Sunday, May 9, 2010

Even Twice at LudoBites Is Not Enough

LudoBites 3.0 blew my mind back in December. To say I was devastated not to have been near a computer when reservations opened for LudoBites 4.0 is no understatement. I know how these things go. Fast. I was way bummed not to have gotten a table.

Thankfully, both Law and Disorder and Rants and Craves invited me to join them. Yes, folks, this lucky monkey got to go to LudoBites 4.0 twice! My friends rock!
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Gram and Papas is a lot smaller than the last Ludo locale, Royal/T Cafe. However, this tiny place has an open kitchen, so you can gawk at your favorite French chef and his tattooed arms as he works his wizardry, not unlike when he was on display at the In Bed Together exhibit.

LudoBites 4.0 is BYOB. The wine glasses are cute.
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insomniac and Ann Marie provided our wine this night.

Tartine plate -- warm baguette, honey-lavender butter, smoked lard ($4).
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Smoked lard, people. Smoked lard! Truth be told, it sounds more outrageous than it actually was. Delicious with the warm crusty baguette, but really it's just salty fat on bread. The honey-lavender butter felt like perfume in a spreadable form. Can't say I was a fan. I don't even like perfume in regular form.

Brie Chantilly Napoleon, honeycomb, frisée salad, balsamic ($7).
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Now we're talking. So creamy and rich. More cheese should be beaten furiously to this consistency.

Burgundy escargots, garlic flan, green jus, violet flowers ($13).
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If no one told you these were snails, you wouldn't be the wiser. You'd be too busy mmm-ing up a storm and scraping up all the garlic flan you could.

Scallop, almond puree, pickled grapes, capers, curry oil, cauliflower ice cream ($14).
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Look at that gorgeous sear! Tasted as good as it looks. The pickled grapes and cauliflower ice cream served as rather unique accompaniments -- tangy and smooth, respectively.

Snapper ceviche, heirloom tomato, jalapeños, red onions, Meyer lemon paste, olive oil ($14).
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I wish I could eat this every hot summer night. Fresh and clean yet complex.

Boudin noir mousse, apples, wasabi ($12).
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Beware! When you allow me to order for the table, you get crazy things like blood pudding! I'm not sure I even told my cohorts what this was until after they'd all had some. It was interesting and tasty enough -- we finished the whole thing. But I don't think I'd repeat this dish.

Seared foie gras piña colada ($29).
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I sigh just looking at this beauty. This was the definition of luscious. I would get this over and over and over if I could. I imagine this is what fatty heaven tastes like.

Black foie gras croque monsieur, lemon-turnip chutney ($29).
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A crowd favorite! And rightfully so. The squid ink-soaked toasted bread housed ham and foie and happiness that dribbled down my chin. I was thrilled to get this a second time.

Squid carbonara, pancetta, poached egg (63 degrees), Parmesan snow, chive flowers ($18).
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This was another dish I gladly ate again during my second visit. The moniker was befitting. The squid was extremely tender and absolutely pasta-like. Mixed in with the soft-but-not-too-runny egg and pancetta? Exquisite.

Steak au poivre, shallots, polenta bone marrow, roasted eggplant puree ($25).
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Ludo couldn't make a bad steak if he tried. The highlight for me, however, was the polenta bone marrow -- buttery and corny and awesome.

Macarons, organic strawberries, chantilly ($12).
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A pleasant sweet offering but not out-of-this-world. The strawberries were damn good, though.

Dark chocolate souffle, vanilla-whisky ice cream, hot chocolate cream ($13).
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Oh mah gah. Sexual chocolate. A chocolate cloud. A warm chocolate hug. Chocolate nirvana. Do you get the picture? Not only did I inhale this during both of my meals, but we got two of them during my second visit, so we could have plenty! Starchy Marie tweeted later that night, "Had my first souffle at LudoBites. Time stopped for a second; it was that good. My soul weeps for all the bad desserts in the world." Yes. YES. Totally worth my chocolate-allergy-induced hives.

Only eight days later, I was back. Chef Lefebvre changes the menu often.
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There were already new things to try!

Paris ham soup, bread, Swiss cheese, radish, cornichon, Guinness ($12).
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Droooooool. Imagine an incredible toasty ham and cheese sandwich masquerading as a soup. I wanted to bury my face in the bowl like a cat drinking milk. Mee-yowza!

White asparagus veloute, mozzarella mousse, candied olive, fennel, salmon roe ($15).
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I wanted to love this. It was cool and refreshing, but it just didn't do it for me.

Bavette, escargots red butter, shallot jam, roasted eggplant, carrot slaw ($25).
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Carnivores, rejoice! I love Ludo's meat! Hmm. That didn't come out right. Let me distract you by talking about the crazy roasted eggplant. I don't know why I didn't feel this way the first time I had it with the steak au poivre, but this mysterious black paste tasted just I'm not talking about spiciness. I'm talking about a burning house and glowing embers and lots of charring. It was seriously weird. And I couldn't stop eating it. Vintage Ludo. Always challenging your taste buds.

Soft shell crab cornet, mango, red spicy mayo, Corona granita ($19).
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The pièce de résistance of Night #2! I love soft shell crab so much and was giddy to see it on the menu. Super delicious with its lightly fried outside and tender meaty inside and swirled around with sweet fruit and a little creamy kick and all stuffed into a sugary crunchy cone. Yeah, so yummy that it inspires really long run-on sentence fragments.

Thank you, Ann Marie, insomniac, Amber, MissAshleySG, and weatherjen for a fabulous first night. Thank you, Rants and Craves, Starchy Marie, and DTLATruckChaser for a sensational second night.

Most of all, thank you, @chefludo and @FrenchChefWife, for doing what you do. You are such a terrific team!


  1. Great photos, as always. I enjoyed my night with you 3 so much. Yummy fun, for sure!!

  2. I'm sad Ludo didn't progress further in Top Chef Masters (again). I assume he doesn't do well under the limitations and constraints of the competition. It's obvious from your descriptions that he needs absolute freedom to showcase his talents. So jealous of these fabulous meals.

  3. Both nights look incredible!

  4. I found a recipe that is similar to the little brie things. I will feel very chef like if I can manage to pull it off.

  5. I seriously could eat that damn foie gras sandwich for lunch every. single. day. Ugh. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

    Always a fun time with you ladies!!

  6. Everything looks wonderful! MMMMMM-mazing!

  7. This menu looks way better than 3.0. Too bad I'm too poor for Ludo Bites. :(

  8. Ludo is amazing. I hope he never leaves Los Angeles.

  9. i desperately want to try that smoked lard.

  10. I would eat that foie gras croque monsieur everyday if I could.

    That crab cone looks insane! *drooling*

    Thank you for joining me!

  11. For some reason.. I get a bad feeling when I think of Ludo. Maybe because he seems like an arrogant French Chef. But seeing how much you loved the food that title is well deserved. ;)

  12. My coworker has been raving about that soft shell crab all morning (she went on Friday night). So jealous - it sounds amazing!!

  13. wow, oh wow. you're a lucky gal eating ludobites x 2.

    btw, the word verification of the day is "boobluct." haha..whut?

  14. yay for fabulous company and great food. drooling. that black croque monsieur looks amazing.

  15. I'm going for my 2nd time on Friday!!!!!!

  16. I am still thinking about the taste of fire on that eggplant. LOL

    Great meal and even greater company!!! SO much fun!

  17. mmm that soft shell crab looks so good! jealous! you're so lucky you went twice!

  18. Can't wait till I go back this week!

  19. I think I'm going to dream about that dark chocolate souffle tonight.

  20. You got me pumped for my Ludo Bites primiere this Friday!!! Can't wait for the chocolate souffle and bread and butter :)

  21. Mmmm I hope the ham soup and strawberry macaron dessert are still there when I go back...for a third time.

  22. So lucky to have gone with you gals! Where will I get my next souffle fix? :P

  23. yum!!! drooling across the ocean, wishing i could have some foie gras!!

  24. you have awesome friends. very jealousE!!


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