Lux Steakhouse + Bar 94
10150-101 St. (Commerce Place, main floor)
780-424-0400
centuryhospitality.com
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight
Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight
Closed Sunday
Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $60; loaded, $120
Food:  4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

When the Lachance family first opened LUX Steakhouse — then known as Chance — in Commerce Place, it was big news indeed.

Millennials won’t remember, but the downtown was as dead as a door nail 17 years ago. Many thought opening a new high-end restaurant downtown was an invitation to failure.

In fact, the timing was good. Within a few years, the downtown revival took shape. Other business district steakhouses followed – Chop, Ruth’s Chris, Pampa – but the re-named Lux was first-to-market, and it also had Bar 94, a terrific, fancy, long-counter bar named after the number of Lux shareholder and beloved ex-Oiler Ryan Smyth.

Bar 94 still fills up on weekdays with the downtown after-work crowd. Lux is one of the rocks on which the Century Hospitality Group, currently five restaurants strong, was founded.

Still, long-established restaurants don’t get much attention. There’s always the latest trendy opening that food bloggers rush to review, always dozens upon dozens of other eateries competing for attention. In fact, once the opening buzz dies down, restaurants usually fade from the spotlight.

Century Hospitality executive chef Tony Le smartly invited food writers to Lux last week, with the express purpose of showing how a turn-of-the-century steak house keeps current.

Who would have thought a prairie steakhouse would present an entire fish – a corn-meal battered, deep-fried Pacific snapper, head, fins and all– as the centrepiece of a group-dining platter?

The fish meat (sweet, hot and cornmeal crunchy) was easily detached from the bones. Each diner had the fun of assembling the fish and accompanying ingredients – salsa, lime, avocado, crispy chick peas – into gigantic salad-style fish tacos.

From the starter section of the new menu came not only a generous steak tartare, but a tartare mixed with marrow, served on top of the split bone from which the marrow had been scooped. The presentation was pleasing, the tartare extra soft and delicate thanks to the dissolved marrow and its fat.

Meat ‘n’ potato traditional fare has not disappeared. Seven steak cuts (including a 94-ouncer) are on offer, as is surf + turf and Lux’s semi-famous $30 “Black Label” burger deluxe.

A range of refreshing, interesting options go a step further than the Joey/Earls competition. Some of the choices have been around (brick chicken, Cobb salad), but some I’ve not seen elsewhere in Edmonton, like lobster croquettes or a ribeye with a side of lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

The portion control offerings are enlightened. Between small, main and shared choices, one diner can have a 600 calorie $15 dinner, the other a 4,000 calorie $60 dinner. Between starters and a group platter, four can be well-filled at a reasonable $30 to $35 each.

Lux shows that it’s more than possible for an old gal – the traditional meat ‘n’ martini steakhouse – to continually upgrade her wardrobe and toss in a face lift or two along the way.

Enough interesting dishes are on the Lux Summer of ’17 menu to return to the restaurant multiple times without repeating.

Too bad there’s no patio.

***

FOOD AROUND TOWN

* Franchises and chains love our city.

Nando’s – the piri-piri chicken people – have wasted no time, with two new locations (northeast and downtown Brewery District) joining the original on Gateway.

Another Keg has opened, this time in Sherwood Park’s Emerald Hills.

Wok Box, still Edmonton-headquartered, has opened its 60th location in Windermere.

Edo, started in Calgary in 1979, opened its 35th Edmonton outlet in the northwest, across the Henday from St. Albert.

* Vivo Downtown splendidly hosted last week’s 129th gathering of the Art of Conversation in its tavern space. Chef Medi Tabtoub’s snacks were top-notch, the service from general manager Ryan Borromeo and his staff unfailingly cheerful and efficient. Capital FM’s Rob Christie and I host the Art of Conversation CXXX at the OTTO sausage house on Tuesday, June 27.

* Nate Box is not enthusiastic about re-opening his subterranean LRT experiment, the Burrow Café in the Central LRT station pedway. There’s simply not enough foot traffic – yet — through the downtown LRT system to sustain a down-under, slightly up-scale coffee/snack outlet.

* Soon to re-open is Old Strathcona landmark Packrat Louie – finishing up an extensive make-over.

* The latest member of the fried/smoked/BBQ’d chicken craze is the Barrel Chicken food truck, found Thursday evenings at the 124 Street Grand Market.

* From none, suddenly we have two Hawaiian style poke shops (essentially a sushi alternative) in the downtown. Splash Poke and Ono Poke opened within days and five blocks of each other.

* You pay $45 (not bad) to golf (early, weekdays) at the city-owned Victoria Golf Club. But after you get dinged at the course’s Dogwood Café – 18 bucks for two cans of Alexander Keith’s ale and a (shared) small fries!