The wait is almost over, Los Angeles foodies! Chef Ludo Lefebvre's LudoBites 4.0 opens tonight at Gram & Papa's in downtown LA.
Thanks to the folks over at FoodDigger, however, Chef Ludo prepared a special preview dinner last night for a group of us lucky, lucky bloggers. Having missed LudoBites 1.0-3.0, my only Ludo-experience was his fried chicken at the LA Street Food Fest. Translation: Noms, Not Bombs was stoked for this dinner.
Although Chef Ludo and his wife/partner-in-kitchen-crime Krissy wanted the night's menu to be a surprise and did not give us this until the end of the meal, here is our menu for your viewing pleasure.
Jill Bernheimer of DomaineLA provided superb wine pairings for each course of our meal. My personal favorites were the 2009 Donkey & Goat Rose of Grenache Gris and the 2008 Julien Fremont Cider.
Behold: the lightbox. It was a food blogger's dream to have this at our disposal for the night.
First up for the table was a crispy, delicious salted baguette served with "three fat textures," which were a lavender lard, clarified butter and whipped brown butter. I never thought that the words "I think I'll have more of the lard" would leave my mouth, but they did...multiple times.
Chef Ludo plates our next dish
While we were still stuffing our faces with the bread, the next dish arrived-- Carrot Salad with saffron anglaise cream, pearl onions, citrus and mustard powder. The carrots were not only beautiful to look at but also delightful to eat. They had a smoky flavor that made them unlike any other carrot I have eaten.
In an interesting touch, the blood orange, orange and lemon were cooked in such a way that you could eat the rind with the fruit. Yum!
Next on the menu was an Egg and Potato Mousseline with Lobster and Borage Flower. Although I am Japanese and from Hawai'i, I do not particularly enjoy seafood (Chef Ludo: "You are Japanese...but no seafood??). I recently, however, decided that I would like to try lobster, and here was my opportunity!
The lobster pieces were like little surprises in the sea of potato-y goodness and, to my surprise, I very much like lobster! I did, however, leave the egg. One step at a time.
Then came Chef Ludo's famed Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur with Lemon Turnip Chutney. Foie gras was another first for me, and it paired beautifully with the prosciutto, cheese and chutney.
After the croque-monsieur, it was time for Burgundy Escargots with Garlic Flan, Green Jus and Yellow Flowers. Krissy correctly guessed that escargot were also new for me and, although I won't rush to eat it again, I did enjoy the overall garlic flavor of this dish and the beautiful presentation.
The first protein was Colombian River King Salmon Confit with Spring Cabbage, Orange Skin and Juniper Berries.
Chef Ludo plates the next dish
The second protein was Poached Jidori Chicken topped with Crispy Skin and Hazelnuts served with Garden Vegetables and Bacon Royale. A forkful of the chicken + crispy skin + a dollop of the bacon royale= pure heaven.
By this point, I was pretty full...but then the Brie Chantilly Napoleon with Honey Comb, Frisee Salad and Balsamic drizzle arrived. The brie was whipped for an astounding two hours before it reached our plates and was incredibly fluffy and light. The brie, honeycomb and balsamic were absolutely phenomenal together.
When we all turned around to see what was in store for dessert, a universal "whoa" spread throughout the room. A giant souffle?! After all that food? I couldn't possibly! Oh well, if you insist.
This was no ordinary souffle, but a Dark Chocolate Souffle with Black Pepper Milk Chocolate Ice Cream and Chocolate Cream. The ice cream was bold and peppery--a strange mix of spicy and sweet that was fantastically delicious.
After the dinner, Chef Ludo spoke with us about his love for pushing the envelope in his cooking and how he looks forward to changing up the menu throughout LudoBites 4.0's run. He hinted that the menu may get more "provocative" after the first two weeks.
What a lovely night! Although I, of course, enjoyed the food, I also loved the wonderful company of my fellow blogger friends (nice to meet you all!), the fantastic FoodDigger crew and the whole LudoBites team.
LudoBites 4.0 runs from April 8-May 28 but, if you don't already have your reservations, you had better get looking for someone who does; reservations were 100% booked within 24 hours.
Thank you to Chef Ludo and Krissy, FoodDigger, DomaineLA for an unforgettable night!
LudoBites 4.0 @ Gram & Papa's
227 E. 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015