12200 West Olympic (at Bundy)
Los Angeles, CA
Despite not having won the reservation lottery (love this concept) that secured patrons a table in the current Ludobites iteration, I got under Ludo's wife's skin enough times on Twitter for her to offer us a table when one came available. I am extremely grateful. Going to each issue of Ludobites is like decorating your food experiences with a unique jewel. For those who don's know, Ludobites is a small plates pop-up concept. Every time I have been, Ludo has toyed with flavors, ethnic perspectives, classic technique, and composition to create new dishes to wow diners. No two times are ever alike; I still hear bloggers reminisce over the infamous Foie Crocque Monsieur.
I admit, Ludobites has changed since I started going in 2009. Mostly the crowd has changed: the size and who is there. Back in the Breadbar days, I couldn't drop in without running into bloggers I know such as Kevineats, Gastronomnom (where the eff is his blog anyway), the Gastronomer, and so on. This issue finds @chefludo in a larger space, seemingly better set up to run a restaurant (although I understand the kitchen is tiny) inhabiting Lemon Moon in the first floor of the Westside Media Center where the permanent restaurant clears out bright and early for Ludo's prep team. Every table on the considerably larger floor is filled except a two top and two spots at the communal dining table before we arrive. and before we leave there are 10 people waiting for us to do so. Ludo's show Ludobites America has not hurt his popularity, nor have his well edited and extremely entertaining visits to Top Chef Masters. Everyone wants a bite of Ludo.
My three favorite bites of the night.
Chicken Tandoori Crackling. This was far and away D's favorite., it appealed to his Jewish culinary background. He will always eat pâté because it reminds him of Mom's chopped liver. This is elevated chopped liver however, sea salted and scooped gently onto fried chicken skin. Four orders of this, people. Ludo swung by our table before we left wondering why we weren't ordering dessert.
FOUR ORDERS, that's WHY!
Uni Creme Brulee. I hesitated to order this...it sounds exotic and fun but almost gratuitously over the top. Like a foie gras crocque monsieur with cherry jam on squid ink bread, you ask? Yes, kind of like that.
The. Perfect. Bite. Uni creme, bruleed sugar, and salmon roe. This wowed. I would have licked the ramekin had we not been seated so visibly by the front door. Savory, sweet, salty and that uni taste of the sea in the best way possible.
Pics courtesy of iPhone and Finger Focus app...and at the table they looked way better than they look on my monitor this morning. Eh-bien, tant pis.
Veal. I was excited to try this because it was debuting for the first time on the menu. The flavor profiles are huge with the rich meat covered in a dried black olive tapenade. Olives imparted a slightly bitter flavor not dissimilar from a little char on the meat, but the meat was cooked perfectly medium/medium rare without a trace of char. It reminded me ever so slightly of steak au poivre in a really good French (not steak) restaurant...
There were more bites. We tried lots of things on the fun and reasonably priced menu. But these were my top three. Thank you Ludo, for your creativity. And thank you Krissy, for being the best hostess.