Gorilla Chef{Guerrilla Not Gorilla}

I constantly find “reasons” aka excuses to enjoy good food out on the town.  It’s sunny out. . . time to celebrate with a gourmet meal!!  It’s Tuesday. . . time for haute cuisine!! So, what is the logical thing to do when your friend adopts a kitten?  Celebrate at Ludo Bites of course!

We tend to get many of our dining ideas from the various food programs we watch on T.V.  So, it’s no surprise that this outing was inspired by the episode “Offal Tasty” of the program Top Chef: Masters.  One of the chefs on the program, Ludo Lefebvre, happened to have an LA hot spot that we just couldn’t pass up! Our reservation was set for 8:00 PM on Friday, July 10, 2009 and we were raring to go!

Hot Chef Lefebvre’s (no not sweaty…very very attractive) restaurant has quite an interesting concept.  It is called a “pop-up restaurant event”.  What!?! Yes, it is true, that is the best way to describe it.  Basically, Chef Lefebvre, his lovely wife and the rest of his team “take over” the dinner hours of a restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch.   This conquest only lasts for a few months, before they move on to greener pastures and switch locations.  Apparently, this business model helps to keep the prices down (but not if your are us, and practically order the whole dag menu).  This particular conquest’s restaurant of choice was L.A.’s BREADBAR.  

So, we pull up to the restaurant nearly jumping out of the moving vehicle with excitement, only to discover that there is no available parking on 3rd street.  Hungry people – parking spot= immediate solution of valet parking (truth be told, you are pretty Ludo Bitesmuch going to have to valet on this street any time of day).  The BREADBAR space is quite small, and the outside seating is slim pickins.  The inside of the restaurant has about 5 long butcher block tables with upholstered stools made cozy by many candles and dim lighting.  We chose a table on the far left wall that was, at the time, away from the other diners. 

Our server, let’s call him “Joe” (because of his every guy nature and cool casual demeanor), explained how the dining process works. At Ludo’s everyone orders a dish, they come when they are ready,  and the service/ordering process continues through the entire meal until you are full!

{Slather Me in Butter and Let’s Call it a Night}

First up in our dining extravaganza was the bread.  Now, Craft still holds the title for having the most fabulous bread.  However, Ludo can butter my bread any time.  And that is not just a thinly veiled sexual innuendo, the butter that came with the bread baskets was out of this world.  Honey-lavender butter is pure ambrosia, and a must have when you eat here!

So, after stuffing our faces with two baskets of bread and very healthy portions of butter, we moved on to the main courses. I began with the Chorizo Cantaloupe Cornichon ($11).  My Fiance, the Poached Egg 65 Degrees and French Morels with a Smoked Mornay Sauce and Toast($11).  And our darling friend had the Sauteed Diver Scallop with Red Port Creme Fraiche and Candied Bacon ($14).
Chorizo, Cantaloupe, and Cornichon
Let’s start with my heavenly dish.  I know chorizo.  I know cantaloupe.  But what in heavens name is a cornichon?  Wikipedia tells us that it is a Gherkin.  Huh? “The Gherkin (French cornichon) is a fruit similar in form and nutritional value to a cucumber. They are usually picked when 4 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in) in length and pickled in jars or cans with vinegar (often flavored with herbs, particularly dill; hence, ‘dill pickle’) or brine to resemble a pickled cucumber.”  What was so unique about my dish was that it was re-imagined.  The chorizo was no longer in it’s plump little casing.  It was liquified into creamy goodness with cubed, chilled, cantaloupe chunks.  The cornichon was equally interesting, as it was pickle flavored granulated ice.  Mix it all together and you have a cool sumptuous  bowl of soupy love.  Little flowers perched on top ‘exotic-a-fied’ it a bit more. My accompanying dude diners quite enjoyed their first courses  as well (however I believe my dish certainly was the star of that particular course and should not be missed if it appears on the menu on the particular night you choose to dine at Ludo’s).  

PolentaAt this point we weren’t even starting to bust at the seams so, we continued on with Creamy Polenta, Cantal Cheese and Oxtail Beef with Black Truffle ($14) for the darling friend.  The Foie Gras Terrine Black Croque Monsieur with Lemon Paste and Maple syrup ($20) for the fiance.  And Cod with Spiced Butter,Fresh Porcini Mushrooms, and Fresh Almonds Tonnato Style ($22) for lil’ ol’ me. The star of this “course” or “non-course” as things don’t particularly fit into that framework here was definitely the Creamy polenta.  I can best describe this dish as something you would want to eat on the coldest Christmas Eve night cuddled in front of a roaring fire (and I’m Jewish).  It was that good. . . and it was that comforting.  The Croque Monsieur and the Cod were also fabulous with only one note; my mushrooms were slightly over seasoned.  I almost feel cruel mentioning it, as it was the one and only negative note from any of us for the entire meal!

By dish number three I was beginning to hit the proverbial wall so, I only had two more dishes. . . Technically, though, one of the two was a group dish. . . the quite pricey but quite tasty cheese board and house made condiments ($35).  This layout featured several interesting cheeses and condiments the likes of candied grapefruit, honeycomb, spiced nuts, and date butter.  My fiance very much enjoyed the Grilled Hanger Steak “Kobe Style” with  black sesame Miso Potato Chips ($24) and my darling friend flipped over the Lacquered Pork Belly with Mustard Ice cream, Napa Cabbage, and Imaginary Choucroute “sauerkraut” ($18).  This last dish was far and away the most exotic, delicious, and entertaining spread of the evening.  How could a dish that contains the word “imaginary” be anything other than entertaining.  Essentially, it was a gelatinized  version of sauerkraut essence. . .  and with it, the combination of the pork and the mustard ice cream (tastes exactly like mustard) created a flavor explosion (or a reconstructed hot dog with all the fixins’). 

Panna CottaHinging on exploding, myself, we continued on to dessert.  My fiance had the Chocolate Mousse Ganache Chantilly ($10).  This dish featured two quenelles of chocolate mousse (one sweet and one with a little spicy kick!) swimming in a chocolate ganache. I am still in a bit of shock that I actually remembered the technical term quenelle.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to a food item made into an oval or egg shape, such as ice cream, sorbet, or mashed potato. The word quenelle is derived from the German Knödel (noodle or dumpling).  If you like chocolate, this is definitely the dish for you!  My darling friend partook in the Cherry Clafoutis Amaretto verbena granite ($12).  This dish was outstanding, and absolutely worth the 15+ extra minutes we had to wait to taste its deliciousness.

Last, but not least, was my dish: the  Panna Cotta with Caramel and Caviar ($15).  Now, normally when we think of dessert, we don’t typically think of. . . well. . . fish eggs.  I usually or never do either.  So, when I read the menu and saw caramel and caviar, I immediately thought it would involve some aspect of molecular gastronomy like combining Calcium chloride and sodium alginate, because at this point we had already had imaginary sauerkraut! However, when the dish arrived in front of me, I was intrigued to see the real deal. . . from the fish!  Now, you may be thinking that this combo is quite atrocious, and you really need to have a lot of faith in a chef to give it a whirl.  I had faith folks and it was delish!  

In fact, the dinner as a whole was so tasty, that I bought a Ludo Bites T-shirt that now serves as a new pajama shirt!

So, when it is all said and done I give Ludo Bites 8 out of 10 possible points, and I would highly recommend this restaurant for everyone to try for themselves (while keeping an open mind for a little food adventure).  I would absolutely love to eat here again and sample some of the new dishes Chef Lefebvre frequently features on the menu.  Because even though the concept of Ludo Bites may be Guerrilla it’s hard to stop yourself from eating like a Gorilla while you’re there!

Ludo Lefebvre

{Till next time: Eat Well, Stay Safe, Be Happy!}


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