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Dec 10, 2009 02:26 AM

Extremely classy recovery by Chef Ludo and Royal/T on an "off" night - Bravo! [REVIEW]

Hi gang,

Mrs. J.L. & I just wanted to publicly give a shoutout to Chef Ludo and his wife Krissy for demonstrating class and skills on what could have been an otherwise disastrous night at Royal/T.

We had been eagerly anticipating our reservation date at LudoBites and Royal/T for weeks. When we showed up for our dinner reservation, Krissy (the MaƮtre d') immediately (and candidly) informed our party that one of their kitchen staff had failed to prep properly for that evening's food, and that instead of the usual menu, we would all be having a four-course prix fixe ($39), followed by one dessert.

As expected, a glitch of this nature can set the kitchen far behind, and the place was packed. We were offered a seat at the bar, and waited about 30 minutes for our table. Luckily, our party is good-natured and we were not ravenously hungry, so the wait (lubricated by beverages) was certainly bearable. There was plenty of installation art to peruse, and a retail store at Royal/T that stayed well open into the late night as well. Meantime, Krissy (looking a tad stressed but none the worse for wear) constantly updated us on the status of our wait.

Once our table was ready, we were seated and immediately served water. Krissy herself took our orders. As it turned out, the four courses offered on the set menu were very similar to what I would have wanted to try anyways!

Beverages of note: The ginger lemonade was quite "gingery" - Me likey. The custom Royal/T milk tea was served hot, and balanced in its milk & tea flavorings.

Course #1: Tuna sashimi with sushi rice ice cream, soy sauce yuzu gelee & wasabi. Really a great opener. Love the sushi rice ice cream idea. So creative, and it worked with the dish.

Course #2: Egg meurette, red cabbage/curry , shallots & lardo toast. The eggs went well with the toast and sauce. Another winner.

Course #2 (alternate): My friend had the Celery root soup, mustard, cantal & marshmallow. A rich, yet light soup, full of celery essence.

Course #3: Veal udon, kombu dashi, mushrooms, amp sesame seed miso. The enoki mushrooms rounded out the veal/dashi combo. The white curry (served alongside) added a whole new dimension to the dish. My favorite of the night.

Course #4: Crispy duck confit, with baby corn amp bok choy & black olive mole. Duck confit from a kitchen under intense pressure? Wow, it was indeed outstanding - on par with the Perigord duck confit from our earlier visit to RH at the Andaz.

Cheese plate: Mrs J.L. opted for the Fourme d'Ambert Tourte, red pear, and honey-balsamic with bread. A nice mild blue cheese, with toasted baguette was served. The red pear could have used a bit more soak time, but hey, this was not an ordinary night for them.

Dessert: Warm chocolate soup, banana rum, wasabi sesame seeds. Topped with an impromptu chocolate mousse, this intriguing dessert was delicious because the wasabi element was daring and complemented the overall feel of the dish.

Coffee & latte with dessert were well-brewed, and served with a small chocolate bar.

Result: Four happy, sated diners.

Service from our lovely server Yukina was attentive, unobstrusive, and professional.

Krissy showed us their soft box for food photography after finishing our meal. Shortly after that, Chef Ludo himself, looking a bit flustered from the day's ordeal, but still so full of wit and charm, emerged from the kitchen to warmly greet our party and take photos with us.

It takes real skill, imagination and resource management to snatch culinary victory from the jaws of defeat. Chef Ludo, Krissy, and the LudoBites staff really pulled it together. And to do this, in a (self-described) "guerilla style pop-up" dining format, is extraordinary. Bravo!

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  1. it was a disaster last night. by 8:45 they had run out of half the dishes on the prix fixe menu and were substituting whatever they had left in the kitchen. the wait time in between each course was about 20 minutes! the food was cold on arrival. they tried their best but should have just closed for the night and rescheduled the reservations. I felt bad for Krissy. She looked so overwhelmed.

    1. Great review!

      Glad that they were able to recover from such a disaster. I'm still giddy about the grilled baby corn with the husk on (first time I've seen it that way).

      1. Honestly, the good humor with which you and your party handled their flub shows that you are as classy as they are. I know they are a little challenged working in a very small kitchen in this particular venue. I appreciate you not reading them the riot act. They're good people.

        1. I went there recently and food-wise it's quite good. Nothing I'd drive out of my way for, but good. I had the tuna tartar entree and my friend had an omelette and yogurt.

          Royal-T Cafe
          8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

          4 Replies
          1. re: mstinawu

            Was it before, during, or after Chef Ludo's stint there?

            1. re: J.L.

              I don't know, it was yesterday.

                1. re: mstinawu

                  You missed the Chef Ludo train by a few weeks.