LudoBites Review Gram & Papas, Los Angeles

ludo bites

I am new a believer in Ludo Lefebre and his passion.  It’s not like I’m skeptical by nature, but following months of watching him on Top Chef Masters, reading reviews upon reviews of pop up engagements of LudoBites at Breadbar and Royal/T, and his fried chicken truck, I was just amazed at how his rock star popularity and counter culture moxy–bucking the restaurant establishment of a permanent space–could garner so much loyalty and enthusiasm. Only opened for several months, it was named one of the 99 Essential Restaurants in LA among countless other accolades.  So I was finally able to experience (sans Kim..sorry honey!) the latest reincarnation of LudoBites 4.0  for the first time thanks to the generosity of Fooddigger.

ludo bites

His two month stay at Gram & Papas began April 8 and runs through May 28th and during the entire course of this engagement, Holly of Michelin Project, with no formal culinary training is working as one of his sous chefs!  This is the type of excitement and energy he garners from those crossing his path and culinary creations. It’s certainly an affirmation for his love of bloggers which he confessed at the dinner. So say hi to Holly and give her some support.  Wine and champagne pairings were generously provided by domaine547.  While I enjoy wine, I don’t have the experience and training to even try to  pretend to critique them and BS you guys, but I’ll just say that they were all delicious and complimented the food very well.

ludo bites

Now on to the food! Bread service was crispy crusty baguette with “three fat textures” consisting of lavender lard, clarified butter, and whipped brown butter.  It was difficult but I had to stop myself from eating all the baguette and condiments to save myself for the rest of dinner.

ludo bites

The next course was a wonderful carrot salad with saffron anglaise cream, pickled pearl onions, citrus, and mustard powder.  Both the citrus and carrots were vacuum cooked in gastrovac, a type of low temperature pressure cooker that cooks quicker than a traditional pressure cooker, leaving color, nutrients, and texture intact. It was clearly evident in the freshness and crispness of this dish.

ludo bites
Next came the 65 degree egg, potato mousseline, lobster and borage flower. The entire table probably had a collective food orgasm as the silky smooth potato, oozing egg yolk, and delicate lobster was an amazing combination that exudes comfort and decadence all at once. 
ludo bites

Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any better, it did. The foie gras croque monsieur with lemon turnip chutney was out of this world. Toasty squid ink bread sandwiched a warm slice of foie, ham, and cheese contrasted by the tart chutney. At this point in the dinner I realized why Ludo has been called the “mad genius,” elevating a classic dish to such new highs.

Continuing with a spin on the classics was the Burgundy escargot, garlic flan, green jus, and yellow flowers. Deconstructing the classic herbed escargot was a bold idea and I appreciate his creativity, however, there’s an innate reflex in me to want to slurp up the herbs and butter with crispy French bread that I couldn’t do with this dish.  
ludo bites

Next came the Columbian river king salmon confit, spring cabbage, orange skin and juniper berries. The salmon was sauced with an agar agar, another novel touch. The salmon was cooked perfectly medium rare with crispy skin. Taken all together with the tart juniper, the dish worked well.

ludo bites

Poached jidori chicken, crispy skin with hazelnuts, garden vegetables, and bacon pudding was the next course that continued to highlight Ludo’s creativity.  Stuffed and poached in a tube, the chicken was shaped more like a giant diver scallop but tasted every bit as moist and tender as any chicken I’ve ever had. Even if you’re the type to discard chicken skin, Ludo’s version of crispy bits of hazelnut and skin made any guilt of eating skin disappear and taste so delicious.

ludo bites

Cheese isn’t something I know too much about, but this 2 hour whipped brie napoleon with honey comb and balsamic was an eye opening experience.  Holly of Michelin Project actually whipped the brie herself..infusing such an airiness and wonderful texture to the brie. The touch of sweet honeycomb was brilliant.

ludo bites

Finally dessert consisted of a dark chocolate souffle, chocolate cream, and a black pepper milk chocolate ice cream. Just when I thought the suprises were over with this classic souffle, one bite of the black pepper ice cream made my taste buds tingle with the spicy sharpness of the pepper and all at once cooled by the creamy milk chocolate.

ludo lefebvre

Clearly the passion for creative and cutting edge cuisine was evident in all the dishes presented at LudoBites.  But the amazing thing is that as good as some dishes may be, they may never appear on the menu again.  Such is the curious fascination with LudoBites–you never know what new creative stroke of genius will be on the menu next.  Hearing him speak about his desire for creating bold and provocative cuisine and cooking from his heart made me realize how intense his passion burns.  It’s too far fetched, but I couldn’t help it, but to liken the flame in Ludo and the flame in his kitchen at LudoBites to the mythical Pheonix, whose passion ignites, burns intensely, only to be extinguished but always reborn to burn again.

Gram & Papas April 8-May 28th 
227 E. 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015   

Ludo Bites 4.0 at Gram and Papa's in Los Angeles

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24 Responses to “LudoBites Review Gram & Papas, Los Angeles”

  1. 1

    Jessica@Foodmayhem — April 9, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    I have been reading about Ludo everywhere and follow him and his wife on twitter….it's the main reason I want to visit LA again, that and of course I would love to eat with or cook with you an Kim.

  2. 2

    FoodDigger — April 9, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Hong. It was such a pleasure having you attend our latest dinner event. Ludo's passion comes through with every dish. Thank you for coming out and spending your evening with us. Good eating!

  3. 3

    Velva — April 9, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    I am speechless. Just stunning. Thanks for sharing this food adventure with us.

  4. 4

    Ravenous Couple — April 9, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    Jess: This meal would have been worth the price of the airline ticket to LA! πŸ™‚

    Fooddigger: Thank you again so much for allowing me to be a part of a great event!

    Velva: I was really speechless multiple times during the coarse of the meal it was that good.

  5. 5

    R. — April 9, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    I am inspired! I love this style of cooking – the creativity, the twists on classics and the daring combination of flavors & textures! Thanks for such a thorough report. I'm going to have to schedule us a date with Ludo next time we can get up to LA!

  6. 6

    Ravenous Couple — April 9, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    R.: and right now he's playing it safe!! wait until a few weeks!

  7. 7

    triplescoopdesserts — April 9, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

    Man I envy you! That is one awesome dinner!

  8. 8

    Hall-e — April 9, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    Hi Hong, awesome writeup here, and thanks for the shout-out! I'm really glad you enjoyed the dinner. It's cool seeing the finished dishes here on display knowing that I was the one that peeled all the carrots, and that πŸ˜‰ you have wonderful pics btw


  9. 9

    Gastronomer — April 9, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    I can't get over how awesome our meal was! Ludo is a mad genius!! And your photos are gorgeous! You need to copyright the double dish shot. It's a signature motif if there ever was one.

  10. 10

    Justin — April 9, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    this is some amazing looking food. the foie gras croque monsieur in particular is out of this world. i would have never guessed what it was.

  11. 11

    Ravenous Couple — April 9, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    Triplescoops: you gotta get on fooddigger if you want to attend these events πŸ™‚

    Hall-e: Thanks and what you're doing is really awesome..i'm sure you're learning lots! Hope to see you again there.

    Gastronomer: yes, others have the autographed menu, my shtick is the double dish.. πŸ™‚

    Justin: and he's only getting started and playing it safe..wait a few more weeks!

  12. 12

    gastronomnom — April 10, 2010 @ 2:19 am

    Absolutely gorgeous photos! Good to meet you guys and share a meal. What a great night!

  13. 13

    A girl named Elliott — April 10, 2010 @ 2:38 am

    So great to meet you and share a meal with you and our fellow bloggers.

    Great post!


  14. 14

    NomsNotBombs — April 10, 2010 @ 3:55 am

    Of course your pictures of the food looks gorgeous, but I love your action shots of the staff and Ludo! Great post, and it was so lovely to meet you. Hope to meet Kim soon too! πŸ™‚

  15. 15

    NomsNotBombs — April 10, 2010 @ 3:55 am


    typing fail

  16. 16

    bagnatic — April 10, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

    hey hong,
    looooove your pictures. it was a really good night and was relived once again through your photos. was kim super jealous? πŸ™‚

  17. 17

    Tsz — April 10, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

    Thanks for the spontaneous photography lesson on Weds! I fully expect Biana and I to have a lucrative career in hand modeling πŸ˜€

  18. 18

    alice — April 10, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    thanks for sharing! we're going tonight and these pics are making my mouth water.

  19. 19

    Pepsi Monster — April 12, 2010 @ 6:01 am

    Oh my gosh! I know the sous chef who peeled the carrot! LOL

    Great post! Now I'm excited to come to Gram Papas this week for my next round of LudoBites experience!

  20. 20

    MaryMoh — April 12, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    I just enjoy reading and looking at all the delicious food and drooling over each one πŸ˜€ Love the presentation of the food. Wish I can present so beautifully!

  21. 21

    Bianca @south bay rants n raves — April 12, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Ah, glad to see my hand modeling shot made the final cut πŸ™‚ let me know if you ever need a hand model! Beautiful pictures! I was curious to see how they turned out & they didn't disappoint! Nice seeing you again. See you soon!

  22. 22

    Ravenous Couple — April 12, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    Tsz and Bianca: you both have lovely hands–thank you for toasting for that picture!

    Lindon, Elliot, Amy and Misty: It was great meeting you all for for the dinner..still dreaming about some of those fabulous dishes.

    Alice and Pepsi Monster: Have fun and report back!

    Mary: yes, the presentation matched the deliciousness for sure!

  23. 23

    Dave — April 13, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    Wonderful shots!

  24. 24

    OysterCulture — April 16, 2010 @ 2:50 am

    Wow looks absolutely amazing – I'm very intrigued to check out his cookbook now! What a dinner.

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