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Apr 12, 2010 06:18 PM

Anyone been to LudoBites at Gram & Papa's so far?

Hi Gang,

I have reservations for an upcoming date, but no recon on this board thus far...

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance!


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  1. Yes, J.L. I went this weekend and loved it. We had a lot of dishes. Was everything great? No. But most dishes were delicious and highly memorable. Spotted J. Gold chowin'. There were lot's of bloggers blogging so I expect you will get more specifics from them.
    Highly recommended, indeed.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Ciao Bob

      Thanks for the prelim. report back! Any especially memorable dishes?

      1. re: J.L.

        I really loved these dishes:
        Raw Scallop, Almond Puree, Pickled Grapes, Capers, Cauliflower Ice Cream $14
        Burgundy Escargots, Garlic Flan, Green Jus, Yellow Flowers $14
        Egg, Potato Mousseline, Lobster, Borage Flower $15
        Parmesan Sable, Sweet & Sour Cherry Tomato, Zucchini Ravioli $16

        I didn't care for what I gather is a signature, too rich for me, but others loved it:
        Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur, Lemon-Turnips Chutney $29

        1. re: J.L.

          JL how was your experience? Any recs? I noticed that 2 of the dishes I was most looking forward to have been removed. Both the egg, potato mousseline, and lobster dish along with the the foie croque have been removed from the menu. I felt the foie croque was the most successful dish at Ludobites 1.0. The verision at Breadbar was simply genius.

          I'm hoping Ludobites at Grams turns out better than the one at Royal T. I know you had a good experience but mine was pretty mediocre. The foie beignet was unremarkable and still frozen in the middle and they had run out of a couple of other dishes by the time I arrived for my 830pm seating. Royal T kinda felt like a poorly thought out, in it for the profit only sequel to a hollywood blockbuster. I'm hoping Ludo 3.0 can at least be more like Ocean's 13 than another Ocean's 12.

          1. re: Porthos

            That's funny. I think it would be safe to say that 4.0 is better than 3.0, unanimous among those I know that went to both.

            1. re: streetgourmetla

              I'm counting the truck more as v2.5.

              Glad to hear this version is better than Royal T.

              1. re: Porthos

                Was at Ludo 4.0 on Friday night. It was indeed much better than the Royal T version. The foie croque was not on the menu but was made for us (and several others) on request. I really enjoyed the ham soup and the brie chantilly appetizers.

                The white asparagus veloute was very good except for the candied olives. I understand he was going for sweet (veloute and fennel), salty (salmon roe), and bitter with the candied olives. But for me the candied olives was a distraction from an otherwise balanced dish.

                I was less than impressed with the steak. The sauce ended up tasting like BBQ sauce which may or may not have been the intention.

                Chocolate souffle with black pepper ice cream was excellent. Mine didn't have any ice crystals as was reported in another post. The black pepper in the ice cream was apparent but not overbearing. Stellar.

        2. Yes, it was an enjoyable meal, and a substantial improvement from 3.0.
          Loved the scallops, Jidori chicken, foie gras croque-monsieur, the carrot salad, and the dark chocolate souffle. The escargots were good, too.

          Although I suspect many of these dishes will be gone by the time you go. Oh well. But, overall this was a worthy endeavour.

          3 Bloggers Blogging, 2 Hounders hounding, and a J Gold with a Frisee

          4 Replies
          1. re: streetgourmetla

            Heehee... My suspicion has always been that JGold is actually a regular on this board.

              1. re: streetgourmetla

                He used to post under his own name--no secret there.

                1. re: mc michael

                  Well, all food writers lurk on chowhound, they'd be wrong not to, bloggers, foodies, television programs.

          2. I went opening night. 4 top, ordered one of every app, steak and chicken entree, one of every dessert. Service was bad. We BYOBed and our server topped off my oxidized L'Etoile with our Riesling that we brought before I could say anything. Timing of courses was awful. We literally got one app, waited 20 minutes, got another, waited another 20 minutes, told our server to just fire at will and it still came out slow. I was watching the kitchen and I didn't see any action going on. Just very slow movements. Plates weren't that beautiful. Croque monsieur was okay, I don't get the hype. I could use a hell of a lot more foie. Dish with cheese and honey was pedestrian, nothing interesting. Carrot salad was interesting and was quite excellent with the Riesling we brought, but on its own it was extremely astringent and not pleasurable to eat. Everyone seemingly enjoys the fact that he's using a high tech gadget called a gastrovac, but having used one myself they're really nothing special. It's a very precise crockpot that happens to have precise vacuum/pressure control. Scallop dish was quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten. The scallop was raw, good quality, and mild, so the accompanying caper puree, which also looked like vomit, completely destroyed the dish. The cauliflower ice cream was icy, no craftsmanship there, and the almond puree didn't do anything to tie together these flavors which could work if they were executed with more balance (i.e. searing the scallop, toning down the caper element) Escargot was decent, needed some punch. Lobster was good but it was literally a scrap knuckle piece hidden by the potato espuma and the egg was overcooked, which I don't understand. If you're going to serve an egg 64 you just keep it in a thermal circulator all night and crack em to order. Very classic flavors too and nothing terribly inventive here.

            The steak was the highlight. Perfectly cooked with a perfect crust, delicious green peppercorn sauce, and crisp white asparagus, which I would prefer cooked more to sweeten it up but homeboy probably wants to get his money's worth on the Gastrovac, and it did provide a nice textural contrast. Chicken was good.

            Desserts bombed, the chocolate souffle was undercooked and that raspberry religieuse is a travesty, is it supposed to be pate a choux? What's with the horrible piping design? We asked for coffee with dessert and it never came.

            I know I sound harsh but seriously, this guy helmed L'Orangerie. He hawks his cookbooks at these events with topless pictures of himself. The dude better bring it in the kitchen, and based on my night, he just doesn't.

            7 Replies
            1. re: fooddude37

              Yikes - Hoping the kitchen shapes up by the time I go (soon)...

              I had an inside offer to attend on opening night, but I feared just this sort of thing, so made a later reservation...

              1. re: fooddude37

                Wow.. somehow i love this review. cuts through bullshit without sounding like a hater. AND really, truly.. has a point

                1. re: fooddude37

                  FoodDude37 just sounds like a jackass to me ;) j/k

                  I was actually at that same dinner... in fact, I was actually at that table... in fact, I sat next to him. He's a pro so his attention to detail and standards are way higher than mine. I had no problem with service but I'm a bit biased because the server is a friend and it was opening night. I agree wholeheartedly that the dessert and scallop dish were ATROCIOUS. Amongst the worst things I've ever eaten, no joke. However, I really, really, really, really enjoyed the potato mouselline, escargot, steak, and foie gras croque-monsieur (though I agree that it was very light on the foie gras, especially for the price.) All in all, I really enjoyed the dinner and those hits made up for the minuses for me.

                  1. re: fooddude37

                    The thing you guys have to realize is that the first week of LudoBites is always going to be rough while they get their timing set up. They train with the staff for a couple of days before they start and that's it. If you want perfect service and execution that's exactly the same every time, you're going to the wrong restaurant. It would be a lot more expensive if they had to spend the time training everybody for a week or two before they opened. And in general, everything is a lot more free-form at LudoBites.

                    As for my experience, I really enjoyed the food. Some dishes I liked more than others, but some favorites were the steak au poivre, the ham soup and the squid carbonara.

                    1. re: noahbites

                      I hated the squid carbonara. It was tough, it tasted principally of Parmigiano and the pancetta was quite cold in the centre (according to Ludo, it's supposed to be). It was the only real failure of a dish, though.

                      The blood sausage mousse was insane.

                    2. re: fooddude37

                      That is unfortunate although an opening night anywhere is usually less than ideal. I have been to LudoBites a couple times when it was at Breadbar and really enjoyed his inventive cuisine with French touches. Very creative and fun experience. I hope to go to LudoBites at Gram & Papa's but will wait a bit for things to settle in

                    3. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Website pretends the entire event running from 4/8 thru 5/28 is fully booked. And this,long before the 4/8 start date.

                        Commoners allowed to submit a (humble) request for admission to their waiting list.

                        Actually, I'm surprised their waiting list is not closed, in which case they should kindly abase themselves to opening a wait list to get on the wait list.

                        Sorry, this is way too aristocratic for a shlepper like yours truly.


                        14 Replies
                        1. re: RicRios

                          Actually, I tried to get on the wait-list and wasn't able to even do that (at least for 15 or so dates I tried)! It's a fun concept but way too high-maintenance.

                          1. re: aching

                            "It's a fun concept "

                            Methinks: as fun as shooting themselves in the foot.

                            1. re: RicRios

                              Gentleman, it's a pop-up! It'a not a standing restaurant. If you want to play you musn't fuss so much, have a little fun, or go to an established restaurant because maybe this isn't your thing.

                              Pop-ups have reservation lists that fill up fast because the chefs are popular enough to do such an event. It's kind of like inviting a chef to cook in a strange kitchen, sourcing is not easy due to the limited run, but there is a more personal experience that you can have.

                              And noahbites said it best, there were excellent dishes, some better than others. WHen you order the whole menu as are table did, the object is to figure out the dishes you like, and just have some fun. Some you will like, love, be indifferent, or loathe. That's going to happen at every single pop-up you attend. The chefs are trying out recipes on you , in Ludo's case, he would rather take a chance and fail than just be ordinary.

                              "The scallop was raw, good quality, and mild, so the accompanying caper puree, which also looked like vomit, completely destroyed the dish. The cauliflower ice cream was icy"
                              But this kind of commentary really is isn't helpful, and more akin to another forum known for that style of review. "Icy ice cream?"

                              RicRios, I had a blast, our table was covered in wine bottles, and some tequila for after the dinner. Everyone there seemed to be having a great time. This is supposed to be fun. Try a pop-up sometime, loosen up a bit, you might enjoy yourselves.

                              1. re: streetgourmetla

                                My point was only that if their wait-list is full, they should just say so on their website instead of having you try each day on their calendar and get rejected each time! As I said, I do think that a pop-up restaurant is a fun concept, but just like a conventional restaurant, I'm only going to bother with the ones that actually seem to care about me and my time and the quality of my experience. (Also, not a gentleman!) =)

                                1. re: aching

                                  Agree with RicRios and Aching. I've fallen victim to clicking their website everyday in hopes of getting a table. Such a waste of time and effort.

                                2. re: streetgourmetla

                                  "But this kind of commentary really is isn't helpful, and more akin to another forum known for that style of review. "Icy ice cream?"

                                  Street, I haven't been to the restaurant/pop up in question, but just to be fair I don't see the criticism here as being other than rough, yes. But certainly not out of bounds by any stretch of the imagination for Chowhound. Icy can be an apt description of ice cream that, instead of being smooth and creamy, has ice crystals formed in it. Not pleasant to eat when that happens...

                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                    I have a different set of standards. Whether we're talking about a catering event for a wedding, a private party, a taco truck at 3 a.m., my friend's mom's Peruvian cooking, my grandparent's Mediterannean cooking, a cook is a cook is a cook. What you put on that plate represents you. It's mind blowing to me that anyone would put themself in the hands of a chef, or a cook, and know ahead of time that some dishes they'll love, and others they'll loathe, and essentially be treated as a guinea pig, and PAY FOR IT?

                                    Ice cream should never be icy. There are many techniques to overcome this and to willingly serve it shows a lack of attention. We could get in a lengthy discussion about what proper technique is in another thread, about what it means to be a good cook and to present food that is balanced. My criticism stands and has nothing to do with my ability to "loosen up" or enjoy myself.

                                    As for the "opening week jitters", it would be understandable if I saw the kitchen hustling and falling behind. This was not the case. There was no sense of urgency, just everyone moving at a relaxed, too relaxed pace. To spend that much time on the food should ensure the quality of what went on the plate. That means to me that everything we were served was exactly how Ludo intends it to be, and in that case, I'm not interested in his food.

                                    1. re: fooddude37

                                      Congrats on the standards.

                                      There had been 3 prior Ludo Bites and plenty of info out there on the internet before you went to this dinner. So, the fact that he would be playing around with new recipes and that he likes to change things up was well known to me, and you should have known as well. You were the one blindly trusting the chef, I went in eyes open.

                                      There are very few menus out there that are bullet proof, and even my favorite restaurants may have items that either do not interest me, I didn't like, or are weak offerings. So, we order based on recs or previous experience. If it's a new place and we have no info we are all entering blindly, unless you are a true chowhound and can zero in on a find and the potential good menu items. There's no 1,000% batting average there either.

                                      Ludo is going to try new things, change the menu, and at this point is enjoying the freedom of the pop-up.

                                      All kinds of restaurants have tasting menus, omakase, or other types of "chef trusting" that many here enjoy. I've done a fair share of tasting menus and there are always items, even from my favorite chefs, that are not things I would order again. Sometimes nothing offends, sometimes everything is good but a yawn, and sometimes it has been a meal that has transcended, etc.

                                      But, chowhounds that are willing to take one for the team are my kind of people and what make this an interesting place.

                                      Anyways, for Ludo Bites 5.0, consider yourself informed.

                                      1. re: streetgourmetla

                                        So, if I understand this rationale correctly, anyone who goes to a pop-up should inherently expect mediocrity, if not abject failure, in certain dishes? And we're supposed to be accepting of this because we've done our proper homework?

                                        That's not an encouraging endorsement of Ludobites or any other pop-up. Poorly cooked scallops doesn't sound like "experimentation". There's not a fine line between "experimentation" and "poor execution." You can easily achieve the former while avoiding the latter.

                                        1. re: odub

                                          You're not understanding this rationale correctly.

                                          Restaurant you know=dishes you know and like, dishes you ignore

                                          New restaurant=Try the menu over time and find the dishes you like, if the restaurant is worth it.

                                          A pop-up is like a new restaurant that will never go through the process of working out its kinks, revising the menu, improving the dishes. Walter Mantzske isn't going to do the Church and State menu when he pops up at Hatchi bar, he's going to do something different.

                                          Someone who goes to Ludobites and doesn't know he changes the menu and tries new things all the time hasn't done their homework. I was pretty clear on this. You want Church and State, go there, if you it at Mantzke's pop-up, don't go. You don't trust the chef, don't go to their pop-up.

                                          People who only go to concerts for the hits are the same mentality.

                                          I had no poorly cooked scallops, nor did the many friends I know and trust. This is your opinion, but no sense debating subjectivity. I had great 4.0, no abject failures, though. I had items I would order again. But, chances are they've moved on.

                                          The experimentation is with the menu, trying new dishes, different combinations, different textures. He's not experimenting with scallop cooking technique, which is a bit peculiar to insinuate that Ludo is anything other than a polished and accomplished chef.

                                          We always bring a group to order the whole menu to try, and we're OK with that. Practically all of my friends who have gone have done the same, because that's how you do a pop-up.

                              2. re: RicRios

                                yes, every date I tried to even get on the waiting list was overbooked too.
                                Santé, tattooed hipster chef!

                                1. re: dharmathug

                                  According to the Chef's Twitter page, he had 20 no-shows last night because of the rainy weather (and he was REALLY annoyed by that!); it might not hurt to call at the last minute to see if a table is available....

                                  1. re: CEfromLA

                                    Yes, I remember from 3.0 many people snagged ressys day of. Embrace the technology.

                                  2. re: dharmathug

                                    I decided to email the reservations site directly to complain about the non-functioning wait list and was pleased to hear back from wife Krissy that she would put me on the wait list. So let's see what happens