist, George Long, is making the tables. They’ll be wood and metal. Since Lusca is a colossal octopus, we’re going back to the early discovery of octopus with textbook paintings and lithographs—big, old school, black and white murals behind each bar.