Le Comptoir, Gary Menes' traveling restaurant, is finally coming to the end of its current incarnation at Fred Eric's downtown Tiara Cafe. Menes says that the last dinner will be August 11. "We were coming up on our 1-year anniversary," Menes said. "Come celebrate our 1-year pop-up. How ridiculous is that?" Le Comptoir, which is French for "the counter," has been installed at Tiara's literal counter, serving Menes' beautifully articulated vegetable-driven food, since last October. As for why the change, well, pop-ups are of course meant to be temporary ("a pop-up is a pop-up"), and both chefs are wanting to move on to other things.
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Menes had been in talks to sign a lease, first here and then there, but it is an ongoing process. "I have a couple choices," said the chef about where he'll pop up next, mentioning Orange County as a possibility. As Menes lives in Long Beach, this is not terribly surprising. "Maybe just a trial run. L.A. is where my heart is." Menes is still not sure that a long-term lease on a brick-and-mortar place is what he wants anyway; he cites the wants and needs of his crew and his farmers. There are also aesthetic issues. "I want to see how long I can do this unconventionally." But no matter where Menes opens next, "the concept will be the same no matter what."