Archive for the 'LudoBites' Category

Ludo Bites 4.0 – Gram and Papa’s

I have been a huge fan of Ludo’s cuisine and was a very frequent diner at Bastide. I was distressed when he left LA to go to Vegas and thrilled when he returned to LA to introduce his newest concept  — the pop-up restaurant – one type of restaurant by day and then Ludo arrives when they close to “open” his restaurant at night. The latest reincarnation at Gram and Papa’s is probably the best – the kitchen is not make-shift and the BOH can actually function in this space. How Ludo manages to produce such exquisite food in a pop-up restaurant is a feat in of  itself. For those of you who have a restaurant or worked in a restaurant when prep often starts at 8 am for the evening meal, you will understand the incredible passion, dedication and just hard work that Ludo, with Krissy at his side,  produce. Amazing is a huge understatement.

Gram and Papa’s Room

The Open Kitchen


BYO Champagne

I had read every blogger’s notes on Ludo Bites 4.0 at Gram and Papa’s.  I spent hours trying to devise a sensible tasting menu. With Krissy’s and Ludo’s editing of my efforts, I must say we were very successful.

I had adored Ludo’s soft shell crab cone at Bastide. There was no question that I had to have this. In retrospect, we could have ordered just one as this was a maxi version of Bastide’s version. All other dishes were one for two.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Cone, Mango, Red Spicy Mayo, Corona Granite – the corona granite was an essential component as this definitely had a spicy kick to it.

Krissy explained that an entire soft shell was used in each cone.

Cone broken open

No photo – Tartine plate “Warm baguette” Honey-Lavender Butter and Smoked Lard  – John indulged – I didn’t – I wanted to save my appetite.

Marinated King Salmon, German ButterBall Potato, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Creme Fraiche – this was in a word a Michelin 3 star dish – absolutely perfect

White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olive, Fennel Shavings, Salmon Eggs, Foie Gras Powder – this was served cold and the foie gras powder was a new addition to the veloute – the pop of the salmon eggs, the crunch of the powder, the slight licorice taste of the fennel and the smooth veloute made for another perfect blend of taste and texture.

BYO White Wine

Seabream Ceviche, Heirloom Tomato, Jalapenos, Meyer Lemon Paste, Cilantro Flower- As with all Ludo dishes no ingredient is on the plate for show – the Meyer lemon paste was a crucial element of this dish.

Santa Barbara Prawn, Frozen Avocado and a Cocktail Sauce made with Ketchup, Tabasco and Cognac – Who needs a knife and fork?  Just pick up the prawns by their tails, dip in the great sauce and Voila.

“Paris’ Ham Soup, Bread, Swiss Cheese, Radish, Cornichon, Guiness – Krissy explained that the inspiration for this dish came from the Ham and Gruyere Sandwich that you can get in every little shop in Paris. I have had  the sandwich in Paris and yes the soup brought back lovely taste memories.

BYO Red Wine

John, the photographer, forgot to take a picture of the next dish which was a true tour de force.

Foie Gras, Green Cabbage, Kimchi Consomme, Pickled Turnips, Sesame Oil – I wish you could have seen this. The foie was wrapped in cabbage and was melt in your mouth perfect. The kimchi was subtle, but gave the perfect balance to the dish. We were very full and knew we had more dishes to come. We ate every bite of the foie.

Squid “Carbonnara”. Pancetta, Poached Egg (63 degrees), Parmesan Snow, Chive Flowers – I was going to skip this dish as I was getting full. Neither Krissy nor Ludo would even contemplate that decision. I am so glad they didn’t listen to me. I didn’t eat as much as I wanted to, but it was superb.

Rack of Lamb (roasted in its own fat), Goat Cheese, Artichoke, Mint – For those bloggers who say the lamb is too rare just let it be my thought that this is how lamb should be served. Again the combination of ingredients in particular the goat cheese and lamb was extraordinary.

Served with the lamb potato mousseline – I have a feeling this was Robuchon’s take on potatoes – a pound of potatoes and a pound of butter

BYO Dessert Wine

We just couldn’t do dessert and used the wine as our “sweet.”

Brie Chantilly, Honey Comb, Frisee Salad, Balsamic – this was our final course and again I didn’t do it justice – delicious yes.

Ludo 4.0 is a restaurant — pop-up maybe, wonderful food absolutely. This is not a place to order one dish for 4 or 6 people. You miss the essence of Ludo’s cuisine where every element is essential on the plate. You can absolutely order one for two as Ludo can and will accommodate that kind of plating.  What a fun evening with serious BOH (Ludo) and dedicated FOH (Krissy).


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.


Ludo himself






Naria – our excellent server

LB Bread

Incredible lavender-honey butter with bread


LB Gosset

BYO Gosset Champagne

LB - Chorizo

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


Chorizo - clean

We loved it!


LB - white

BYO White wine


LB_ Tomato

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.


LB- tuna

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.

LB - Lobster

LB - Lobster 1

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. 


ludo lobster again

Ludo lobster

But just look at this dish at Bastide – absolute perfection A++++++

ludo lobster 6

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


LB spaghettei

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.

spaghetti 1

Close-up of the Carbonara


BYO Red Wine


Ludo foie

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:

Bouchon boudin

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 1

boudin 2

Boudin Noir Apple Potato Puree – I honestly didn’t understand this dish


LB cupcake

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.


Ludo is back!!!!! I can’t begin to express how much I miss our meals at Bastide with Ludo.

This is what I originally wrote:

There is no way that I can do justice to the many, many meals we had at Bastide with Ludo Lefebvre. It was a sorry day when he left Bastide and even more a bigger shame when he left Los Angeles to open a restaurant in Las Vegas. I loved our meals at Bastide. Ludo’s creativity was incredible, but it was not innovative cuisine just for shock value. Instead his food was all about the layering of flavors and textures. I said after one of my meals at Bastide that Ludo’s food was very masculine. It was assertive; there was nothing prissy or overwrought about Ludo’s cuisine.

As a tribute to Ludo, here is just a fraction of some of the dishes we were fortunate to experience at Bastide.

See here:

Well LudoBites is not Bastide, but Ludo is still Ludo and the creativity remains as strong as ever. 


Ludo – still cute



Krissy – his wonderful, hard-working and also adorable wife.



Painting on the far wall



I asked why the Rooster is Ludo’s symbol. In typical French fashion, Ludo repsonded he likes roosters, they are very French and they are a proud bird. Enough said!



BYO Krug Champagne



The bread was delicious, but the house-made butter was wondrous – an incredible combination of butter, honey and lavender. If Ludo wants to make a fortune just sell the butter.



Cherry Gaspacho, Spanish Blue Cheese,Toasted Chopped Hazelnuts, Borage, Castelas Olive Oil – The gaspacho is a true gaspacho soup made with bread, onion, olive oil etc. How to describe this taste? It was fresh, light, summery with an incredible layering of flavors.


Salmon cube

King Red Salmon Cube, Salmon Eggs, Watermelon Cube, Basil Chiffonade, Orange Confites, Smoked Vinegar and Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil – The salmon had been marinated with smoked vinegar, obviously created by Ludo. We were instructed to eat the salmon first and then immediately chase that with the watermelon. In good sushi bar form, I deep-sixed the fork and popped the salmon in my mouth and then immediately the watermelon. Again, this is what Ludo is justly famous for – flavor and textural combinations. What a super four bite dish.


shrimp sweet and sour

Shrimps, Daikon, Sweet and Sour Emulsion, Rosemary, Lemon Zest – The shrimp was the bottom layer, then topped with a thin daikon slice. The sweet sour emulsion was sherry vinegar, honey and grapeseed oil. Again, this was another all in one bite dish. There are just no words to describe how good this was – perfect aptly describes this dish.


egg 65

Poached egg 65 degrees, Bread Toast, Sauce Mornay, Crispy Bacon Bits


egg 65 1

The egg is done in a circulator at 65 degrees for at least 2 hours, but will hold for 6 hours —  65 degrees because the yolk coagulates at 68 degrees and the white at 62.  The egg is a cross between a poached egg and a very soft boiled egg. 


egg 65 2

Another view – again what is not to like – toast, egg, bacon, Mornay sauce


asparagus veloute

Holland White Asparagus Veloute, Parmesan Marshmallow, Shaved Fennel, Lemon Zests – the greatness of this dish was the contrasting textures –  the slippery fennel “noodles”, the light as air parmesan marshmallows, the smooth, luxurious asparagus veloute


veloute 1

Another view of the veloute



Beef Tartar, White Holland Asparagus, Shallots, Peanuts, Anchovy – I was getting very full and next time I go to LudoBites (yes, there will be a next time) we will order one for 2 for each course – There are times when you question why Ludo pairs one ingredient with another – anchovy, beef,  asparagus???? It works. Why? I don’t know and that is why Ludo is THE chef. My only negative on this dish is that I wish there was more of a binder with the tartar – maybe egg yolk, worchestshire???

red at Ludo's

BYO Red Wine


Not pictured – John gets a F for photo taking on this one.  – Miso Soup, Foie Gras, Rhubarb, Hibiscus, Turnips, Beets and on the side of the dish lemon paste. The foie gras had been simmered in the miso soup for 2 minutes and in Ludo’s culinary vocabulary the foie replaces tofu. Again, disparate elements that somehow work both in a culinary sense and a textural sense.


cod at Ludo's

French Cod, Spicy Butter, French Porcini Mushrooms, Fresh Almonds, Tonnato style – I like to think of this dish as Ludo gives a nod to Italy – sort of a culinary French/Italian bonding. The cod was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of “kick.” The tonnato sauce was superb and I wish I had some right at this minute. Wonderful mushrooms and crunchy almonds (not even close to the stuff in the market) and you have a creative, masterful dish.


sweetbreads's at Ludo

Crispy Veal Sweetbread, Foie Gras, Asian Pear, Imaginary Charcroute (actually sauerkraut gelee- upper right corner), Mustard – My notes say A++ Again, the flavor combinations and textural contrasts were remarkable. Ludo could package that gelee and make his second fortune after the butter.

Krissy is a gracious host, Ludo is a remarkable, talented chef and I urge everyone to try LudoBites. What an experience.