Let's agree from the start that no new incarnation of Lucile's will ever compare with the first at 2124 14th Street in Boulder. The original has a kind of magic, a musty, irregular charm that can only be earned, never bought. That said, the Denver Lucile's has only improved since its early days. No longer is the staff overwhelmed at the slightest hint of a rush. No longer are the waits for food (or tables) best measured in hours. And with this struggle toward competency has also come a certain sense of relaxation. There was a time when eating at this Lucile's was partly about the stress: the fight to get in, get served, eat and get out so that your table could be turned and the next party seated. Everything on the floor was done in a rush, and that feeling was transferred to the customers. Now, though, that feeling of desperate, almost calamitous speed is gone. Some of that has come from a slackening of business, but it has more to do with a maturation of the staff and the restaurant as a whole.
As for the menu? Nothing will ever match the original Lucile's for pure weight of love and calories. But this Lucile's makes a good run at it with its wonderfully homey, Creole comfort-food board. The biscuits are still huge, the beignets still hot and sugary and perfect alongside a café au lait and a copy of the New York Times. And the eggs Sardou (eggs Benny topped with shrimp and served over creamed spinach so rich it could be used as collateral for a loan) remain such a rarefied treat that I feel I must order them every time I walk in.