Ludobites & Royal/T In Bed Together
Some people will say ”third time is the charm” when it comes to various things. Sometimes they are right, other times they will be wrong.
In the case of Chef Ludo Lefebvre, his third Ludobites pop-up was indeed quite charming, this time taking over Royal/T Cafe, the cosplay-themed tea house and art gallery, in Culver City. Tagging along with Linden from Gastronomnom, Felicia from Food For Fel, Mike from Right Way to Eat, along with several others (eight of us in all), we were fortunate enough to be able to secure a reservation last night. We unfortunately were not able to get a reservation for opening night, but the 2nd night is not bad at all.
Our table awaits...
Ludo’s wife, Krissy, was the perfect hostess/floor manager, having gone to hell and back running all over having organized the entire reservation system as well as running the front of the house. She is a total sweetheart and seeing the two of them together can, in my personal opinion, be described as a romantic comedy.
There was much anticipation among our group and Chef Ludo did not fail to deliver. The menu featured all different dishes than from last time, and overall seemed to have some Asian influences.
Between the 8 of us, we decided to get 2 of everything and share among both sides of the table, with the only exception being that we ordered 4. We started off with the caramelized peanuts. I unfortunately did not take a picture of this. There was definitely some ginger in there. A rather simplistic start, but good nonetheless.
Next came the scallops with brown butter, brunoise of pineapple, and black powder. The scallops were fantastic and very fresh and the entire dish was well-balanced.
Scallops with Brown Butter, Pineapples, and Black Powder
Next we had the bread soup, with a poached egg and gruyere marshmallow. The marshmallow was lost in the rest of the dish, but the egg was perfectly poached and the bread soup was just absolutely phenomenal. We all had picked out a porky, smokey quality to the soup, which we later found out when Ludo came out to chat that he added bacon and onions to the soup. Yes, I just said bacon.
Bread Soup with Poached Egg and Gruyere Marshmallow
The next dish that came out was the confit of pork belly, with pickles, mustard, vadouvan apples and frisee. The pork belly was awesome, but when is pork belly NOT awesome? Well, let me back up just a little here. While this pork belly was really good, I actually want to say I preferred the pork belly at his last Ludobites a little more. That is just me though.
Confit Pork Belly with Vadouvan Apples and Frisee
The next dish was Monterey Squid with a Chorizo oil, kimchee puree, and what I later found out to be eggplant ”paper”. The squid was cooked perfectly and the eggplant paper was interesting, but a good interesting, of course.
Monterey Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, Eggplant Paper
What was perhaps the piece de resistance (sp?) was the foie gras beignet. Yes, foie gras in a beignet. Do you think we would let Ludo go without putting a foie gras dish on the menu? I think not. The foie was succulent and tender and slightly salty, playing a perfect match to the subtly sweet beignet exteior. The Yellow Celery Root Remoulade looked reminiscent of mac n cheese, but was just wonderful.
Foie Gras beignet with Yellow Celery Root Remoulade
Without any signs of slowing down, we moved onto the Udon. Veal Udon with a kombu dashi, mushrooms, and sesame seed miso. This dish was really good, the udon was perfect and the flavor reminded me a lot of Chinese beef noodle soup, but better.
Veal Udon, kombu dashi, mushrooms, and Sesame seed miso
Next: the Wild striped bass with garden baby vegetables and a Yuzu Aioli. The fish was perfectly cooked and the yuzu aioli was a PERFECT accompaniment to the fish. The baby brussel sprouts were a good balance to the dish.
Wild Striped Bass with Garden Vegetables and Yuzu Aioli
Finally, for a little bit more hearty protein, we had the hangar steak with crunchy escargot, baby corn, bok choy and a black olive mole. The steak was perfectly cooked, the escargot was nice, though not entirely needed, and the baby corn was good. However, the black olive mole was just superb, a perfect pairing with the steak. Great seasoning and flavor all around. Not bad considering Ludo just learned how to make mole sauce 2 weeks ago. Yes, we all want to thank Javier and his mom for teaching our beloved Ludo the intricacies of mole sauce.
Hangar Steak with crunchy escargot, baby corn, bok choy, and black olive mole
Moving onto dessert, for the ”cheese” course, there was the Fourme d’Ambert Tourte, with red pear and honey balsamic. The tort was AWESOME. We asked for the recipe but he more or less just described to us how to make it, using puff pastry, a thick bechamel and the bleu cheese. I normally do not like bleu cheese, and I actually thought he had used a goats milk cheese, but he said the cheese he used was much milder than your average bleu cheese. I could’ve had about 4 more of those slices.
Fourme d'Ambert Tourte, Red Pear and honey balsamic
The 2 dessert courses were good, but Ludo not being a pastry chef, I knew they were not going to be knock your socks off good. With that said, he still did a great job, probably still better than I would have done, and I actually am a pastry chef. No, but seriously, they were great. The first was a chocolate ”cake” with coconut sorbet soup and rum banana. The ”cake”, I learned from Krissy, was actually a chocolate fudge, but the coconut sorbet and rum banana were just really good.
Chocolate cake, coconut sorbet soup, rum banana
Last but not least was the Pistachio rice milk with lemon pound cake and coffee chantilly. I personally love pistachio, but I will be honest and say the texture was interesting. I personally had no problem with it, but I could see how the texture could put off some people. But the pound cake was good and the coffee chantilly was nice and light. I do not have a photograph of this dish, which amazes me because I could have sworn I got a picture of every dish.
Our server, Kat, was great, though questionably genuinely bubbly. Even Krissy was wondering if thats how she always is. But she was very attentive and just very polite and sweet. In case you’re wondering, she is the one that looks like Sarah Silverman.
All in all, a wonderful meal provided by an awesome chef. Once you get past his heavy French accent, he is just genuinely a down to earth guy who only wants to cook. I know, because that is what he kept telling Sarah from The Delicious Life and Taste Spotting that after her multiple attempts of trying to convince him to do a TV show while we were chatting over some wine. There were others at the table as well.
Be sure to follow Chef Ludo on twitter @ChefLudo and his wife, Krissy (@FrenchChefWife) for stay up to date with Ludobites and hopefully soon, news about their upcoming brick and mortar version of Ludobites.