Monday, June 8, 2009
Ludobites, I Eat
Having heard about the famous Ludo Lefebvre on LA Food Hunt last year, I've been curious about this culinary prodigy. After stints at L’Esperance in Paris, Bastide in LA, and LAVO in Vegas, Ludo knows fine dining. This doesn't discourage him from flexing his casual muscle with limited engagements at Breadbar on Third.
Yes, that Breadbar is serving food by an elite chef. According to Ludo, he wanted an environment in which he could interact directly with customers; he certainly did so on my visit there with Christine. Chef Ludo was in the front of the house all night, talking to each party, taking pictures, describing many of the dishes that he personally brought tableside. I didn't know what to expect, hearing about his outspoken personality. However, he was congenial the whole night. In fact, he seemed to be having a great time making sure everyone was enjoying himself.
For $5 corkage, I think the restaurant was encouraging people to bring their own wine. We started off with a gift from the kitchen of Ludo's "Popcorn Experiment." Although it was called an experiment, I didn't think it was very adventurous. Seasalt and Parmesean--yawn. Plus the oil drizzled over the kernels stole the crunch from the popcorn. Being the Breadbar, I also expected more out of the rustic bread with honey butter.
The real fun started with the cheesy rosemary polenta, oxtail and yellow carrots. Each ingredient built on the other to create a complex flavor and texture combination. You get the sandy polenta with the tender beef and crunch carrots. However, each element didn't stand out by itself when separated from the dish. The foie gras miso soup was my favorite of the night. Much like the foie gras shabu shabu at Urasawa, the liver permeates the soup while leaving droplets of oil along the top of the liquid.
Foie gras miso soup
The tuna, watermelon, beets, and balsalmic vinegar had the perfect balance of acidic flavors, the sweetness of the fruit, and the brininess of the fish.
Also, the fried chicken was fried in duck fat. Anything in duck fat is good.
Fried chicken in duck fat
Among the mediocre dishes for the night, sauteed diver scallop with curry-yogurt sauce failed to impress. Scallops are good enough on their own; it takes an outstanding sauce to compliment them. I just didn't think the curry flavors melded well. The beef tartar with Vietnamese peanut sauce came in a rice paper roll. I honestly don't remember anything about this dish. While typically I have poached egg on black olive bread as a breakfast item, it tasted just fine for dinner too.
Most disappointing, I thought the brocamole wasabi and corn chips suffered from the lack of avocado. I'll applaud the attempt to replace broccoli with the alligator pear, but the dip suffers when there's nothing to replace the creaminess of a ripe fruit. If anything, the brocamole tasted healthy...a little too healthy for me.
Of the two desserts that night, the chocolate mousse and grilled bell pepper didn't seem to coalesce with quite the ease of the strawberry soup, rhubarb, hibiscus and marshmallow ice cream. I couldn't get past the odd flavor of bell pepper in my chocolate. But the strawberry soup had the refreshing feel of a fruity gazpacho that I greatly enjoyed.
This was the first night of the a la carte menu. I much rather preferred this over a prix fixe 3-course meal that was the standard before. Splitting twelve dishes between four people, we still got our 3-course fix and got much more variety. Better yet, it was about the same price. Come with friends, meet the chef, share a few plates, and don't take yourself too seriously--Ludo doesn't.
Ludobites at Breadbar
8718 W 3rd St
Beverly Grove, 90048
Check out GourmetPig's review
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Last time I went I didn't bring wine and the waitress stared at me incredulously. Not everyone drinks at each dinner :P
And yes, anything in duck fat is good. Seems like I've hit all of your fave dishes, so I can just wait until the menu changes before going back!
I am going to be thinking about visiting this restaurant all week when I am working in a black hole, a void of anything worth eating, for the next 5 days! I will come to your post and just stare at it. I may lick the screen.
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