Everyone has an opinion about Ludo and his pop up restaurant Ludobites. Whether it's love, hate, or apathy, it's hard to ignore the guy. He is a marketing machine. Ludo is everywhere: he's on Top Chef Masters, he's frying chicken out of a truck at the LA Street Food Festival, or he's frying chicken with Eric Greenspan and Akasha Richmond. Love him or hate him, he's a constant topic in the LA restaurant scene. With all the hype around Ludo, it's no surprise that his next pop up location, a two month stint at Gram and Papa's in downtown Los Angeles, was fully booked within
72 hours (correction, make that 18 hours, thanks Krissy) of the reservation lines opening up.
Gram and Papas, home of Ludobites 4.0
While I do have a few reservations lined up for Ludobites 4.0, I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest to the FoodDigger TastEvent: Ludobites 4.0 Preview Dinner. The evening was hosted by FoodDigger (aka: I didn't pay a dime), wine pairings were provided by Domaine LA, and the food, obviously provided by Chef Ludo.
Since this was a FoodDigger event, this meant that there would be bloggers. And there were lots of them.
Bloggers mingling and breaking some ice prior to dinner.
The LA Times was in attendance this particular night.
Point and shoot cameras were the camera of choice for this evening. If memory serves me right, I counted 3 dSLRs in the group. It brought a smile to this Canon S90 point and shoot user.
After a few glasses of bubbly, we jumped right into the first course.
What were the three fat textures: lavender lard, clarified butter and whipped brown butter. Diners at Ludobites 2.0 will remember the lavender, although this version doesn't share the same sweetness as 2.0. Needless to say, you'll be asking for more lard, sweet or not.
No, I didn't scoop the fat textures right into my mouth. I had this nice baguette to use.
While getting my fill of lard, I noticed the wineglasses had some engravings on them.
Before I continue with the food, I just have to say Jill of Domaine LA did an AMAZING job pairing wines with the preview dinner. If you are going to Ludobites, I strongly recommend you stop by her store. In fact I suggested that she create a Ludobites wine pairing package so that folks could stop by and pick up all the right wines for this dinner.
Chef Ludo is Iron Man.
The saffron cream really brought this course together.
Chef Ludo is always working hard.
Not much to look at right?
Well, dig a little deeper and you get to the surprise.
This was freaking fantastic. I'm already trying to figure out how to ration this out on Friday. More than likely, we'll each be getting one...yes it's that good.
Jill from Domaine LA always made sure our courses were properly paired.
The foie gras croque-monsieur makes its triumphant return from Ludobites 2.0. Chef Ludo used lemon turnip chutney since cherries are not yet in season.
In addition to his sous chef, Chef Ludo has quite a few interns this go around and it was fun watching them get harassed. The completely open kitchen will make for some interesting moments.
Saying that this dish is rich would be an understatement.
Saying that Gram and Papas is all kitchen would also be an understatement.
There's a whole lot of coqs in the kitchen.
It's a good thing all these coqs in training have mastered the art of synchronized plating.
This salmon, which was cooked to 85 degrees, was amazingly tender. The crispy salmon skin brought this dish home for me.
Tender moist chicken, you'd almost think this was prepared sous-vide, but no, it was poached. And crispy skin?
Yes, crispy skin. I just wanted to emphasize that one more time: CRISPY SKIN. And BACON royale.
The brie was churned for 2 hours. I feel sorry for the poor coq in training that had to do that. Thank you though, it took me 30 seconds to inhale this thing.
I just loved how this dish was plated. And anything that was churned for 2 hours deserves more love than just one shot.
Krissy does it all.
The black pepper mill chocolate ice cream was intense.
After dinner, Chef Ludo spent a few minutes chatting with the group. Ludobites 4.0 is his twist on classic French cooking. As previous Ludobites diners know though, this is bound to change. Even Chef Ludo admitted that he'll likely bore of the classic French cooking concept in a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see how the menu evolves over the next eight weeks. A chef's imagination, especially Chef Ludo, cannot be restrained!
The preview dinner and wine pairing menu.
Ludobites 4.0 at Gram and Papas
227 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
From 4/28/2010 - 5/28/2010
Post Script: There is ABUNDANT free street parking on 9th Street after 6p. My recommendation is to park on 9th or at the intersection of 9th and Los Angeles or 9th and Santee. If you do park on Santee, I recommend parking on the North side (left) of Santee rather than the South. Lots are available, but they are a bit farther away and there's really no need to park that far.
Insider Tip: The yellow loading zone is free and parking ticket free AFTER 6p and there are 2 spaces directly in front of the restaurant and 2 more across the street, so take advantage of those spots!
This dinner was free and sponsored by FoodDigger.