A Movable Feast: LudoBites 3.0 at Royal/T Café
There are restaurants that food bloggers like. There are restaurants that food bloggers adore. And then there is LudoBites, a pop-up restaurant that sometimes seems as if it is run for the sole benefit of food bloggers, who cop scarce reservations online, tweet the wine and photograph every course with the intensity of Annie Leibovitz cooped up with the Rolling Stones. If on a Thursday night there is a person in the house who doesn’t sport at least a Twitter feed, I would be very surprised.
LudoBites, of course, is the creation of Ludovic Lefebvre, a youngish chef who apprenticed in the three-star kitchens of Meneau, Passard and Gagnaire in his native France before he came to L.A. to cook at l’Orangerie and then Bastide, and what he offers at his floating restaurant — the few evenings each season that he cooks — is the opportunity to taste his fresh, imaginative take on French haute cuisine at something close to diner prices. He loves his blogger crowd — he installed a light box in the kitchen so that they could take sparkly photographs of his food; he sometimes recruits bloggers to work as his prep chefs — and the online bickering between Ludo and his wife, Krissy, have marked them as the Ricky and Lucy Ricardo of the local Twitter set. When Lefebvre’s sous chef walked out during service last week, the Internet exploded with dismay.
None of this would matter if he couldn’t cook, but he can, brilliantly, pairing ultrafresh Monterey squid with a puréed kimchi and smear of chorizo; stuffing beignets with lobes of foie gras; serving a sort of deconstructed sushi of peppery raw tuna with vinegared rice ice cream; and occasionally frying peppered chicken in duck fat. Caramelized cod is touched with a bit of classic mole, which he learned to make from blogger Teenage Glutster’s mom. By the time you get to the restaurant, any or all of the dishes may have changed — braised veal udon; eggs en meurette with lardo; duck breast with carrot cake; or pork belly with eggplant and coconut.
This time around, LudoBites is set at the art-intensive cosplaytearoom Royal/T, famous for waitresses dressed in uniforms typically worn by Japanese maids. The dinners, which continue only a handful more days, are technically sold out, but cancellations occasionally happen, and you might luck into a table if you e-mail with enough notice.
Remaining dates: December 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City, ludolefebvre.com/ludo-bites.
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