8910 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-2326
Selected dates through December, 2009.
Pre-empt: don't let the quick sell out of all Ludobites reservations keep you from trying to visit this December. Krissy says a couple cancellations for each evening are slowly trickling in. Click the Ludobites link at the top and make a reservation through Ludovic's website. Call now, get in there.
Tuesday December 1st members of the Los Angeles food blogging community, co-hosted by Ludo Lefebvre, his gracious, charming wife Krissy and the visionary men of FoodDigger, attended a pre-opening night view of what's to come during the December pop-up engagment of Ludobites at Royal/T in Culver City. Also in attendance were: Kevin, H.C., Danny, Fiona, Caroline, Lindsay, Josh, Javier, Sonya, Elina, Rachel and Cathy.
Artwork from Jane Glassman's In Bed Together
Having covered Ludobites here, and here and here, regular readers of this blog know Ludobites to be a temporary restaurant throwing down taste sensations during periodic engagements around the city. At the end of summer 2009, @thejgold was so thrilled with Ludobites that he deemed it one of the 99 Most Essential Los Angeles Restaurants, stating, "You can’t find it in Directory Assistance, and you can’t have dinner there tomorrow night...But when Ludo Bites is there, it’s there, and your dinner is as real as the DJ set you may have heard last week from the guy they flew in from Brussels. Lefebvre was the protégé of three of the four greatest modernist chefs in France, and wonders flow from his borrowed stoves."
Tuesday's FoodDigger dinner was characterized by all the panache the FoodDigger gents are known for exhibiting. And while some of the elements of this month's Ludobites reminisced elements of the Ludobites prior, there were some things new and very, very exciting. In a nod at the Japanoiserie that is the cosplay inspiration behind Royal/T, Ludo spins his characteristically modern French/Continental food on its head with Japanese, Korean and Mexican touches using classic French techniques that tease the palate and thrill the imagination.
Everyone adores @frenchchefwife Krissy Lefebvre, for her wit and charm but also her generous nature. Two thirds of the times I visited Ludobites last summer, I rode the citybus arriving embarrassingly late for much sought after reservations. Neither time was it a problem. Krissy handled our tardiness with good humor, rapidly seating us, and we experienced first class service every visit.
In response to bloggers' complaints about ambient light, or lack thereof, in the last venue, Krissy purchased a light box for the restaurant so interested parties could shoot beautiful stills of their gorgeous food. She plans to keep it up during the entire engagement. I'm sorry, but how f'ing cool is she?
Just for us food-obsessed guests, Ludo played L'Invention de la Cuisine avec Michel Bras, famous French chef from Laguoile (from whence my favorite corkscrew hails).
Michel Bras coupe des haricots verts.
Les coupes des champagne.
Krissy and Ludo share a toast with present company celebrating the opening and we all drink to their prosperity.
I sat across from and next to two of my favorites, Javie from Teenage Glutster and Kevin of Kevin_Eats. Above is Javier's tiny vintage-looking Sony camera.
Scallops, Brown Butter, Pineapple, Black Powder
This was one of two dishes Ludo shared with the crowds on opening night of the art exhibit. Silky browned butter, brightly sweet pineapple, cilantro oil with squid ink powder mixed together with a raw scallop. Hearing the description, one would think the pineapple would overpower the delicate brown butter and scallop. Not so. This dish is perfection. After eating this on opening night, I started craving raw scallop to the extent I sought it out two nights later at Kiyosaku, Palm Springs's best and most expensive sushi bar. My craving for this dish wasn't really satisfied until I ate it again with Ludo this week.
Bread Soup with Gruyere Marshmallow
Surprisingly, Ludo makes nothing of the wonder of a slow cooked egg on the menu. In my mouth, the slow cooked egg was the highlight of this dish. The 90 minute 143˚ poached egg is a celebration of chicken-goodness, and I loved it with this soup. This soup is the essence of the crust of a good brown bread, the gruyere marshmallow light in texture and flavor, the egg a perfect sphere of protein completing the dish. I have plans to make this egg at home. They include a double boiler and a candy thermometer. Please stay tuned.
Krissy holds up a loaf of pain campaigne (Lindsay an editor at Laist helps me brush up on my French, which lack of use seems to work in inverse proportion to physical exercise), a brown country bread from Breadbar, location of the last Ludobites.
Bordeaux, for le foie gras.
Foie Gras Beignet, Celery Roots Remoulade
All made much to do of this sexy liver dish. Is it sweet, how much foie is that? Did you see how much foie in in there? OMG, I don't know how he can put so much foie in here. Is this curry in the celery roots? What is the source of the light oil coming from inside the beignet? What is on the outside of the beignet? Molasses or is it honey? I heard Will across from me say, "Holy shit, that's good." I quote.
Richly delicious, with indeed an obscene amount of foie gras (2 oz), a touch of curry in the celery root salad, and some slightly sweet glaze on the outside of the beignet. Honestly, I could not finish mine. Apparently I was sitting in the desert, because a couple of vultures nearby were waiting happily for anything I cast off. No names mentioned, natch.
Caroline snaps pics of her foie gras beignet in Krissy's box. If you want to see beautiful snaps from the light box, check out Cathy's blog Gastronomy.com. Personally, I love ambient light and hate fighting crowds. No Black Friday for me.
Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, & Red Onion with Eggplant Skin
This was the perfect course to follow the luxurious intensity of the foie gras. Savory (chorizo oil), spicy (kimchi), sour (kimchi) and sweet flavors (pickled onions) combine with light textures in a punchy way.
Moneterey squid is slow cooked, and what looks like mustard is actually pureed kimchi. IMO, this dish is some kind of genius.
Le menu progresses.
Veal, Udon, Kombu Dashi, Mushrooms, Sesame Seed Miso
My favorite dish of the night, hands down. Enoki & button mushrooms with green onions, shredded veal and udon in a dark kelp broth (kombu dashi) with sesame studded miso paste swooshed on the side of the plate.
Add just a little miso to the broth, to your taste. I don't even know how to wax poetic about this beautiful dish, I loved it.
Wild Striped Bass, Garden Vegetables, Aioli
At this point, the wine has been flowing freely for hours, talk is growing silly and merry making is being had. Out parades a beautiful bass in a sea water broth with tiny baby vegetables, radish, broccoli (purple and green) and Brussels sprouts with a gorgeous flavorful aoili ribboned throughout the dish. This is so gorgeous I wish it had been served earlier. I wish everything had been served first...
Hanger Steak, Crunchy Escargot, Baby Corn, Bok Choy, Black Olive Mole
Coolest dish of the evening. Sunday after the opening of In Bed Together, Javier and Momma Glutster took Ludo into their home in East LA, schooling the Frenchman in mole making. You may think Ludo is some kind of crazed wackadoo after the whole pig's ear quesadilla incident, but this guy has soul. Once, he and Krissy invited on twitter whoever could make it to their house for dinner. A local girl I follow stopped in without ever having met them in person and had a fabulous time. This willingness to interact with and support the LA food community who in turn support them impresses me to no end. As does this grass roots way of learning the fine art of mole. No, Ludo did not call in Rick Bayless, one of the world's finest Latin-American chefs, nor visit LA's own chefpert John Rivera Sedlar. Instead he traveled to the eastern regions of our fair city and learned from a solely Spanish speaking Zacatecana. Props, maing.
And the resulting dish is delicious. Excellent quality hanger steak, (is this really hanger steak?), baby corns in the cob, crispy little escargot to dip in the mole. My one complaint would be not enough mole on the plate. But there's never enough mole. There's never ever enough mole.
Now, if it seems like there are a couple dishes missing, that's because I turn into a pumpkin at 10:30 on nights prior to rising at 5. Luckily someone from the FoodDigger community always leaves a little early (I follow on his heels), and I can almost always take a pass on dessert. Despite missing two courses, this evening was an epic joy. Thank you FoodDigger, and thank you Ludo and Krissy. I am counting the days til my next visit, coming right up.
And please, wait to be seated.