Red O – 5/30/10

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048

When it was announced what Rick Bayless was going to be involved in a restaurant in LA, it was a big deal. No one knew what exactly his involvement would be or what the concept would be of, but the notion that the most famous American chef of Mexican cuisine would be coming to LA was exciting news.

I remember watching Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time on PBS a while back, and that show lasted a number of seasons. While already a notable chef, Bayless’ big boost into prominence was his win on Top Chef Masters last year.

exterior4 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

While not officially a Rick Bayless restaurant (it’s not part of his restaurant group), he is a chef-consultant, and helped create the menu. My understanding is that this is his food, with his name on it, but he doesn’t have a significant equity stake in the business.

The menu features a large number of small plates to share, as well seven entrees. As my friend is vegetarian, we did not order a large number of plates to share; instead, I sampled some of hers, and ate my own.

Classic Guacamole – freshly made, chunky, with warm chips & salsa
guac 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

Guacamole is a simple, classic dish. Bayless does it well. It is slightly chunky, and extremely fresh tasting. The chips weren’t quite as warm as expected – I suspect they had been sitting for a little bit as they were only moderately warm.

Mazatlan Blue Shrimp Ceviche – mango, red onion, chipotle-chile
shrimp ceviche 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

This was a great ceviche. The shrimp were “cooked” perfectly, and again, the ingredients were very evidently fresh. They have to be for a good ceviche. This came with thin slices of fried plantains which, honestly, weren’t even necessary.

Slow-Cooked Sonoma Duck Taquitos – tomato-arbol chile sauce, arugula
taquito 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

For the most part, my taquito experiences have been from fast food restaurants, with often-overcooked and dry results. Obviously, this is a different kind of restaurant, and a different kind of taquito. These were cooked very well, and the duck was really moist. I really liked the mild heat of the sauce, as well as the fresh, peppery taste of the arugula.

Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Tamale - roasted poblano chiles, corn husk
tamale 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

A delicious tamale! This is what it should taste like, with a very nice, moist interior and good corn flavor. The poblano chiles add an extra depth of flavor to this otherwise-simple dish.

Savory Beef Short Rib Tamales – smoky chipotle chiles, corn husk
beef tamale 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

Surprisingly, this tamale disappointed a bit, especially after having the vegetarian version. The beef was rather dry on the interior, and even the corn tamale was a bit drier here than in the previous version.

Roasted Garlic Mushroom Tacos – shitake, oyster, cremini & wild chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic mojo, spinach, black beans
mushroom taco 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

This came with a side of small flour tortillas for you to make your own soft tacos. A medley of mushrooms were included here, and they were cooked well, as well as the spinach. A tasty vegetarian dish.

Pollo en Mole Poblano – grilled Mary’s young chicken, homemade mole poblano, black beans, watercress salad
pollo mole 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

I just had to try the mole here. Just had to. There’s 27 ingredients! And it was good, with a really deep flavor. The chicken had a really crispy skin, and a nice smoky grilled flavor. However, the breast meat was just a tad dry.

Veracruz-Style Bunuelos – salted caramel ice cream, warm Kahlua chocolate sauce
dessert1 500x335 Red O   5/30/10

Deep fried dough with ice cream. Every culture has this dish. I was just ‘okay’ on this one. The Bunuelos were crunchy and chewy, but just weren’t that appealing to me. Loved the salted caramel ice cream though – haven’t had this since Bi-Rite in San Francisco.

Overall, this was a very good meal. I was excited for Bayless’ arrival, and, as a whole, it did not disappoint me. There are a number of traditional Mexican dishes executed very well, and some more modern Mexican dishes also done well. I think this restaurant, already looking to be a hotspot due to Bayless’ celebrity, will do well in the foreseeable future.

Mitsuwa’s Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair – 5/29/10

Mitsuwa Marketplace
665 Paularino Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

For four days only, 5/27-5/30, Mitsuwa held its Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair across the country, offering up various specialties from Japanese vendors. The event gives Americans a taste of some of the food popular in Japan, but not widely available locally. For me, the large draw is the ramen shops. In the SoCal area, Chibakiya would be serving up bowls in Torrance, and Hakata Ippudo in Costa Mesa. I’ve been hearing things about Ippudo for a long time now (as they have a very popular branch in NYC) and I’ve been wanting to try it. This was a perfect opportunity!

We arrived at around 1pm, and the parking lot was extremely crowded. Crap. I expected lines to be long, with ramen fans coming from far and wide to sample Ippudo’s ramen, as well as the other vendor specialties.

The first stall you see walking in is of takoyaki being freshly-made. Takoyaki is a popular Japanese street food, consisting of a chunk of octopus in a flour tempura-like batter, and in this variation, topped with bonito flakes and powdered seaweed.

takoyaki sign 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

All day, these were being freshly made. Skilled chefs were in charge, and it’s a pretty unique display. Since all of the takoyaki are cooking at the same time, when it’s time to flip, they have to flip each one individually as soon as possible, lest they burn.

cooking takoyaki 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

The takoyaki comes in boxes of 8. While they are freshly made, they sit in these boxes for at least a few minutes. Added with the sauce on top, these became very soggy in a hurry. Overall, it was sort of a ball of mush, but with a nice chunk of octopus inside. The flavors were somewhat muddled, I found, as well.

takoyaki 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Some of the other vendors featured various fish cakes.

fish cake 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Shinkineya’s rendition of tama konnyaku.

tama konnyaku 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

And inari and seafood bento boxes.

inari bento box 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

However, to me, the main attraction was Ippudo.

ippudo 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10
When we got there, Ippudo’s line was relatively short, and would stay this way the rest of the day. Each time we went to get one, the bowls were ready within 10 minutes.

menu4 224x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Ippudo was offering one ramen, their Shiromaru Motoaji, a rich tonkotsu-style ramen.

ramen11 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

The portion was on the smaller side, and topped with your option of pork, pickled ginger, crushed garlic, and sesame seed. The broth was milky and flavorful, and not overly fatty. Really delicious.

ramen21 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Noodles, handmade fresh, were flour-based and thin, traditional of Hakata-style ramen. They were prepared with just the amount of chew desired.

ramen3 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

The pieces of pork belly chashu, sliced rather thick, were wonderful. They were actually relatively lean, which I liked. The meat was very tender, and the marinade imparted a lot of flavor.

This was a great bowl of soup, and exactly the main attraction we had come for. It was clearly superior to the Hakata-style ramen we have in SoCal (Shin Sen Gumi is the most popular of this type), and me and my friend enjoyed four bowls of it.

Since we were there, we stopped by Santouka (it’s located in the same food court), to get a baseline. Granted, these are two different styles of ramen, but it would be good to compare Ippudo to something we consistently found to be good in SoCal.

santouka 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

We got the regular shio ramen, their most well-known.

santouka ramen1 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

I tend to like the yellow, egg-y, curly noodles better than the straight white noodles of typical Hakata-style.

santouka ramen2 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Again, these two styles were very different. Santouka executes their version very well, with a slightly oilier broth, and nicely chewy noodles. However, I preferred Ippudo on this day.

The festival also provided something sweet: mochi.mochi menu 224x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10

Fresh, soft mochi was paired with a number of different flavors; we chose the sesame paste and red bean paste.

mochi 500x335 Mitsuwas Japanese Gourmet Foods Fair   5/29/10These mochi were definitely fresh – soft, gummy and chewy. The red bean paste was good, but I preferred the stronger sesame paste better. At this point in the day though, I was sufficiently full to not thoroughly enjoy them.

Overall, the festival was pretty fun. My biggest surprise was that it wasn’t more crowded. Santouka’s line was consistently longer than Ippudo’s, for some reason, and the only other station with a wait was for takoyaki. The food, as well as the variety, was definitely a success.

LudoBites – 5/26/10

LudoBites 4.0 at Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

I was lucky enough to be able to make a return visit to this incarnation of LudoBites - Ludo had changed up the menu a bit since then, so there were a good number of new dishes to try. Of course, there were some “old favorites” I wanted to re-visit as well.

menu3 224x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

Once again, we started the meal off with the Tartine Plate.

Tartine Plate “Warm Baguette” Honey-Lavender Butter & Smoked Lard

tartine 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

Delicious again, I really couldn’t get enough of the honey lavender butter – superb!

Veal Tartar, Oysters, Almond Oil, Lemon, Seaweed, Tonnato Sauce
veal tartare 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

This was the first of the ‘new’ dishes this go-around – I enjoyed this dish, but I didn’t love it. The tartare resembled a ceviche, interestingly, with the veal marinating in the lemon juice. I thought the veal’s texture was a little chewy, but the flavors were good.

Black Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur, Cherry-Amaretto Chutney
croque monsieur1 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

Nom nom nom. I love this dish – complex yet simple at the same time. It’s basically just a croque monsieur, but with foie gras. Oh and the bread is dipped in squid ink. It’s a really nice chunk of duck liver in the sandwich, which creates a melt-in-your-mouth bite.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Cone, Mango, Red Spicy Mayo, Corona Granite
soft shell crab 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

This was another dish new to me, and had a fun presentation. Without looking closely, it kind of resembles a few scoops of coffee ice cream in a waffle cone, drizzled with fudge. In actuality, this was soft shell crab fried tempura-style. mixed with spicy mayo. and put into a sesame waffle cone. Served with a Corona granite – haha fun! I found the crab to be a little chewy here, though.

For the entrees, we shared (at least) one of each.

Squid “Carbonara,” Pancetta, Poached Egg (63 degrees), Parmesan Snow, Chive Flowers
squid carbonara 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

Calamari rings were the “pasta” in this Carbonara, and were cooked perfectly. That was integral to the dish, as all-too-often the squid is chewy. Essentially, squid must be cooked very quickly or very long in order for it to be tender. In this case, it was cooked quickly and tossed in a Carbonara. The sauce was rich, yet not overpowering to the subtle squid. The egg added a nice richness, and the pork belly lended a nice salty flavor.

Monkfish, Baby Carrots, Orange-Carrot Cake Coulis, Exotic Spices
monkfish 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

The monkfish was cooked well, but is a really dense fish. It may be  due to personal preference, but none of our party really liked the fish here – the black sea bass used in the last visit was definitely preferable.

Braised Beef Cheeks, Escargots, Red Wine Butter, Leek Salad, Roasted Eggplant
beef cheeks 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

Admittedly, the picture doesn’t look too appetizing. The cheeks were braised well, however, with a rich and deep flavor. Very tender, as well.

Rack of Lamb, Goat Cheese, Artichoke, Potato Mousseline, Mint
lamb3 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10
A holdover from our previous visit, and I was glad to see it. The lamb here, again, was very tender and flavorful. A little gamey in a nice way. I’d eat a whole rack of this.

The potato mousseline that came with it was delicious.
potatoes3 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

The last entree, of which we ordered three, was the chicken.

“Pepittes” of Fried Chicken, Coconut Polenta, Grilled Baby Corn, Bok Choy, Diablo Sauce

chicken 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

I first tried LudoBites’s fried chicken at the LA Street Food Fest in February, when I waited three hours. I tend to regard this as one of the best “bites” in LA, so I was glad to see it on the menu here. It did not disappoint. Crispy on the outside, and very moist and tender on the inside. The seasoning with herbs is very evident, both inside the chicken and outside within the batter. Simply delicious.

For dessert were the two usual suspects:

Dark Chocolate Souffle, Vanilla Whipped Cream, Hot Chocolate Cream

souffle1 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

souffle2 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

I love this souffle. The dark chocolate adds some nice depth, and a little bitterness, which goes really well with the whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Strawberry, Macaron, Lemon-Verbena Meringue
strawberry1 500x335 LudoBites   5/26/10

I think this dish is slightly overshadowed by the souffle because, well…everyone loves chocolate. This dish is more original, more creative. Sweet strawberries and macarons are topped with a meringue. Light and sweet, I really enjoyed this dish.

Another visit to LudoBites, and another really satisfying meal. I’m really glad he put the fried chicken on the menu, as I just love that stuff. Ludo continues to create some great dishes, and I’m already curious as to where and when his next LudoBites will pop up.

Daikokuya – 5/18/10

Daikokuya
327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Syrup Desserts
611 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Daikokuya is my favorite ramen shop in Southern California. I’ve been so many times I’ve lost count. I first went when I was in college, and the rich, murky, pork fat-laden broth really opened my eyes. Having grown up in San Francisco, we didn’t have any of this – ramen was served in a miso or shoyu broth. While these were tasty in its own right, a pork tonkotsu broth was on a different level. Daikokuya simmers kurobuta pork bones for almost a full day as the basis for their broth – how can you miss with that? I’ve been coming back ever since, each time braving the seemingly ever-present lines.

exterior3 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

On a random Tuesday evening, the wait outside the restaurant was in full force. After about 40 minutes, we were seated at the bar.

interior1 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

Daikokuya is a typical ramen shop, with a few tables and a bar around the kitchen. While the ramen here is obviously the main draw, Daikokuya does a number of other dishes well, including their rice plates. Their gyoza is rather unique in style, and we got an order of those.

gyoza 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

Flat noodles are wrapped around the filling and pan-fried. The shape really allows for maximum crispiness, as there’s a lot more surface area for browning. Good stuff.

The rice dishes are quite good here, but my favorite is the fried rice.

fried rice 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

Chunks of pork belly, egg, corn and green onions are stir fried with the glutinous rice, making for a really delicious dish.

Next up, what everyone comes for – the ramen.

ramen1 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

A big bowl full of broth, noodles, bamboo shoots, a soft-boiled egg, and slices of kurobuta pork belly are topped with green onions and sesame seeds. It’s a beautiful sight.

ramen2 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

The broth has a deep, rather intense flavor to it. While the fat content is rather high in the soup, it doesn’t taste overly fatty. I really like the noodles too, curly with a nice chew to them. The pork belly really meshes well with everything – I used to try to avoid the fat and just eat the meat, but now I just eat the whole thing. Just a very delicious and satisfying bowl of noodles.

Feeling like a some dessert, we dropped by Syrup Desserts, which is nearby in the Arts District off-downtown. I’ve posted about Syrup Desserts before, trying out some of their waffles. This time, we would try their crepes.

Banana and Nutella – Fresh bananas, Strawberry ice cream, Nutella, toasted walnuts

crepe1 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

It took a ridiculous amount of time for the dessert to arrive, but when it finally did, it did not disappoint. The crepe is light with a Nutella filling – hard to fail with that combination. The whipped cream was good as well, though some of the strawberries were sweet and some were tart.

Brazilia – ripe bananas, vanilla bean ice cream, mozzarella cheese, cinnamon and sugar

crepe2 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10

I’ve never actually had cheese in a sweet crepe, and this worked out pretty good. The warm, melted cheese melded with the chocolate, bananas and ice cream.

I had been craving an ice cream sundae all day, for some reason. I ended up with a sundae with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, brownie bits, whipped cream and a cherry. The sundae was pretty good and hit the spot, was wasn’t anything special.

sundae 500x335 Daikokuya   5/18/10
In all, we had a pleasant meal with enough calories to last a while. Daikokuya is consistently satisfying, and Syrup Desserts is a great place to get a comfortable, gourmet dessert treat.

Providence – 5/14/10

Providence
5955 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

exterior1 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

exterior2 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

My friend is graduating from law school next week, and she’s been meaning to come here for a while.  We made the reservation and were on our way!

I first sampled Michael Cimarusti’s cooking when he was at Water Grill. Soon after, he would set out on his own, opening up Providence in 2005.  It became a hit instantly, garnering numerous accolades – currently, it’s one of four restaurants in LA with two Michelin stars (none have three). I’ve considered Providence the second-best restaurant in LA (behind Urasawa) and hadn’t been in a  number of months – another visit was in order.

menu2 207x335 Providence   5/14/10

The first thing to come out was the amuse bouche trio of a gin & tonic, margarita, and a dish made of trout, spiced cream and puffed rice.

amuse1 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

This two “cocktails” are the same amuses that Providence has had for a little while now, and I like them. They’ll definitely remind people of the Bazaar, for it’s molecular gastronomy-like preparation.

Japanese Kanpachi – crispy rice crackers, coriander, soy crème fraîchekanpachi 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

Providence is primarily known for seafood – and this was the first dish that really presented some fresh, flavorful seafood. The kanpachi was good, thought not a really soft, tender piece of fish. The crispy rice crackers lended some texture, but may not really have been necessary.

Bobby’s Block Island Scallops – Japanese eggplant, rhubarb, cashews, reduction of vadouvan and juranconscallop 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

What a delicious scallop this was! Nicely browned with a perfectly cooked interior. The sauce was a curry-type sauce, and had a really nice depth of flavor. Surprisingly, it did not overpower the scallop, but rather complemented it quite well.

Spaghetti Alla Chitarra – Santa Barbara sea urchin, spot prawns, English peas, green onions
pasta 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

Beautiful dish again here – I love pasta and seafood together, and this was no exception. the prawns were very sweet and perfectly cooked, and the spaghetti was al dente.

Wild Pacific Halibut – smoked paprika, Weiser Farms potatoes, grilled local squid
halibut1 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

The fish here was cooked well, again. The halibut was moist and flavorful, and the squid provided some chew, but wasn’t overly chewy.

Foie Gras Ravioli – Italian black summer truffles, aromatics, parmesanfoie1 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

foie2 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

The ravioli was brought out, and black truffles were shaved on it at the table. The ravioli was good too, with a great chew to it. Flavors were great, between the rich foie gras and the earthy truffles and parmesan.

Marcho Farms Veal Tenderloim – sweet peas, bacon, almond, morel mushrooms
lamb2 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

The veal here, cooked sous vide, was extremely tender. A butter knife could’ve easily sliced through it. The almonds and morels were good with it too, but the bacon was missing.

Yuzu Curd, Meringue – blackberry sorbet, jasmine
dessert 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

This dessert was okay. The yuzu curd was, thankfully, not too sour. However, nothing really shined on this plate.

To finish, we got a plate of mignardises of vanilla macarons, caramels and passion fruit gelee.
mignardises1 500x335 Providence   5/14/10

These were all pretty good, with the macaron being my favorite.

In all, we had a very solid meal, definitely solidifying its status in my top 2 restaurants in LA. The seafood was all cooked very well on this day, and the flavors and execution were definitely there. I look forward to my next time at Providence.

LudoBites – 5/11/10

LudoBites 4.0 at Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

What’s the most sought-after reservation in Los Angeles right now? It’s likely a table at LudoBites, Ludovic Lefebvre’s pop-up restaurant now happening in downtown LA. The buzz around Ludo is immense, from his most recent feature in Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1986775,00.html), to his recent appearance on Top Chef Masters, to his continued popularity with Jonathan Gold (who was a fellow diner on this night), and to his extreme devotion among food bloggers. Reservations to his 1.5 month stint at Gram and Papa’s were fully booked on the day of the announcement. Luckily, I was able to get two of them. The first, begins below.

exterior 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

interior 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

Menu is shown below. Click for larger version.

menu1 224x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

We decided to sample a number of dishes from the menu, in order to try as much as possible.

Tartine Plate “Warm Baguette” Honey-Lavender Butter & Smoked Lard

baguette 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

The baguette was freshly baked and still hot. It had a generous sprinkling of sea salt, which I really liked. The smoked lard was good stuff – like extra-strong bacon fat. But even better was the honey-lavender butter – exceptional. Reminiscent of Bi-Rite Creamery’s Honey-Lavender ice cream, it had a great flavor that really went well with the bread, especially with the sea salt.

Brie Chantilly, Honey Comb, Frisee Salad, Balsamicbrie chantilly 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This dish was quite good as well, with a very rich and creamy brie cream. The balsamic and honey comb were excellent accoutrements, balancing well with the cheesy cream.

Seabream Ceviche, Heirloom Tomato, Jalapenos, Meyer Lemon Paste, Cilantro Flower
ceviche 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This was a good ceviche, with the jalapeno and cilantro adding a lot of flavor. The presentation was beautiful as well. Not exceptional or wildly original, but a very solid ceviche.

Black Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur, Cherry-Amaretto Chutney
croque monsieur 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

Very interesting dish. The bread is dipped in squid ink and toasted. A generous portion of foie gras and some pancetta (I think? some kind of ham) is mixed in between. The richness of the liver is cut by the sweetness of the chutney. Brilliant. A really exceptional dish.

Boudin Noir Mousse, Apple, Wasabi
boudin noir 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This was an interesting dish. The texture was one very much of liver, with a grainy element to it. I thought the apple and wasabi worked well with the mousse, but by personal preference, this was not my favorite dish.

Throughout the appetizers, we had been sipping on a Spanish Gordello, of which I forgot to take a picture of. As an intermezzo, we had an Alesmith X, which had a nice fruity taste, cleansing the palate nicely.beer 224x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

And with that, we were on to the entrees, paired with a merlot.

wine 224x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

Black Sea Bass, Fresh Sansho Pepper, Fresh Peas, Lettuce, Spring Onions, Yuzu
sea bass 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

The bass here was cooked very well. Nicely flaky and moist.  Another really nicely presented plate with the colors and the flower.

Bavette, Escargots Red Butter, Shallots Jam, Roasted Eggplant, Carrot Slaw
bavette 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This dish was probably the most disappointing of the night – largely because the beef was tough. Like..surprisingly chewy and tough. Otherwise, I had no complaints, but that pretty much ruined the dish.

Rack of Lamb, Fresh Goat Cheese, Dried Bonito, Artichokes, Potato Mousseline, Mint
lamb1 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

Mmm the lamb was really juicy and tender. There aren’t that many things better than a juicy piece of tender lamb flesh. The lamb was a little gamey, which I enjoyed. I just wish there were a couple more pieces. The potatoes were delicious.

Next were the desserts, of which there were two options – chocolate or strawberry. To pair with dessert, we had Allagash Oddysey.

beer2 224x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This strong dark ale was really nice with the desserts, especially the chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Souffle, Vanilla Whipped Cream, Hot Chocolate Cream

souffle 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

souffle side 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

Hot damn! This was a fantastic chocolate souffle. Better than Bottega Louie’s. There I said it. The best I’ve had in LA.  Very warm and fresh with a nice chocolate flavor, the chocolate cream only added depth of chocolate flavor. The whipped cream, very light and mildly sweet, went well.

Strawberry, Macaron, Lemon-Verbena Meringue
strawberry 500x335 LudoBites   5/11/10

This dessert was much lighter than the chocolate, and topped with the same whipped cream that I enjoyed. The strawberries were nice and sweet, and the macarons provided a chewy texture. I think pop rocks were added on top of the dish, adding an unexpected dimension to the dish! Interestingly, it was my second dessert with pop rocks in the past couple weeks, starting with the Dining Room at the Langham.

We were all very pleased with our meal, even considering we were coming in with high expectations. There were a number of highlights, including the baguette with honey-lavender butter, the foie gras croque-monsieur, sea bass and souffle. The only dish that really was a disappointment was the beef. Ludo even made his rounds, greeting the tables, and we were able to chat with him for a moment. In all, it was a satisfying meal and I look forward to coming back.