12200 West Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-1038
What better way to ring in the new year than with a new LudoBites. This time around Ludo has pulled out all the stops with a luxurious seafood heavy menu. As always demand for tables is fierce and though the new lottery system was relatively painless, seats were no easier to procure. For those math geeks out there, Krissy got just under 10,000 requests and with ~500 tables, chances of actually winning a table were still pretty poor. Fortunately the restaurant also has 6 walk-in spots available at the bar. Naturally having missed out on the lottery, I made a point to show up at 4:00 to ensure my spot when the restaurant opened at 6:00. Waiting proved unnecessary as the bar didn't actually fill up until after 7:00.
NV Cambremer Cidre, Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil, Pays d'Auge, France
We kicked things off with a French apple cider. Think adult Martinelli's the light alcohol and sweetness make for an easy drinking libation while the musty funk gives the drink some maturity.
Chicken Tandoori Cracklings
I was expecting a bowl of fried chicken skin chips but the cracklings are only one element of this dish and not even the most important. The sapid crispy skin is topped with a quinelle of chicken liver mousse adding a bitter iron-y twang to the concentrated essence fried chicken from the skin.
Crab Meat, Shrimp, Avocado Guacamole, Pomelos
Though Ludo doesn't specifically call it out, the crab meat, is actually the vaunted "Hairy" crab from Japan. The flavor of the meat is more concentrated and nuanced than the norm, with both sweetness and brine in abundance. The accompaniments included a creamy banana-tinged guacamole as well as a bitter pomelo paste for contrast. The shrimp consommec provided a brothy lushness that added a powerful savory sensation to the dish.
Scallop, Leek, Potato, Black Truffle
Our waiter dubbed this Ludo's take on vichyssoise. Simply put this was the best tasting dish of the night. The salty sapor of the fried potato and the gentle creaminess of the leek captured the essence of vichyssoise beautifully. The scallop and truffle were pure luxurious indulgence and though I couldn't really taste the truffle, the scallop was absolutely perfect.
Uni Creme Brulee
Another one of the night's best dishes this combines the eggy oceanic sainity of the uni augmented by a generous spoonful of the ikura. The sugary crunch of the crust was key here, providing bot textural and flavor contrast to the seafood.
2010 Savary Vielles Vignes Chablis, Chardonnay, Burgundy, France
Hailing from the same region on France as Ludo, this wine exudes distinct hints of green apple backed by a lush acidity that lingers on the palate.
Raw Beef, Radish, Beets, Eel
Ludo's previous raw beef dishes were the star of their respective meals so I came to this one with high hopes and Ludo didn't let me down. The beef itself is more of a textural element than anything else. The smoked eel actually provides most of the flavor while the tangy horseradish mayo adds a pleasing creamy consistency. I was a bit apprehensive about the beets, and the inky purple smear was indeed potent, though its lingering vegetal finish was a nice change from the jammy attack.
Foie Gras, Tamarin, Turnip, Daikon
This was arguably my favorite dish of the night. The foie "soup" was an unexpected plus with the chunks of fatty liver absorbing the rich heady broth. The turnip and daikon provide a contrasting bitterness while the broth combines a light savory tang from the tamarin with a floral depth from the basil.
Seared Black Seabass, Fennel, Lettuce, Bernaise Vinaigrette
Though labeled as a seared, the meat is so tender that it could be mistaken for a sous vided fish. The fish comes topped with a zesty piquant sauce that was heightened by the tang of the Bearnaise Vinaigrette. The lightly bitter essence of the romaine and subdued licorice essence of the fennel were key in balancing the aggressiveness of the fish.
Monkfish Liver, Cucumber, Cornichon, Mustard Seed
A favorite of mine at sushi restaurants, this is my first time having Ankimo warm. The liver lacked the expected creaminess, and instead presented with a lean eggy funk. While I enjoyed the vegetable accompaniments, I found the bitterness of the mustard seed a touch overwhelming given the unexpected austerity of the liver.
Jidori Chicken, Parmesan Soubise, Broccoli, Wasabi, Egg
Hearty, soulful, and satisfying this is the quintessence of roast chicken. The breast was utterly moist, easily one of the best that I've ever eaten especially with the overarching savor of the Parmesan.
Duck, Orange, Olive, Carrots
The final savory was a play on the classic Duck à l'Orange. Though the breast stands on its own, the orange does add pleasing succulent freshness. The crunch and subdued flavor of the carrots were quite enjoyable, but the olive paste was almost shudder-inducing in its potency.
From the Tank Red, Grenache/Syrah/Carignan, Rhone, France
Just what you'd expect from a house wine, open and easy drinking with lush fruits tinged with earth and pepper.
Goat Cheese Profiteroles, Pistachio, Crispy Leaves
Our waiter dubbed this course a mix of savory and sweet but for my part all I got was the former. The pastry itself was spot on, but filled with the gamy tang of goat cheese and paired with a plethora of vegetal accompaniments, I was hard pressed to see the dessert part of this dish.
Chocolate Napoleon, Orange Creamsicles
One of Ludo's gifts is his ability to re-imagine classic pairings, in this case orange and chocolate. The orange creamsicle is a thing of beauty: fresh, lively, and expressive, an absolutely vital counter to the unabashedly bitter chocolate.
Lemon Meringue Tart
As always Ludo's deconstructed tarts are a joy. The acidity and concentrated citrus of the lemon adds excitement and energy to the buttery crust crumbs. The cream makes a welcome addition, taking some of the edge off the lemon.
The dishes at Ludobites 8.0 speak for themselves so I'll just close with this: Best. LudoBites. EVER!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
12200 West Olympic Blvd