LudoBites 4.0 at Gram & Papas

Okay, well I wanted to write this while it was still relevant. I went on 4.27. Today is 5.18. LudoBites 4.0 ends on the 28th. (God sometimes I’m so lame…) And so far it has been a smashing success. I was lucky enough to get reservations this time, instead of having to crash the party, and so I invited my 3 of my best girlfriends to have a night out of good food. Vanessa, who is a crudo chef at Culina; my friend Elise who works for Surfas; and my friend Lorie, who just likes to eat. Also known as Elise, my hetero life partner; Lorie, my ninja chicken; and Vanessa, who everyone thinks is my girlfriend. Yup.
LudoBites 4.0 at Gram & Papas

Vanessa and Me:

Lorie and Elise:

I’m pretty sure we tried almost everything on the menu for the night we were there.

The Burgundy Escargots with Garlic Flan, Green Jus, and Violet Flowers was nice. Lorie had never eaten escargot before so now she can say she has! I don’t think she was disappointed either. :)

The Brie Chantilly Napoleon with Honey Comb, Frisee Salad and Balsamic was amazing. I think Elise described it as “little angel pillows” in her mouth.

Snapper Ceviche, with Heirloom Tomatoes, Jalapeños, Red Onions, Meyer Lemon Paste, and Olive Oil – I thought the heirloom tomatoes were a nice touch. I liked that that the flavor was not too heavy, that the fish came through. Some places over marinate their ceviche, but this was nice and light.

White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Mousse, Fennel, Candied Olive, Salmon Roe – although, Vanessa thought it was more vichyssoise than veloute, but why argue? I think it was mostly the fact that we didn’t taste any fat from the butter that is required for a roux (and um…asparagus stock?) but Ludo, I don’t care…it was delicious. And I don’t know if I’ve told you guys just exactly how much I LOVE ikura. I mean, throw some ikura on an old shoe, and I’m sold.

Marinated King Salmon, German ButterBall Potato, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Creme Fraiche Um I can’t think of anything to say here. Not the most memorable dish, I guess?

After hearing such raves about the Black Foie Gras Croque Monsieur (here with Lemon Turnip Chutney) there was no way I could NOT try it. And it did not disappoint. I love foie, so…

Apparently we were lucky enough to get the very last order of the Roasted-Poached Cod with Vanilla, Chiogga Beets, Balsamic Aioli and Mustard Leaves for the evening. Lovely presentation, and I love when your food looks as good as it tastes….or perhaps the other way around. I dunno, it’s 2:30 in the am. I remember thinking the mustard greens were REALLY tasty.

The Squid “Carbonara” with Pancetta, Poached Egg, Parmesan Snow, and Chive Flowers was a winner as far as what to order with myself and Vanessa because she loves runny egg yolk, and I love anything with pancetta…”You had me at pancetta”

Steak “au Poivre” with Shallots, Polenta Bone Marrow, Roasted Eggplant Puree – not going to lie, this was the least interesting of the main dishes. However the polenta bone marrow was an interesting touch.

Rack of Lamb with Fresh Goat Cheese, Smoked Eel, Artichokes, Potatoe Mousseline, and mint Let me say the lamb was so delicious, us fatasses ordered it twice. Yeah. THAT good. Good enough to face the embarassment of our server looking at us like we were CRAZY for ordering this dish again when she was ready to offer us dessert. And I’m not going to lie the potatoes were absolutely amazing as well. I think the gals were licking the bowl the potatoes came in. The only thing I thought was weird was the that eel seemed like an afterthought to the dish. I’m not sure I “got” it, but perhaps that is why I am not a chef.

Macaroons, Organic Strawberry, and Chantilly – I wish that there had been a bit more chantilly or more macaroon to balance the strawberries…they were a little sour. A nice fresh dish though.

Dark Chocolate Soufflé with Black Pepper Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Cream: This was a work of art. First, it was a perfect soufflé. The black pepper ice cream was bold; the perfect accompaniment for the soufflé. This didn’t last long at all.

And of course LudoBItes is BYOB, and we decided to go all out. What we were drinking.

In case anyone was curious, I thought the Saddle Rock syrah was nice, and the House Wine was nauseating.

Now my opinions on the dishes individually is irrelevant since food is such a subjective matter, but if you’re curious about my thought on the eating experience as a whole: The dishes are delicious when you eat all components together. There were very few dishes where I felt like each component was good enough to stand on it’s own. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good either. I think Ludo puts a lot of thought into the flavor profile of his dishes and I think that is wonderful. But for example, unless you took a bite of the carbonara WITH the pancetta, it just felt like the bite was lacking. Or the strawberries without the macaroon and chantilly, just wasn’t that great. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

And now for what I DIDN’T like. Ludo, listen up. While you are the amazing, talented, brilliant chef of utter French hotness, with the amazing, intelligent, hottie wife, I have a question:

Why is no one in your kitchen wearing something to cover their head?! I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me when Josie “sous-chefed” for you the last time I made it to a LudoBites, and she walked out with her naked hair. Where are the hair nets, or hats, or head scarves?! Not only is it unsanitary, like when I saw the little asian girl brush her bangs out of her face and then handle food without washing her hands, but isn’t that a health code violation?! Ludo!!! You are not only a well known chef, but you are good at your job. WHY would you overlook something like this??? I know that the hair nets and head scarves and hats are not always the sexiest. Believe me – I am the queen of knowing what is not sexy. I don’t think I can make myself any less sexy while working on the Border Grill Truck, but Vanessa and I both found this very off putting. [/end rant]

Other than that, I had a wonderful time. The food was amazing, innovative, and delicious. The service was great. As usual Ludo and Krissy were so wonderful, and to top it off, I nearly fell out of my chair when the one and only Jonathan Gold walked in. As you may already know, I have something of a professional “crush” on Mr Gold, and for me, seeing him is like a pre-teen girl spotting one of the Jonas Brothers. What ensued was much sneaky picture taking on Lorie’s part (mostly because I didn’t have the balls to do it myself) and not a single “good” picture of the man.

Oh and to top it all off? LFC truck parking in the hole that is my commissary… :)

Good times and Good Food. Thanks Ludo!

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