When LudoBites popped up at Breadbar earlier this year, I didn't get a chance to visit. I was pretty sad about that. So, when I heard that LudoBites would be at the Royal/T Cafe for about two weeks in December, I made reservations immediately.
insomniac, Ann Marie, and Amber were the best Top Chef Masters-loving companions that I could ever have. Better yet, they specifically love Chef Ludo Lefebvre. We were all very excited about this meal.
Tuna sashimi, sushi rice ice cream, soy sauce gelee, smoked ginger oil ($16).
Fish and ice cream! Together at last! I'm not kidding. Admittedly, our first few bites were filed under "things that make you go hmm." But it didn't take us long to get to "I think I kinda like this." And, soon after, the plate was clean. A chef who can get you to like a fish and ice cream dish is really something, no?
Foie gras beignet, saffron-dried apricots ($17).
All four of us love foie gras, so there was no way that this wasn't going to be a hit. It was essentially a foie gras donut! Ann Marie was particularly thrilled, as she'd been looking forward to this ever since she'd read about it. The contrast of textures was very pleasing, and the apricots provided a lovely mellow tang.
Braised veal, udon, caramelized onions, kombu dashi, enoki mushrooms ($16).
If you don't know what umami tastes like, you should taste this -- it is the perfect embodiment of the flavor. The veal was very tasty and the noodles delightfully springy, but what really won me over was the broth. I wanted to pick up my bowl and slurp it all.
Crispy confit pork belly, burnt eggplant puree, plantain, coconut Thai chili emulsion ($16).
I don't think I've ever met a pork belly I didn't like, and Chef Lefebvre's offering didn't disappoint. It had a nice crisp edge, and I enjoyed it with a generous helping of puree.
Fried chicken, mole, cantal polenta, baby corn, baby bok choy ($18).
Oh. Mah. Gah. Sooooo good. So crunchy. So tender. So flavorful. Note that Chef Lefebvre is truly dedicated to creating authentic flavors -- he got a mole-making lesson from Teenage Glutster's mom.
When insomniac cut into the baby bok choy and the baby corn popped out, Amber and I literally squealed with joy. I think you had to be there to appreciate just how spazzy we were. Yes, we were that delighted by the emergence of secret baby corn.
Special thanks to @FrenchChefWife for sneaking the fried chicken out to us, as it wasn't on the menu this night! We loved it!
Brittany cod teriyaki, mashed potatoes, pickled garlic, lemon-miso ($24).
Perfectly cooked cod. Absolutely adored the lemon-miso -- it really gave an oomph to the sweet fish.
Grilled beef tenderloin, crispy lard, carrots "vichy," mustard ($28).
Exquisitely prepared meat. Melt-in-your-mouth tender lusciousness. Really enjoyed the mustard, too. All the sauces were generally very good.
Guacamole, exotic fruits, ginger ice cream ($12).
Ok, so here's where things got weird again. We came around on the fish and ice cream, so we decided to be bold and try guacamole for dessert. Again, we started with funny faces as we took our first bites. But it got better. We actually ate the whole thing. While I can't say that this is something I'd necessarily order again, I do applaud the dessert's creativity. insomniac said she liked it!
Fourme d'Ambert tourte, red pear, honey-balsamic ($12).
This was another challenging dish. I liked it a lot, but I didn't think it tasted very much like dessert. Amber said it would make a great cheese course, and I agree. I would've thought it was more dessert-like had it been drizzled with a truly sweet sauce.
Correction: This was a cheese course! It just came out of the kitchen after dessert instead of before dessert. Oopsies. It all makes so much more sense now!
I can't write this post without paying homage to the awesome light box that LudoBites provides for weirdo food bloggers like yours truly.
This contraption made my photos a million times better. Genius.
While we were there, we spied Dr. Drew from Loveline.
My stalkerazzi skills clearly (or, rather, unclearly) need improvement.
Good thing @chefludo and @FrenchChefWife were kind enough to pose still.
Amber made sure the I got a pic with Ludo, too.
Fabulous night. Thank you, @chefludo and @FrenchChefWife, for a wonderful evening. Thank you, insomniac, Ann Marie, and Amber, for letting me run to the light box with each dish before we dug in. You guys are the best.