Archive for May, 2009

Spago – Beverly Hills

Spago for lunch, particularly on Friday, is magical. The patio is THE place to sit.


Laurent is one of the best dining room managers anywhere. He always organizes our meal and I have yet to look at a menu.



BYO Chmpagne



Signature dish of Spicy Tuna Tartar in a sesame tuile 


Salmon Blinis - Spago

House-Smoked Salmon served on a Lemon Herb Blini with Dill Crème Fraiche


hamachi - Spago

Hamachi Ceviche with Baby Beets served in a Chinese spoon


bacon en croute

Bacon en Croute – an old favorite


inside bacon

Inside of the bacon en croute



Japanese Cucumber Sorbet with Diced Cucumber and Daikon – a nice palate cleanser before the main part of the meal



Bread Service



Duo of Crab 


crab 1

Panko Crusted Soft Shell Crab with Scallions, Ginger, Marinated Cucumber Salad and Pickle Vinaigrette – the soft shell was perfect – light, not a hint of grease


crab 2

Maryland Crab Cake, Basil Aioli, Tomato Vinaigrette – what was excellent about this crab cake is that it was pure crab – no filler, just crab



Pan-roasted Black Bass on a bed of carrot puree and wild ramps



Then artichokes, tomatoes and a wild ramp vinaigrette and olive oil vinaigrette is added table side to the bass – delicious, light, plus seasonality at its best


the women at Spago

Jackie Collins lunching at Spago


red wine

BYO Red wine



Risotto with Maine Sweet Shrimp,  Santa Barbara Uni and Baby Japanese Zucchini – what is not to like? – uni, shrimp and risotto


duck= Spago

Pan-Roasted Liberty Duck Breast, Onion Soubise, Porcini Mushrooms, Huckleberries, Natural Jus – excellent


starw 1

Friase de bois, Shortcake, Raspberry


straaw 2


A lovely lunch, well-orchestrated by Laurent. I often say that Spago is two restaurants in one. The best way to go is a tasting menu. Let the staff orchestrate the menu and you will have a fine dining experience.


Aquitaine Bis- Chestnut Hill

Aquitaine Bis is a French bistro type restaurant in the suburbs of Boston – Chestnut Hill.  Is it chef driven cuisine – no.  Is it fine dining – no.  Is it on a par with Church and State in Los Angeles – no. But, it is safe, bistro food and for the most part executed well.

Sunday Brunch:

eggs benedict

Eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon, hollandaise & fines herbes, lyonnaise potatoes – I didn’t taste this, but this is my Dad’s favorite and he loved it.



Omelette Alsacienne – with mushrooms, leeks & chevre, lyonnaise potatoes and toast – the eggs were a bit dry, but OK.


As Boston was packed during this time period (graduation time all over the city), we were relegated to where my Dad was a regular. So back to Aquitaine Bis for dinner on Tuesday.

Belgian Endive Salade with apple, roquefort, walnuts & watercress – not pictured

 I will have to let the photos tell the story as I didn’t taste the food from our dining companions.  I am assuming they liked what they had as each dish was completely eaten. I also didn’t take notes as this was a strictly social evening.

fish - aquitaine

Lemon Sole Meunière with pommes purée and diced tomatoes 


another fish - aquitaine

Potato Crusted Atlantic Salmon with butter poached asparagus, mango & papaya chutney and beurre rouge 


scallops - aquitainee

Seared Dayboat Scallops with spring vegetable succotash, sweet corn beurre blanc 


soft shells - aquitaine

Crispy buttermilk soft shell crabs – I am guessing that the saucing was the same as the scallops – a sweet corn beurre blanc. Also I have a vague recollection that the waiter said the soft shells were coated in panko – it did have a tempura quality.

No cheese and no desserts – an adequate meal with good service.

Capital Grille – Boston

Capital Grille is essentially a chain restaurant – they work on a formula, strive to use quality ingredients and basically do straight forward food and work on the theory of not messing it up. This was not a food trip; it was a reconnect with my Dad trip so  food was secondary. 


bread capital

Bread Basket


Caesar - capital

Caesar Salad | $9


oysters- capital

Wellfleet Oysters on the Half Shell (6) | $15


steak -0 capital

*Dry Aged Sirloin Steak 14 oz | $40 – split to share


steak 1 - capital

Close-up of steak


onion rings - capital

Vidalia Onion Rings | $8


This is not fine dining – it is safe dining.

Neptune’s Oyster – Boston

One of my favorite restaurants in Boston is Neptune’s Oyster in the North End. I have a weird way of ordering the fried Ipswich clams with the bellies. I order a half order at a time so the second batch is as hot as the first batch. This time I ordered  1 1/2 orders and got an half order first and then a full order second. Vinny pictured below was terrific and when I gave him the order he asked if I was lizziee from LA. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I certainly have a reputation.

Neptune is a small restaurant with most of the seats at the bar. As they take no reservations, I usually plan my flight from LA to land on the early side so I can have a late lunch at Neptune and not be stuck in a long line waiting to be seated. What a girl will do for fried clams with the bellies!!




oysters at Neptune

The oysters at Neptune are terrific and you check off from the list what you want.


oysters 1




My first order of fried clams were stupendous – lush bellies, juicy, just perfect.



My Dad ordered the Maine Lobster Roll with fries


close-up of lobster

Just see those beautiful chunks of lobster, perfectly cooked.


clams 1

Unfortunately my second order of fried clams had been overcooked – a couple in front were OK, but most were dry and shriveled. To Vinny’s credit, it was taken off the bill.

Now, I did a sort of no no and decided to take a photo of what our neighbors were eating as most of my photos from Neptune are nothing but fried clams. Descriptions are edited versions from the on-line menu.


closde-up of lobster next table

Maine Lobster pan roast, grilled corn, chorizo-spring onion, littlenecks, blueberries


scallops next table

Seared Georges Bank Scallops, Israeli cous cous, English peas, Littlenecks

This is essentially a gastropub version of a clam shack – fun, casual, very busy, great service with a very friendly neighborhood vibe.

LUDO IS BACK!!!!!!!!


ludo 1




A note from Chef Ludo:

 A Taste of LudoBites

Just as a concept reflects its creator, LudoBites is a true reflection of myself.

 I consider myself to be a chef like no other, and I created LudoBites to be a restaurant like no other. 

Only with the generosity of BREADBAR can this special concept come to life in the toughest economy since the great depression.  BREADBAR and Ludo will share the BREADBAR location on 3rd to deliver two completely different dining experiences, BREADBAR for breakfast and lunch and LudoBites for dinner.

LudoBites is a completely new kind of restaurant experience, reflecting today’s world of change and LudoBites revels in change.

You’ll find no maitre d’ at LudoBites, no reservation table, no tablecloths, no separation between the kitchen and the dining room. I want to receive each guest just like they were coming to my home.  I will be the deejay, the cook, the waiter and I may even clean your table. 

 The other members of my team will all provide the same kind of personal service dressed not in a uniform, but comfortably and casually attired, just as we want your experience to be:  comfortable and casual.

In this day and age, when we’re more concerned with the image of the cook than we are with the cooking, I want my T-shirted crew to be considered among the elite–not for the image they project, but for the quality of their cooking.

LudoBites cuisine will be developed using a combination of bistro type ingredients and the gastronomie cooking techniques, rigour and order.

At LudoBites, we call this Bistronomie.

The idea behind LudoBites is to seamlessly blend fine cuisine with a new type of bistro, where the best products available are served up in humble simplicity with some unpredictable flavors and creative mostly French  techniques; a romantic reconstruction of classic French dishes. Joyful, playful, tasteful, creative, personal and the most important the taste because I never forget about the taste, taste and taste.

Serving innovative dishes in a welcoming, lively, yet relaxed atmosphere is the key, along with balancing creativity and affordability.  That’s important to me.  I want to prove that you don’t need a trust fund to afford haute cuisine.  I hope to introduce my food to a whole new audience by offering food that is affordable to the public and in a non-intimidating environment. 

At LudoBites, because the size of the kitchen and small staff, you will create your own menu choosing between three appetizers, three entrées, and two desserts or cheeses.  You may choose to have an appetizer and entrée; or an entrée and dessert; or an appetizer, entrée, and dessert–all at reasonable and fair prices. The decision is yours.

LudoBites menu will be small and constantly changing, just as the seasons change, offering an array of different tastes every week. 

Here is a sample of what you can expect to find at LudoBites today:



–     Squid ink “crepe”, chorizo, egg, ham and cheese

–     Rare tuna sliced, pink beets, red berries, smoked vinegar

–     Lobster gazpacho, parmesan marshmallow, exotic fruits

–     Heirloom tomato salad, cucumber, red onions, feta mousse

–     Mussel Mariniere, verbena



–     Caramelized cod, blood orange, fleur de sel and broccoli

–     “Bird and strings” , fried chicken & homemade pommes fries

–     Braised lamb, black curry, ratatouille, harissa

–     Pork ribs, English peas guacamole “Francaise style”, with wasabi and imaginary choucroute

–     Monkfish, sake-honey soy sauce



–     Rum baba, aloe vera, passion fruits

–     Rose ice cream, rice with milk, cookies

–     Spicy chocolate mousse, orange juice, extra virgin olive

–     Apple gaufrette tart, caramel


My staff and I invite you to join us for a taste of LudoBites today, and experience our special blend of Bistronomie served in a casual and comfortable restaurant that is like no other.  LudoBites is a fun, relaxed environment where you can leave the stresses of the world behind and join our intimate little party for a night. 

LudoBites is for a limited time only at Breadbar.  May 19th-August 22nd.  Who knows where it will be next. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009



-Foie Gras Miso soup with Root Vegetables

-Pot au Feu, Yellow Carrots, Citrus, Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, and  Peanut Vinaigrette

-Rare Tuna, Pink Beet Bath, White Beets, Watermelon, Tapioca Pearls, Smoked Vinegar



 -Asian Fried Chicken, Herbes de Provence, and Basque Vegetables

-Cassoulet of Cod, Fava beans, Garlic, Fresh Herbs

-Braised Lamb with Black Curry, Rosemary Polenta, Harissa



 -Chocolate Mousse, Orange, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-Strawberry Soup, Rhubarb, Hibicus, Marshmallow Ice Cream

-Fromage Du Jour






I don’t know about you, but I will go wherever Ludo goes.

See here for a retrospective of some of Ludo’s creations:

Church and State – Downtown LA

This restaurant is just getting better and better. The sourcing of the ingredients is extraordinary and way above bistro quality.


How many bistros do you know that serve echire butter? From their website: “A famed artisan French butter, from the milk of cows of the small village of Poitiers and La Rochelle. Known as one of the best butters in France, Echire butter is served in the finest dining establishments (which is why the French covet this butter and keep 85% of the production within France). This sophisticated butter won AOC protected status, and is produced mostly by hand. A light texture, light salting and subtle flavor make this butter just about divine.”



Light as air gougeres



Salt cod beignets with saffron aioli. These are addictive and the aioli (not pictured) would make Chef Manzke a fortune.




Iced Kumamoto Oysters – I love Kumamoto oysters and anyone can say what’s the big deal about oysters on the half shell as long as they are fresh. Well, if you shell them badly you end up with grit. These were shelled perfectly!


white wine

BYO White Wine



Sardines, cherry tomatoes, white beans, arugula – an absolutely A+ dish. The white beans were actually a puree with rosemary, sage and olive oil. The dish was a bottom layer of toasted bread, then the white bean puree, then the sardines, the cherry tomatoes and topped with a bit of arugula – OH MY.



Gambas a la Nicoise – Santa Barbara spot prawns with cucumber, tomato, olives and a saucing of olive oil and lemon. We had these the last time we were at Church and State and what I wrote last time still applies: “look at the dice on the vegetables – it could have come out of the French Laundry kitchen.”


red wine at Church

BYO Red Wine



chacu 1

Pate de campagna with green peppercorns, Duck liver with hazelnuts, Jambon persillade, rabbit pate, saucisson sec – wild boar and one with black truffles that cost $30 a pound – bistro – not even close.



Rillettes de Porc – Berkshire pork, prune confiture  – this was even better than last time – absolutely perfect


foie at Church

Terrine de Foie Gras, port wine gelee – delicious



Brioche, Croutons and Pickled vegetables with the foie, rillettes and charcuterie


asparagus at Church

Hog Farm’s Asparagus, Morel Mushrooms, Poached Egg and a glorious mushroom/stock jus – this was one of the best asparagus spears I have ever tasted and Chef Manzke said it was his favorite. Again, this is just not bistro food – The sourcing of this is asapargus is extraordinary. Hog’s farms is the brainchild of Ray Franscioni who also owns Gary’s vineyards.

Ray and Dan Franscioni
PO Box 7537
Spreckels, CA

Markets: Aptos, Monterey and Carmel

Products: Asparagus

History/Philosophy: Hog Farms got its name years ago when owner Ray Franscioni first drove out to see the property where we would eventually plant asparagus. As he tells it, the first thing he saw when he pulled up (besides the beautiful land, of course) was a pen with two HUGE hogs in it. He knew what he would name the farm right then and there. The hogs are no longer at the farm, but their spirit definitely lives on!

The farm was established over 30 years ago. Ray and Dan are second generation farmers and third generation when it comes to sales and marketing of the produce grown at the farm. In addition to asparagus, Hog Farms grows artichokes, spinach and mixed baby greens.

 Gary Franscioni
Gary’s roots in the Santa Lucia Highlands are quite deep. His family has farmed here for over 100 years. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in agribusiness, Franscioni took over management of the family farm business, which owned and managed more than 200 acres of row crops in the Salinas Valley. Recognizing the region’s potential for premium wine grapes, Franscioni turned his focus to viticulture. He and long time friend Gary Pisoni partnered on the Garys’ Vineyard in 1997. In 1996 Gary planted the 50-acre Rosella’s Vineyard – named for his wife – on their estate property just a few miles north of the Garys’ Vineyard. Both vineyards are among the most celebrated and coveted in California. 



Turbot, English peas, Apple smoked bacon, Meyer lemon, Shimeji mushrooms – the turbot was cooked perfectly, but the “veggie” accompaniments were extraordinary.

turbot up close

Turbot – up close



Cassoulet de Toulouse – duck confit, pork belly, pork shoulder sausage, white beans – I was getting very full – this is not food for the faint of heart. I ate a bit of this, but then asked for a doggie bag and this was my Mother’s Day dinner – who needs France when you have Chef Manzke in the kitchen.

This is a wonderful restaurant and I only wish it was closer to the westside.

Update on Renny

Yes, he is cute.



He has learned to be be like his “brothers” and get treats before yoga.



However, he has seriously limited our eating out unless I get a sitter. His new trick is to move our temporary fence around the pool. He will gnaw on the fence and then push the bricks out of the way. Sometimes he just sits there and you can almost see him thinking of ways to outwit me. I think I have solved the problem (very heavy railroad ties) but I am not willing to leave him alone until I am sure.




Introduced Renny to the pool – a little swim and he seems to being staying away from the pool, at least for the moment

renny in pool