Hidden in a strip mall, underneath the prior occupant’s pizza sign is some of the most cutting edge, flavor packed, creative dishes happening in Los Angeles at this moment. The creative trio behind it are some of the most well-known chefs in the city. Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. I’m not going to get into their history’s, but these guys know a thing or two about cooking great food. And both my times here I left very, very pleased.
It is a tiny place inside, intimate, open and busy. You must sign on to their website and buy tickets ahead of time for the tasting menu. That’s it. Show up and eat. Eat WELL. The menu changes often, to the whims of what is in season, and mostly what Ludo is inspired by. It is usually five courses. 75.00$. Wine extra. Your ticket pays for the food, tax and gratuity. Done and done. But of course, one must pair wine with such exquisite food. That will run you an extra 49$. It then doesn’t feel as big of a hit on the wallet when your food is already paid for. There is a full wine list, which runs into the very, very expensive French realm. So you can go real big if you so desire. Last night we opted for the pairing. There are some really smart, nice, small production biodynamic French wines here. There was a Rose from Tavel. A Riesling from Alsace. A very nice Languedoc. All paired very nicely with the food.
There was also two supplements to the food menu. And of course we ordered them. You truly only live once. There was a Mushroom broth, coconut water, pine, hazelnut and egg yolk dish for 12$. Also a Truffle grilled cheese, buttermilk maple and campfire ice cream which was an additional 9$. It was a 50/50 outcome. The grilled cheese with the buttermilk maple sauce and ice cream was out of this world. It was added after the fourth course and before the dessert. It was on another plain of existence. Excellent. The amount of flavors on this plate was second to none. I actually HAVE met a grilled cheese I have not liked, and this was the opposite end of the food universe. Delicate, yet hard. Easy to eat, yet a want to savor. I. Loved. It. Now, the mushroom broth, not so much. Across the table not a hardy like from any. The flavors were almost there. Almost. The off-putting part was the dried mushrooms that stayed hard and crunchy in the broth. It reminded some of say, something that ate in college that took one on a journey. Which made them unable to consume, let alone enjoy. The egg yolk was also totally lost in the broth and strong woodland flavors, and I am a massive mushroom AND egg yolk fan. Did. Not. Like.
Alas, even with the miss on the broth, a truly unforgettable meal. It was stunning in its simplicity, yet complex in the depth and amount of flavors. They start you off nice, with a few little snacks that get your palate warmed up, and makes you stomach yearn for more. This is not for the flavorless consumer. You come here for big and bold, and distinct. No where else do you get these dishes. No. Where.
Here’s a general run-down of our courses: Avocado with sushi rice, salt cod cream, lime and cilantro. Terrific. A bunch of seeming unattached flavors that melded together to sing to my palate. It was TERRIFIC! I love me some salt cod, and this cream added a touch of denseness, in a good way, to the flavors. Next was the hit of the day, the beef tartare dish. As with the grilled cheese, I love this dish, but can be done poor. Here however, it is aced to perfection. Rare Beef, grilled yogurt, fermented black walnut, and caramelized eggplant. The mix of flavors almost tricked me to think the beef was not raw. It sung. The eggplant was the best, most creative use of that ingredient I have ever had. And I ate a lot on my last trip to Italy and Sicily. This dish made me expel a rather muted FUCK. It was that good. I hope for your sake you get there while this is on the menu. Then another epic dish, a play on mac and cheese, yet another favorite of mine. Potato pulp, brown butter, bonito, onion soubise, and salers. Another unique dish that played on known flavors and used them in a different way. It was also very delicate, but packed with flavor. Salers is a French cheese from a volcanic region in Central France. I loved it all. There was a soft texture to the potatoes, but the onion and bonito added a bit of texture. Again, Terrific.
We finished with a Wood grilled lamb belly, green beans, parsley, clam and garlic oil. On the surface, straightforward. But yet again, it have layer after layer of well-rounded flavors. This was followed by that grilled cheese, which was followed by dessert. An Apple and miso sorbet with caramel granita and sorrel. Yet another success. Not overly sweet, or sugary, or pedestrian. A perfect finish to an amazing meal. One friend thought this was the best meal she had ever had. And it definitely is up there.
The service is professional, yet youthful and fun. The chefs bring dishes over to your table when complete, and explain them. Your water glass is always full. Your napkin is folded when you use the loo. It’s all in a very upbeat atmosphere. There are only about 25 seats in the place, and it feels like you can reach right into the kitchen. Which you can if you sit at the counter. This is one of the places you need to do at least once. It is not just dinner, it is an experience. Live a little and throw your inhibitions to the wind and eat well.
Go, create an account. Buy a ticket. Take the ride and relax. Leave the cooking to them. (and the wine)