I am a huge fan of Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and know that Ludo considers him his number one role model. But a Gagnaire meal can be a roller coaster ride and the same can be said of LudoBites. There is a huge caveat in this statement, however. Gagnaire in Paris is a Michelin 3 star restaurant with a huge BOH staff of line cooks, sous, you name it. LudoBites is basically a one man operation – Ludo, Ludo and Ludo. How he does it is beyond me? It is not his restaurant – he is forced to survive in the Breadbar set up. Krissy is incredible and I can’t imagine LudoBites without her, but the constraints are extraordinary. I can’t wait until he has his own restaurant, a full staff and then can take some time off to surf.
Naria – our excellent server
Incredible lavender-honey butter with bread
BYO Gosset Champagne
Chorizo, Cantaloupe, Cornichon – this was off the charts perfect – chunks of cantaloupe, onion ice, an intense flavor of chorizo – the layering of flavors in this dish was amazing – seemingly simple, but intensely complex
We loved it!
BYO White wine
Marinated Heirloom Tomato, Red Onions, Feta Mousse, Olives – I wanted to try this as I am working on making heirloom tomatoes with watermelon and feta. Well, I guess I will have to leave the mousse to Ludo as I don’t have a Pacojet. In terms of the dish, think summer on a plate.
Hawaiian Tuna, White Chocolate, Thai Jalapenos, Wasabi – I remembered how well white chocolate paired with caviar at Fat Duck so I wasn’t put off by the white chocolate at all and Ludo was right on – a perfect match. My one complaint is that I wish the tuna was thinner as you absolutely had to eat it in one bite to get the full effect. I just hope other diners weren’t tempted to use a fork or cut it in half – this had to be one bite finger food.
One of the best dishes I have ever had in my life was at Bastide with Ludo — his Maine Lobster, “Ramoneur” with Vadouvan Spice. I had visions of this dish when I ordered the Lobster Tourte Vadouvan Butter. In retrospect, this was very unfair to Ludo. The lobster tourte was good, but nothing could compare to the lobster dish that was prepared tableside by Ludo and Gregory at Bastide.
Lobster Tourte – Vadouvan Butter at LudoBites – I wasn’t getting detailed descriptions of each dish so I can’t explain how this was made. But the lobster texture reminded more of flaked lobster than lobster chunks. I must admit that I am a lobster purist – my Bostonian roots rearing its head.
But just look at this dish at Bastide – absolute perfection A++++++
Maine Lobster, “Ramoneur” Vadouvan Spice, Udon with Orange and Sake.
A large copper pan is presented with the whole Maine Lobster “swimming” in a rich lobster stock. Gregory then “carves” the lobster and adds it back to the pan juices. Meanwhile Ludo is “preparing” the other components of the dish, which included udon, enoki mushrooms, the orange and sake base plus the vadouvan – his Indian spice mix, which includes curry leaves, fenugreek, mustard seeds and garlic. The lobster slices are placed on top, covered with a cloche and then presented to the diner.
As I said above, this is an unfair comparison, but ……
The lobster Tourte was a very rich dish and I thought a transitional summer dish would be a good idea.
Green Beans Salad, Peach, Coconut, Apple, Horseradish and lemongrass – excellent as a palate cleanser – light and refreshing
I wrote in my notebook HOME RUN!!!!!!!!! Spaghetti Carbonara, Santa Barbara Prawns, Sage – Minutes ago live prawns, cooked perfectly, a runny yolk, fatty delicious bacon and then Ludo’s surprise – not pasta but celery root cut like pasta – absolutely perfect.
Close-up of the Carbonara
BYO Red Wine
Foie Gras, Black Croque Monsieur with Ham Cherry Amaretto – only Ludo would even conceive of this dish – The foie with the cherry amaretto was stupendous. I did end up deconstructing the dish by taking off the top layer of bread so I had less bread and more foie to dip in the amaretto.
I love boudin noir and knew that Ludo had been lamenting the fact the no one was ordering it. The best boudin noir I have ever had was from Christian Parra at his Auberge de la Galupe in Urt – the only other equal was when Parra teamed with Ducasse to open Auberge iParla in Bidarray when we had boudin noir de Christian Parra.
In the States, my second favorite version of boudin noir is from Bouchon in Yountville:
Boudin Noir with poached apples, potato puree and brown butter
Now for Ludo’s version. It was not a mousse, it was not a classical sausage type boudin – i am not sure what it was. As this was our last savory course, I was expecting a hearty version. Another table had ordered this as one of their appetizers and loved it. I can only surmise that it was an ordering error on my part leaving it to the end of the meal or an expectation of something completely different than what was expected.
Boudin Noir Apple Potato Puree – I honestly didn’t understand this dish
Chocolate Cup Cake, Foie Gras Chantilly, Candied bacon, Almonds, Maple – John inhaled this and so did I. Sensational!!!
Peach, Curry, Mascarpone, Verbena
There is no doubt in my mind that Ludo is one of the most creative and talented chefs anywhere. He found his “voice” at Bastide, but unfortunately our restaurant critic did not recognize true genius when it “hit her in the face.” I was spoiled at Bastide and so my expectations should not and can not be the same as at LudoBites. A little thing like food costs and labor expenditures must be factored in. But is Ludo a genius? – Yes – the chorizo soup, the spaghetti carbonara and the foie cupcake were absolute hits. I hope that his talents can only grow and prosper at his new restaurant. I will be there and just maybe Ludo will make the Maine Lobster, “Ramoneur” Vadouvan Spice, Udon with Orange and Sake one more time.