Le Comptoir’s Exceptional Prix-Fixe Counter Dining

pleasurepalate has been following the career of Chef Gary Menes, who she says has a truly impressive culinary résumé. Cases in point: Menes started at Patina Restaurant in Los Angeles years ago before moving on to Thomas Keller's French Laundry in 2000. Most recently, he ran the much beloved, recently closed, and much mourned Marché. But now he's back with pop-up restaurant Le Comptoir, which has two tables and fourteen counter seats with a full view of the chef in action.

Le Comptoir offers a five-course set menu that changes weekly for a shockingly reasonable $52 per person. There are also a few luxury add-on options (more on that later).

For pleasurepalate, this was the best counter-side dining experience of her life. Her prix-fixe meal included Okinawan sweet yam velouté with pickled chanterelles, which had a smooth, silky texture and sweet-earthy flavors. She also tucked into an heirloom bean pot roast with raisin-pistachio relish and truffle froth. pleasurepalate also ate "one of the best plates of vegetables I've ever had."

"I don't even know how to describe how good everything tasted," she says. "The textures were perfect and how the individual flavors of the various ingredients played off of each other was sublime."

Supplemental luxury options offered that evening included a foie gras terrine with preserved cherry compote and barrel-aged vinegar. The tart-sour of the cherries and the vinegar cut the sweet richness of the foie gras, pleasurepalate says. Another luxury option: house-made fettuccine with Burgundy black truffles and Parmigiano-Reggiano. "Rich, cheesy, earthy and delicious," pleasurepalate says.

There was one dissenting opinion on Le Comptoir from ipsedixit, though. "If it were not a pop-up (or a pseudo pop-up) the food would not nearly seem as charming, or quaint," ipsedixit says.

Chef Menes promises that Le Comptoir will be around at least through April.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Café [Downtown]
127 Ninth Street, Los Angeles
Reservations available through the website

Discuss: REVIEW w/pics: The Best Counter Dining I Ever Had Was at Chef Gary Menes' Le Comptoir