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Le Comptoir: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Le Comptoir is every chef's dream restaurant: a few counter seats, a single menu each night, and the intimacy of a sushi bar — although it is a pop-up, huddled around the open kitchen of the sprawling restaurant Tiara. An armful of fresh herbs pokes from containers on the service counter, and the customers sit close enough to chat with the chef, ex-Marche auteur Gary Menes, about the provenance of the enormous squash, the odd growing season in Paso Robles or the homegrown starter he uses to make the huge blackened loaves. Menus are a formality — you will eat what he has prepared. Each dish seems to require at least a half-dozen preparations, and when the food is being cooked a few inches from your stool, you become aware of every one of them: the buds of curried cauliflower served with padron peppers, ripe persimmons and a molten spoonful of grits; or the whey-poached chicken breast with grapes, pickled shallots and crunchy sheets of its own fried skin. The menu was different yesterday, and it will have changed by tomorrow — except, perhaps, for the egg, plucked warm from a backyard hen that morning, sizzled crisp on superheated iron. In a way, this is pop-up dining at its best: the spontaneity, the illusion that, like Coltrane on the restaurant's stereo, Menes is making it up as he goes along. 127 E. Ninth St., dwntwn. (424) 571-3536, facebook.com/pages/Le-Comptoir-at-Tiara-Cafe/262315170471537?sk=info. Reserve at lecomptoirla@gmail.com. Thurs.-Sat., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. & 10 p.m. seatings, at least through December. Wine. Street parking. AE, MC, V. California.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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miles
Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe - Closed

127 E. 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90079

424-571-3536


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