REVIEW w/ pics: Ludo Bites 7.0 Made Me a Believer Again
For those of you who may have read my post entitled "My Food Journey from Ludo Bites 3.0 to 5.0" (http://bit.ly/9MIMcr), you know that Ludo Bites 5.0 was a bit disappointing for me. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to dine at Ludo Bites 6.0 so I missed out on a chance to see whether or not a new menu would take me back to a high note. Thankfully, I made my way to Ludo Bites 7.0 and with this menu from Chef Ludo Lefebvre, it made me a believer all over again.
Our meal started with the Bouillabaise Milkshake. Just recently, I had a conversation at another dinner with a fellow diner and he had mentioned that this particular milkshake played with his head. Even though he knew what it was, he took one look at the milkshake when it arrived and automatically thought of a sweet vanilla milkshake. However, with one sip, his (as well as my) taste buds experienced something that was cold, lush, rich, creamy, but with definite seafood flavors.
There was a disconnect between what your mind was seeing and what your mouth was tasting, but I thought it was playful and interesting. If nothing else, it was one of the most talked about dishes at our table where whether you liked it or not, people thought it was a really creative dish.
From the cold oceans of the sea, we went island way via the Jamaican Fried Chicken Wings. While the chicken skin could have been crispier, I enjoyed the tangy sweetness of the marinade and thought the chicken meat was tender and juicy.
Next was the Onion Tart with Battarga. It was more of a flatbread than a tart, but I enjoyed the light crispiness of the crust. The bottarga's saltiness was a perfect foil for the sweetness of the caramelized onions, but I wish that there had been more of it.
Following the tart came the Dorade Ceviche with Cucumber Water and Parslane. This was a dish that was refreshingly tart, bright and herby plus the dorade itself was tender and succulent. While waiting for our next dish, I ordered the Lavender Ginger Lemonade. It was interesting in that the drink was tart, floral and spicy and somehow it all worked together.
Our next dish was the Salt Cod Panna Cotta, Whipped Fingerling Potato, Smoked Tapioca and Toasted Olive Bread Croutons. When I took a spoonful of the panna cotta just by itself, while creamy, I thought it was too salty. It was more enjoyable when eaten with a crunchy olive bread crouton and the smoked tapioca.
Soon, the Raw Beef "Flambe" with Japanese Whiskey, Rainbow Carrots, Veal Jus Gel, Parsley Panko Crumbs, Mustard and Shallots arrived. This dish was definitely one of the highlights of the meal. I loved how the mustard added a strong, spicy pungency to the meat. The parsley panko also added a nice touch of grassiness which went well with the richness of the meat.
My absolute favorite dish of Ludo Bites 7.0 was the Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar and Champagne Beurre Blanc. Now this my kind of surf and turf. The egg and sea urchin were so creamy and tasted of land and sea and the caviar was the cherry that topped the sundae. If I wasn't sharing this with two other people, I could have easily eaten this all by myself.
The dish that had some Indian influence was the Plancha Tandoori Octopus with Yogurt, Cauliflower and Grapefruit. The octopus was very tender and the grapefruit added a nice acidity. Overall, it tasted good; however, if I wasn't told that this was a tandoori dish, I wouldn't have identified it as such. There was something missing, but I'm not exactly sure what.
One ingredient that always makes it way to a Ludo Bites dish is foie gras and that night, foie gras was the star in the Foie Gras "French Dim Sum" with Crispy Kimchi and Sake-Black Truffle Cream. The kimchi and the sake-black truffle did a good job cutting into the sweetness of the foie gras, which made this a very nicely balanced dish.
When it comes to duck, I always look for crispy skin, which wasn't to be for the Duck, Cherry, Spicy Saucisse, Beets and Radish dish. Having said that, the tartness of the beet-cherry sauce partnered well with the duck, but what really drew me was the spicy duck sausage. I would have loved to have one or two more on the plate. What I also enjoyed was the fact that the beets weren't completely cooked through, so they had a crunch to them and their sweetness was a nice counterpoint to the radish which can have more of a "bite" to it.
Our last savory dish of the night was the Poached Ribeye, Horseradish Cream and Green Beans. I'm never one to turn down a Rib Eye, but one thing I definitely learned is that I prefer it grilled, bone-in and not poached. I found the poached ribeye to be both tender and chewy at the same time, which was odd. While normally, a fan of horseradish, I found the cream to be a little salty. In general, this dish felt too "soft" to me. It needed some kind of crunch component, which the green beans didn't really supply.
Finally, it was time for dessert and we went for the Lavendar Tropezienne Tart with Lychee. Unfortunately, this wasn't a hit at our table. The tart itself was a little too dry and the lavender so overpowered the lychee that you couldn't even taste the lychee. All the lychee did was add texture, but no real flavor.
Overall, except for really just a couple of dishes, I really enjoyed my dining experience with Ludo Bites 7.0 and after this meal, I'm again very much excited for Ludo Bites 8.0 whenever that comes back.
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