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Ludobites Review with Pics

Ludobites at Breadbar (til 08/22)
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310 205 0124

Breadbar is BYOB, no corkage. Lee's Liquor on 3rd is about a block away, so we stopped in there and among their kinda not so great selection found one lone bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape. Louis Bernard Red Rhone Wine, 2005. A lower priced Chateauneuf, but after breathing a bit it was perfectly serviceable for wetting our whistles while noshing on Ludo's small plates.

What the hades is Ludobites? Ludobites is a guerrilla style pop-up restaurant created by Chef Ludo Lefebvre, recently featured as the melt-down king of pig's ears quesadillas on Top Chef Masters. Please do not hold that against him, different people work well in different kinds of situations, and in his own kitchen Ludo's food shines. He has a very loyal following of bloggers and food eaters in Los Angeles, and it can be hard to get a reservation right now at Breadbar. From his website Ludo says that the goal is to, "create a new 'bistronomy' cuisine that features Michelin style French cuisine with modern technique offered at affordable prices". The plan is to offer a "restaurant within a restaurant" by coming in to do temporary dinner service in restaurants that only typically offer breakfast and lunch. Genius in concept, one of my favorite recent restaurant experiences in execution.

Food. Wonderful food. All the food is small or moderately small plates intended to share. We started by sharing the White Asparagus Veloute with Mozzarella Ice Cream, Shaved Fennel, Dried Olives and Lemon Zest. Starting off on the right foot, this was elegant and innovative.
Look at this pic carefully and you can see the differences in the two soft textures. On the outside the soup is, well, thick and soupy and the ice cream remains just barely frozen in the middle. The temperatures mixed interestingly, the soup being served at a fairly ambient temperature, and the ice cream just barely cold enough to be able to discern the differences in texture and flavor. Flavor from the dried olives was very intense, keeping the asparagus and mozzarella flavors from being too mild.

Poached Egg 65 Degrees with Savory French Toast, Black Truffles and Parmesan-Onions. Soft poached egg with black truffle and whatever those two delicious sauces are on the bottom of the plate. I wish I snapped a pic of the egg broken open. The yolk was that perfect bright orange with a luxurious almost pate-like texture. Spreadable, and not the slightest bit runny. Good thing the bus person came along when he did, because I was about embarrass my easily embarrassed husband by licking the plate. I swear.

Cod with Spiced Butter, Fresh Porcinis & Almonds served Tonnato style. This was the only meh of the evening. The ingredients all look and sound wonderful together, the quality was good and the freshness and texture beautiful together. But the flavors were flat. There was nothing popping on this dish. Next.

Next was good, very good. Creamy Polenta, Cantal Cheese and Oxtail Meat. While fairly well buried in the delicious and not overly rich polenta, the oxtail meat was generously portioned. Basically it was just barely surrounded by polenta. I might make this at home with the leftovers the next time I make oxtails. Because I rarely cook, it takes true inspiration to get me in the kitchen. If I want to riff on something a chef does, that is the highest compliment I can give.

Surprisingly, D was less inspired by the Heirloom Tomato Salad, with Red Onions, Feta Mousse and Oregano. He said, this isn't that original or unique. My thought was this is the perfect spin on a classic summertime heirloom salad, with the feta mousse. Not much needs to be done to a Greek style tomato salad to improve upon perfection. He wisely agreed. It was acidic marvelousness balanced by the creaminess of the cheesy mousse.

Strangely, we ended with the Chicken Liver Mousse with Cornichons and Green Apples. Strange because it's really an hors d'ouevres. It was super good though, the sweet green apple surprising against the sour of the pickle and the richness of the liver.

We had a really wonderful meal, with great service. Really great, comfy personal service. Nothing pretentious or ever the least bit formal. I love this kind of service, like these people could be your next door neighbors or someone you sat next to having drinks at your favorite bar.

review with pics: http://foodshethought.blogspot.com/20...

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  1. I think there is modest corkage; $5 corkage the last two times we went. We went last week again and had a nice meal, tried quite a few of the new things on the menu (daily menus are online on ludo's website: http://www.ludolefebvre.com/ludo-bite...). We particularly liked the chorizo soup and poached egg. Only small gripe is that prices went up quite a bit on several of the more entree-like selections vs. the time we went earlier in June; our bill was about $50 more than the last time we went and we ordered slightly less food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ericat

      you are right, i looked on the website and it did say $5 corkage. our bill was about $80, but we ate a lot.

      1. Thank you for the review; I was curious about his restaurant after TCM aired.

        1. Hey Lotta Lox - Great review as always; I always enjoy reading your reviews!! We are planning to go to Ludo Bites tonight --- I'm sure the waiter can stear is, but how many items do you suggest? Are the small plates like 2 bites, or more to share? Thanks in advance!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Obessed

            wow. my response is really late but I would advise 3-4 per person. that's what we did and left full but not over full.

          2. I have a question for anyone that's been, I'm thinking of a spot for an anniversary dinner.
            I really like Ludo's food and will go, but am debating whether this is the occasion.

            What's are the room and tables like? Decent? Decent service? Decent wine stems?

            I see the menu listed above. For an extensive meal for two foodies, would eight dishes be about right.? As an example, I think at Bazaar, not.

            2 Replies
            1. re: john gonzales

              NO! no stems, i think we drank wine out of tumblers, IIRC. also, it is super casual, go for an anniversary if you are both DYING to go. The food is certainly worthy. However, the atmosphere is really not celebratory. the room is v small, we ate outside against a wall. remember this is a b'fast and lunch place known for their bread.

              The service, however, was sublime. More casual and friendly than Bazaar, but just wonderful. I haven't had better service anywhere. 8 dishes for two people would be great. I plan to go again in 2 weeks with friends in town from UK.

              1. re: lotta_cox

                Exactly, it's just a nice little breakfast/lunch cafe. So if you sit inside you'll be at one of 4 or 5 counter-like tables on backless stools. Each table seats 6 so if there are only two of you, you'll likely be seated with another party or two. Assuming that's not desirable for an anniversary, you'd probably want to sit outside on the patio where there are regular metal cafe tables with basic whicker chairs. But it's all pretty casual.

            2. The place is fantastic. Can't say I'm crazy about the seating arrangements, but I'm definitely going back. Hardest part is finding parking, you may need to park on the street and walk a bit.

              2 Replies
              1. re: martiniman

                If you're going on a weeknight and can plan your dinner for 7:00, that's when all the 3rd Street parking turns legal again and you can easily grab a spot right then...for about 5 minutes before it all disappears.

                Of course there's always the valet too, for those so inclined.

                1. re: wutzizname

                  I went around 6:45pm. I ended up parking a few blocks away because none of the meters were available. It really annoys me that the city doesn't do anything reasonable about parking. I try to avoid valets if possible because I don't trust them. Quite a few times my car came back with some extra dings. Despite all of that, I'm going back.

              2. I went this weekend and tried the whole menu. The chorizo soup was absolutely amazing. Best thing I've had in awhile. All other dishes were very good except one that I had to send back, the pork belly. It was so tough the busser came by asked if we needed a sharper knife I replied with I shouldn't need one. Showed the waiter and he immediately took it away and off our bill. I love pork belly and was sad not to have it but oh well. I was impressed with Ludo Bites and look forward to going back. Also they have one of the best soundtracks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SDGourmand

                  the chorizo soup with the pickle granita was psychotically good.

                  1. re: SDGourmand

                    Yeah, the chorizo is amazing (had no idea on the soup when we ordered it, a nice surprise now ruined for everyone reading this!) ; )

                    Our pork belly was perfectly cooked, crisp outside, tender throughout.

                  2. finally went this past wknd... loved the concept and the small bustly atmosphere but the food was not as great as i had anticipated. seemed like the ideas of the dishes were better in theory than in reality. gotta love ludo and his charm tho :)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: namstermonster

                      Ditto. Enjoyed the experience overall, but the food did not quite live up to all the hype. It was definitely good, some dishes better than others, but a few of the "small plates" our group of 6 didn't even finish...which I guess says a lot. I would go back...but I would order more carefully and with less enthusiasm.

                      1. re: wutzizname

                        that's a shame. everything we ordered that night was so wonderfully sublime. i go again tonight with friends. hopefully i have not overhyped it in my mind.

                        1. re: lotta_cox

                          oh, when will you be there? I have a 9pm reservation tonight so hopefully I'll see you there!

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            shoot molly! i missed your post. i only check in on chowhounds a couple times a week. I was there with 2 girlfriends eating at the end of one of the long communcal tables between 7:30 and 10.

                    2. Went last night and had a great meal, even if not every dish was a hit. Highlights of the meal:

                      cold chorizo soup with cornichon granita and cataloupe -- i loved this dish, despite finding cantaloupe the only food in the world i really can't choke down no matter how hard i try. but i ate around the cataloupe cubes and throroughly enjoyed it.

                      the creamy polenta with black truffles and oxtail -- also really delicious. the texture of the polenta was perfectly creamy, and the hint of truffle was perceptible, but didn't overwhelm the dish. and there was a delicious surprise of meltengly tender shreds of oxtail at the bottom of the bowl. it's the comfort food my mother should have made.

                      foie gras croque monsieur -- oh my lord, this was incredible. it's on beautiful, black bread that we learned if darkened with squid ink. ludo created the recipe and breadbar makes it for him although, sadly, not for sale just in the store. it's fried in clarified butter and sandwiched in between is foie gras mousse, i believe prosciutto, cherry (maybe preserves?) and cheese. it's hard to go wrong with that combination under any circumstances, but this was excellent.

                      the duck breast with crispy duck skin puree and carrot cake coulis -- while not all the elements of this came together, i have to mention this because this was one of the most perfectly cooked pieces of duck i've had in a long time. the crispy duck skin puree was interesting, especially texturally with the tiny pieces of duck skin still in the puree, but it was entirely overwhelmed by the intense flavor of the gastrique that was drizzled over it. the carrot cake coulis was pretty but cloying.

                      the panna cotta with caviar and caramel sauce -- this was one of those dishes that if you got too much of any of the elements in any bite it was wrong, but if you could manage the perfect balance, was sublime. on its own, the caramel sauce was overly sweet and lacked dimension, but with the addition of the caviar, created the perfect salted caramel that was mellowed out by the creaminess of the panna cotta.

                      We ordered a number of other dishes, but these were the ones I would order again. Our server was sometimes overbearing, but still sweet and trying hard and we got to chat with both Ludo and his wife as the night wound down. Bill was $41 pp which is a fantastic bargain considering the quality of the ingredients and the inventiveness of the food.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        the foie in my sandwich looked like foie itself, not mousse. did the server say it was mousse? mine was cooked improperly so I took mine apart and ate the elements separately, and it looked like a generous slice of foie.

                        1. re: lotta_cox

                          I think Ludo's wife actually told us that's what it was, but I could be totally wrong about what she said. I was at the table right in front of the bread counter with a male and female friend. Next time! I follow you on Twitter so I'll direct message you if we happen to be in the same place at the same time again! :)

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            I think I can clear up the confusion here. It is definitely a foie gras terrine inside the croque. I have had it no less than 3 times. It is such an amazing creation. I will say the overall texture of the sandwich has gotten better since they replaced the panini machine. I am going back for another perfect sandwich tonight.

                      2. There was a terrific addition to the menu this week: a veal tartare in a tonnato sauce that was outstanding among a series of excellent dishes (the chilled chorizo soup was amazing and I am so glad he brought back the foie croque from last year!)--the only miss as far as I was concerned was the "spaghetti" carbonara with Santa Barbara prawns. While the prawns were quite good, the celery root did not work for me as a substitute for pasta and I would have preferred the bacon chopped in rather than served as a long strip alongside. Sadly coming to an end next week but he plans to have another run somewhere this October and is looking for a permanent home.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: New Trial

                          I am going tonight and plan on having the "spaghetti" carbonara. I will report back. I do love celery root though.

                        2. Had the foie gras croque, so lovely as others have stated. I liked the boudin noir, very interesting texture and light flavor. My wife ordered the heirloom tomato salad which was so deliciously sweet with perfect tomatoes, and the beef tenderloin. We enjoyed our night there with a wonderful bottle of Artiste which I shared with chef Ludo. Glad we made it in before he finished this run.

                          Thanks LC, I also dig the concept.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: streetgourmetla

                            I didn't love the boudin noir. the texture was unsatisfying to me.

                          2. I know there's only 48hrs left, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents for a dish I haven't seen mentioned yet.
                            Loved the green beans with coconut, apple, horseradish and lemongrass. The tart horseradish foam was in danger of overwhelming the dish, but if you were careful about your bites, it was just perfect.
                            The other standout for me was absolutely the polenta. The last time I had black truffle flavor that intense was a decade ago in Italy. Delicious, I was absolutely stuffed and couldn't stop eating it.
                            Also, simple though it is, I almost tried to smuggle out the remaing lavendar honey butter in my pocket. I want that every morning on my toast...
                            Oh, and also, I was incredilbly impressed with the service. I haven't been to a restaurant in some time where everyone seemed so friendly, so bustling and so interested in food. Overall a great experience, hope he pops up again!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                              My guess is that Chef Ludo will extend the run...

                              1. re: J.L.

                                obviously he didn't extend the run, however we will definitely be seeing more of him this fall.

                                1. re: lotta_cox

                                  can you elaborate? i know it's been a source of controversy on eaterla...

                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                    He is planning on opening at an as yet undisclosed location. I heard him speak about one he was considering during a large dinner party, however I prefer not to publish what I overheard. I think we can expect to see him in a kitchen again hopefully before the end of the year.