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Steamed burgers at Umami and Short Order

If by "reek of cow" you mean it actually tastes like beef, it sure does.

Dec 07, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Steamed burgers at Umami and Short Order

Sous vide, steam, it's all the same to me. Whether you seal something in plastic and put it in a water tank, or put it on a tray on the steam setting of a combi oven, it's all the same. Low temperature cooking at precise temperatures to ensure consistency. Call me old fashioned but I find these practices absurd and unnecessary, merely crutches so that chefs and cooks no longer have to pay attention to what they're doing and can automate their process. I'm sure Umami was designed to expand since day one. If you're doing fast food and charging 3-4 bucks for a burger that's fine (and even then I get a cooked-to-order burger at In n Out), but if I'm paying $10+, I'll just take my business to Houston's or Morton's.

What I'm realizing from some of these responses is everyone has a difference reference point. It seems like there's a camp that enjoys burgers as the sum of their parts, which I don't get, but hey whatever floats your boat. The best burger I've ever had was the one I make at home in a cast iron skillet with Pat LaFrieda meat. But don't let the quality of the meat fool you, that is not the determining factor in what makes a burger taste great. It's the cooking method. I flip the burger every 30 seconds in a cast iron skillet over raging high heat, Heston Blumenthal method, and the end result is a medium rare burger that has a profoundly beefy, savory, dark crust.

I'll admit that the burger at Umami LOOKS great. But after a few bites I have to wonder if there's something wrong with my taste buds or I'm missing something. There's just no flavor whatsoever.

Dec 07, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Steamed burgers at Umami and Short Order

My rant is this:

The meat has no flavor, period, and now I know why.

If I sound incredulous, it's because I am. We've got so-called "artesan" burger joints charging a premium for a burger and...steaming them?

Call me a purist or whatever. I'm a firm believer that a good burger is not the sum of its parts. A good burger has a foundation of a great patty and a great bun. If you don't have a good patty, it's not a good burger.

I know there will always be someone chiming in, "Well if it's a good final product, then..." If you like mushy, falling apart, flavorless meat, hey, dig in. Maybe I just didn't get the right burger with the right toppings to make up for the lack of flavor.

I could have simply stated, "Umami and SO suck! Stay away!" But you, like myself, enjoy a great burger, you'd probably want to know WHY these places aren't very good.

Dec 06, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Steamed burgers at Umami and Short Order

Normally I'm not one for rumormongering.

I've been to both Umami and Short Order, several times at each. Every time I've gone, I'm always sitting there, looking at my half eaten burger, wondering how on earth it's possible to produce a burger patty that is so completely devoid of flavor.

I know many here will disagree, some will agree, but this is simply a discussion on the flavor of the meat itself. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I could walk out of a Ralph's with a pound of conventional 85/15 burger meat, cook it at home, and wind up with something that has at least twice as much flavor as the patty from either Short Order and Umami.

The patties at both restaurants have always been incredibly tender and possessing that desired "fall apart" consistency, leading me to believe that there was some funny business going on in back. At Short Order I even prompted my waitress, "This meat is so tender! Is it cooked sous vide and then finished on the grill?" She ensured that all the patties were indeed cooked over a wood burning grill.

I'm no dummy when it comes to cooking over hardwood. When I BBQ during the summer I buy untreated firewood and burn it in a weber and grill over that. No charcoal for me. The burger patty at Short Order was so pale and light in color that I knew there was no way in hell that burger was cooked entirely over wood.

A quick google search of "Umami sous vide burgers" turns up several pages that more or less confirm this atrocity.

I've been told by a restaurant friend that Short Order steams their burgers and holds them at temperature in a steam jacket before giving them a quick mark on the grill.

I'd hate to think of myself as a food snob or some sort of "connoisseur" simply because I want my burger cooked to order on a high heat source. I'm even okay with a griddle, and in fact I know that to be a fantastic way to get a beautiful dark brown crust on a burger. It's the method of choice at Shake Shack. I'm also a big fan of burgers cooked over high heat in a cast iron skillet.

Knowing all this, I can't help but wonder at the popularity of Umami. The best bread in the world or tastiest condiments could never make that burger taste good to me.

I haven't even mentioned the cost of either one of these establishments. I've spent between 10-13 dollars per burger at both. I don't mind paying more for a burger. I'm a fan of the burgers at Rustic Canyon and Father's Office. But to pay that much for meat that is either steamed or cooked in a boiler bag is downright absurd.

There is one burger that I enjoy on a regular basis and would wholeheartedly recommend: Burger Lounge. The meat is cooked to order on a griddle, the bun is toasted in butter, the meat is grassfed but they'll serve it to you an honest-to-god medium rare so it's still very tender and flavorful, it's just a very well made burger, and for $9. This is currently my go-to burger.

The fact that sous vide cooking has made its way into our burgers makes me want to boycott the process altogether...

Dec 06, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Sotto is Spectacular

FWIW, the word is "cornicione".

A good friend of mine is currently making pizza in L.A. I can't say where, but he spent 3 years learning pizza at Da Michele. He currently makes the best pizza I've ever had.

Sotto comes in 2nd. I showed my friend some pictures of the pizza we had and his response was, "This is the closest thing in L.A. I see to Napolitan style".

I loved the rest of the food too. It's gutsy. I'd have to concur that anyone who disparages the place either went on an off night, or simply "didn't get it".

Oct 30, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

That's a fair point. I've certainly gone to certain taco trucks that were jamming that simply weren't that good.

I should have specified that the Italians that I've known to make those assertions are "foodies", as much as they'd cringe at that term. One of them in particular is this friend I've mentioned who makes the best pie I've ever eaten, period.

If Enrique Olvera told you what was authentic and what wasn't, you'd probably listen.

Jul 12, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

Nope. The only reason my buddy is here is for a "special favor". I'll leave it at that.

Jul 12, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

I read that post. For some reason there are still posters trashing Neapolitan style pizzerias for having "soggy" or "raw" centers despite a wealth of information as to what Neapolitan style pizza should be. Whatever.

I will say though, that despite the modern wave of pizza joints popping up in SF, NY, and LA, none of the pies I've tried measure up to what's in Naples. Even Anthony Mangeri admits the best pizzaioli don't make it to the states. They're treated like rock stars and paid well in Naples. My buddy is an exception. I've seen how he makes his dough and there are two main secrets that I'm 100% positive are not known at any pizzeria in the states.

Jul 11, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

Funny. So I suppose the Mexicans I know aren't a reliable opinion on tacos and I shouldn't listen to my neighbor from Beijing when he refers me to a restaurant serving Peking duck.

Also, in Italy, it's a consistent theme that other regions do poorly to replicate the specialities of other regions. I've tried pizza in several regions in the south and west and it typically sucks.

Jul 11, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

800 Degree Pizza Falls Flat

I'm going to reiterate this one more time for those who don't understand what Neapolitan style pizza is:

It's supposed to be soft, and what some people would call soggy. I've eaten at 800 degrees, it's not even close to the best pizzerias in Naples, but it's not bad at all, especially for the price.

In Italy, pizza is a dish. There is no "this style, that style" with very few exceptions, like pizza al taglio, which is a DRASTICALLY different product, and probably closer to what people equate with "NY style". When Italians from Italy eat pizza here, I've heard a lot of them call it flat bread with toppings.

I know a pizzaiolo who worked at Da Michele and other top pizzerias in Naples. He's in L.A. now trying to figure out his next move. He makes, hands down, the best pizza I've ever tasted in my life. I ate at Pizzeria Bianco recently and it fell flat compared to my friend's pizza. His pizza is not crispy, except at the very edge of the crust, or "corgione". What is remarkable about his pizza is the FLAVOR. There's something to the ingredients that happen at those high temperatures that produce intensely savory flavors. And despite that, his dough is light and airy, hence the sogginess in the middle. I can eat a whole one of his pizzas by myself with ease (and they are large). To contrast, I can eat about half a Mozza, Milo and Olive, or Pizzeria Bianco pizza and feel full, if not bloated. I don't care for those pizzas anymore. I don't get off on thin, crispy crust. Milo and Olive's sauce has way too much garlic. Most of these pizzas are too salty and oily.

So, if you like crispy crust flatbread with cheese and toppings, fantastic! More power to you. But for those disparaging 800 degrees pizza as "soggy pizza" and not being authentic or good, hopefully my post can shed some light as what real pizza is.

Jul 11, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Foie Gras?

fantastic. I'll hold onto my stash until prices quadruple and then sell...

Jul 06, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Foie Gras?

I know of several restaurants that have freezers full of foie. I can only imagine there are many more. Let Prohibition begin...

Jul 06, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Small downtown report: Umamicatessen, Handsome Coffee, and Mexicali Taco

I haven't had an Umami burger in years since I first tried it at the La Brea location. I'm normally one to take several trips to a restaurant before forming a solid opinion, but that first experience was so bad that I never found the desire to return.

Well, the chance to visit a location that had Micah Wexler and Chris Cosentino as collaborators was enough to warrant a visit.

We ordered the pig ears with brainaise, a country pate sandwich, and a hatch burger. I offer the following critique:

The pig ears were not done well. Typically when cooking gelatinous or cartilaginous cuts, you want to boil either ears or skin for at least 45 minutes to dissolve the gelatin and soften the cartilage. Properly cooked pig ears are boiled, the dried and or pressed, and then fried. These were tough as hell and completely unpleasant to eat. The brainaise tasted mostly like anchovy, which I liked. I like pork brains but didn't detect much porky flavor.

The country pate sandwich was the worst item. It wasn't a country pate, but more of a pate "loaf", very compact and lacking any spreadable or crumbly quality whatsoever. It had been sliced on a meat slicer, and I don't know of any country style pate that has that quality. But even that would have been fine if it hadn't been literally 3 thin slices on a medium sized roll with what must have been a full 1/4 cup of mustard. Just smelling the sandwich was overpowering. We took one bite and put it down. I'd like to see the cook who made it, or Chris Cosentino, or Adam Fleischman sit down with an entire sandwich and see if they can power through that much mustard. And there was a generous amount of pickles on it to boot. $14 for this sandwich, no side. Since when is pate that expensive?

The hatch burger was a major letdown, and my criticism of Umami burger from years ago still holds today. The meat has zero flavor. Close your eyes. Take a bite. Do you taste beef? Is there anything remotely beefy or meaty about this burger? No. I tasted cheese, bun, and that's it, though I do give them a point for crisping up the inside of the burger bun. $10 for this burger, no side. The burgers here are cooked sous vide and then finished on what appears to be a flat top. Let's assume that the burgers are cooked sous vide for flavor purposes, there are HUNDREDS of things you could do to incorporate more beef or Umami flavor; cook it with rendered dry age beef fat, or pancetta, or caramelized onions, or soy. But I don't think that's the case, I think these patties are cooked sous vide in giant batches to facilitate achieving a consistent product across multiple outlets for operational purposes. I'm curious to see how one of these would do in SF or NY.

The pate sandwich was removed, and the total with tax and tip was still over $20. And the place was packed. Service was fine, though it's painful to have to sit through the server's explanation of what Umami is, the 5th taste, and all that nonsense. I laughed thinking about any ramen chef in town sitting down to a burger and listening to the server explain the spiel.

Will not return. I'll go to Baco Mercat any day over this.

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Handsome coffee. You walk in and automatically there's a vibe in the room. It's very serious. I'm not much for this sort of thing but I do really like my coffee. I'm doing my best not to stumble over my words or do anything uncool while I order. Despite the serious vibe, the guys behind the counter are friendly. Needless to say, the espresso and cappuccino were very very good. It's just so serious. They wipe the rim of your cup with a wet nap for christ's sake, like a chef would wipe a plate at a michelin starred restaurant. I'm happy enough with Angela's on Sunset which is much more relaxed.

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Mexical Taco & co.
I'd never been when these guys just had a cart as I was always working those hours. Was really excited to check out their storefront. As soon as I bit into that first carne asada taco I understand the hype. That one bite immediately took me back to mexico. Beef! Really honest to god beef flavor, with just a slight note of funk and charred fat. Thank god, and a much needed reprieve from Umami. Two tacos, a vampiro (jesus, that garlic sauce gives Zankou a run for their money) and an horchata for $12. We have a winner, will be back for sure.

Mar 22, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Meyer lemons still in season?

Friend's Ranch (that's the name, not a friend of mine) at the SM Farmer's market

Mar 21, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Steakhouses In Los Angeles County near the beach

Ive got some friend ties to Sunset. You can put her in the newly-fired category there too. Apparently she doesn't do any cooking, let alone "her way".

Feb 11, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Fantastic Blue Bottle Coffee at Angela's on Sunset

I was surprised to see this place located where it is, in a mall with a Joe's Pizza and Burger Lounge. Pretty sure most people in the area would pass this place over in favor of Starbucks/coffee bean/peet's. I'm incredibly thankful as I live a few blocks away, but I would expect to see it in Silverlake or Los Feliz. Regardless, if you're into coffee, this is *the* spot. Beans ground to order, weighed out on a scale. The coffee was incredibly clean and nuanced, definitely worth the $3 per cup. The cafe itself is well lit, lots of outdoor seating with white tablecloths and fresh flowers. This is obviously a labor of love, and I really hope it survives and does well here. Next time I'll check out their espresso, which is pulled from a Marzocco. The staff here obviously are into their craft, but they're not even remotely pretentious unlike what you often find at Intelligensia. They serve cake monkey desserts too and some sandwiches.

Feb 06, 2012
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Farm Shop - Brentwood Country Mart

It's a mistake. Fries are not 10.50 there

Jan 09, 2011
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Farm Shop - Brentwood Country Mart

That's a mistake, desserts are like 7 or so

Dec 15, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Farm Shop - Brentwood Country Mart

The pastrami is made in-house.

The prices are on the steep side for breakfast/brunch, but consider:

The brunch omelette is filled with the salmon rillette used at Bouchon.
It's served with a croissant made in house and is probably the best croissant in L.A.
It's also served with a side of Weiser farms fingerling potatoes cooked on the griddle and topped with caramelized onions and sea salt.

So to compare it to your "typical" brunch or breakfast isn't really a fair comparison. Portion sizes are indeed large and could easily be shared.

Dec 13, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Tinga on La Brea. Some of the best Mexican food I've ever had.

Yeah, I should have mentioned in my posts that both times I went it was like 3-4 in the afternoon and there were only a couple other people eating so my food was prompt. Bummer, I hope their service issues don't affect them too much.

Aug 04, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Tinga on La Brea. Some of the best Mexican food I've ever had.

Oh, and I fail to see any hyperbole in a desire to go skydiving on acid ;) No balsamic for me unless it's extra vecchio...

Aug 01, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Tinga on La Brea. Some of the best Mexican food I've ever had.

I was going to make a comment about El Chato and Leo's in the review but it was getting longwinded as is. Totally different animal. I love both of em, and the al pastor at Leo's is currently one of the great loves of my life at the moment (with some of that red sauce...good lord is that good). It's not exactly comparing apples to apples here, but if I had to choose, I would probably take the cochinita at Tinga over the pastor at Leo's, as much of a heretic that makes me, I'm sure. (This is without factoring the dollar price tag at Leo's and the fact it's open until 3 a.m.)

Regarding the Texas BBQ comment, there is a certain texture that meat gets when it's properly cooked slow and low. A certain density, I don't know how else to describe it. There was a portion of my pibil that was black, that indeed reminded me of a good brisket, that black, very very well caramelized meat flavor.

Different strokes for different folks bsquared2. I don't care for Loteria because some of the flavorings are odd or imbalanced to me, and I'm not a fan of food that's been cooking forever in steam pans.

I like Yuca's on Hillhurst when I'm in the area. It's not a destination spot for me, whereas based on the food I've had at Tinga the last two days, it would be. The pibil at Yuca's is tasty and juicy, it has a certain juiciness about it that suggests some moisture is added to the meat via some sauce, whereas the pibil I had at Tinga was....denser, meatier.

I'm really looking forward to hearing others' comments on this place...

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Yuca's
2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Tinga
142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Aug 01, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Tinga on La Brea. Some of the best Mexican food I've ever had.

I normally don't speak in hyperbole like that. Some disclaimers first: 1) I'm aware there's a thread about Tinga but I felt there was too much discussion about LSR in Santa Barbara and I want this review to just cover this restaurant. 2) This born-and-raised in Southern California guy has never been to Mexico. 3) That said, I've been to many of the often-praised Mexican restaurants in L.A., including La Parrilla, Loteria (not a fan), Monte Alban, Carnitas Michoacan, Mariscos Chente, etc.

I've gone twice in the past two days, as it's right up the street from me and there's a huge lack of good food in this area. I've had:

Cochinita Pibil tacos. Ridiculously good. The seasoning and textures is just excellent. It always bothers me when I get a guisado or something that's long cooked and there's just no texture to it, as if it were rillette or something. The flavor has a deep complexity and I noted some char on it, it reminded me of real barbecue from Lockhart, Texas (just not as smoky).

Shortrib tacos. Ridiculously good. Again, the texture of the meat. They call it deshebrada but instead of shredded, it's a nice hunk of cooked shortrib that is juicy and bursting with meaty flavor. The mashed potato and salsa verde just rounds it out to be a truly excellent taco.

Tinga Tostadas. Excellent. Chipotle flavor in the chicken is perfect. Again, perfectly seasoned, beautifully crisp tostada.

Side of beans were a little bland. Creamy rice is really good, but I would probably stick to the tacos. The side of grilled corn is fantastic, with a dollop of salsa verde and crema...I could eat a giant bowl of this.

Both their horchata and jamaica are two of the finest I've ever had.

Today they gave me a free coconut macaroon. Moist interior, crispy edges, dipped in chocolate. Awesome. There was also a special of chicken and waffles, with the chicken being battered in Horchata. Both days I've gone they've given me a little freebie. I wouldn't expect it in the future and I assume it's because this is their first week. They didn't need to sell me any more. If they can maintain their consistency then I will be a loyal regular, freebies or no.

I don't know how authentic it is. I spoke to the chef and some staff, apparently he's a catering chef and this is his first outlet. In cases like these I could care less about authenticity. The food tastes really damn good here and you can tell this is a work of love.

It's not cheap. They sell the tacos "a la carte", which is actually two tacos (or two tostadas in the case of the tinga). The pibil and shortrib tacos were something like 8.50 for two. But they are delicious, and substantial. Drinks are 3.75 but it's a large cup and both times I've been offered free refills.

I think many people will start comparing Tinga to Loteria or Red O, that realm of "high end" Mexican that attracts mostly gringos. I've been to Loteria many times and Red O twice, and my two experiences at Tinga were far more enjoyable than either.

I will be back often.

P.S. oh, and speaking of La Super Rica, I grew up in Ventura and used to go to LSR quite often. Tinga takes the cake on them too...

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Monte Alban
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Mariscos Chente
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Tinga
142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Aug 01, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Bazaar? Hm...I'd rather go to Providence or Melisse.

There may be several reasons, but something worth noting is that Spanish food does not by definition require foams, gelees, warm gelees, fluid gels, spherifications, airs, cotton candy, or any other hocus pocus. We can thank Mr. Adria for this association, but in Spain there are restaurants like Can Fabes which are more traditional but still very luxurious. And even in the inventive modern style there are places like El Poblet, but Los Angeles is a long ways from attaining a restaurant of this caliber.

Jun 27, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

dRed 0 - The "Mr. Chow-is-to-Chinese" Mexican Equivalent

You're not doing much for the reputation of the L.A. dining scene....10PM is considered early in other metro areas, let alone Europe. Sheesh.

Agree with the poster above. Give us the good stuff, or nothing at all. As I mentioned, we would have been fine with a few drinks. We mainly wanted to check out the space. I never go out with a sense of entitlement. I could have easily gone down the street to Mozza and eaten until midnight if I wanted. What's more, is we saw them admitting more guests after we arrived. I never enjoy mentioning this but between the four of us that night we have over 20 years in the restaurant industry, most of it in L.A. If that Sunday was any indicator of what's to come, I don't see Red O taking off. They should take a cue from Mozza or The Bazaar. Both of those restaurants have more than their share of faults, but every time I've been to both they are incredibly accomodating and professional. Seeing as how Bayless has such a name, I would expect him to surround himself with a similar team of service-oriented individuals.

Oh, and P.S.
arrogance: overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors. Reread my post. Do I express incredulousness? Yes. Disappointment? Yes. Criticism? Yes. No quality restaurant ever "slaps something together and sends it out in hopes that you never come back". Think they do that at Craft or Providence? I dearly hope you don't actually work in a restaurant, for the owner and chef's sake.

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Red O
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Jun 08, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Anyone been to LudoBites at Gram & Papa's so far?

Couldn't agree more. Having been in the restaurant industry for the last 10 odd years, it pains me to see people make comparisons of chefs to musicians. I implore you, take chefs off this pedestal. Even within the context of comparing a chef with any artist, in any great art there is craft first, creativity second. And there is always, always editing. When I hear of chefs "taking risks", it makes me want to puke. Please. It's not hard to spend an afternoon conceptualizing a dish and practicing a few times before presenting it to a public, and any chef worth his salt will have a repertoire that he knows he can execute well, while modifying the components of the dish to stay "fresh" or "current". Steak, white asparagus, green peppercorns? These are not groundbreaking flavor combinations, nor are scallops, cauliflower, grapes, and almonds for that matter. These flavor combinations have existed for decades if not more. Very often, the pleasure we derive from good food may seem like creativity at its best, especially seeing as how culinary art is sort of the new kid on the block compared to visual or auditory arts, BUT, I promise you that pleasure you derive is more than likely from the craftsmanship involved in the execution of a successful dish. When I talk about poor balance, you can liken it to bad brush technique. That painting might be beautiful to 99% of the populace, but to the trained eye it's downright embarrassing.

Jun 06, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

dRed 0 - The "Mr. Chow-is-to-Chinese" Mexican Equivalent

Feeling compelled to chime in here.

Decor, I was blown away. The space is truly gorgeous, probably the most beautiful restaurant I've ever seen. I don't think it's clubby at all. I could gush for hours on the details, the alternating textures, the different rooms...

4 of us walked in Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend at 10:00 PM sharp, no reservation. The door man, who I'm pretty sure is a manager, treated us like we were trying to walk into Industry on a Saturday at midnight. Reminder buddy: you're greeting guests at a high profile restaurant, not some exclusive SBE club. He had to clear it with the kitchen apparently, even though we were perfectly fine with just drinks. "Bar, kitchen, it's all the same, it all closes at 10." Really? 5 days after opening? Memorial Day Weekend? Don't you want to try to make a GOOD impression? Second manager inside was very welcoming but our interaction with him was brief. We sat at the bar and when the bartender asked us what we'd like we responded that we were still deciding and figuring out how we were going to proceed. His literal response was throwing his hands in the air and saying, "Well, that doesn't help ME much now does it?" in a half smug, half sarcastic manner that completely fell flat. Nice way to start the evening. The drinks tasted great but the balance was off, too weak too....watery. We ate the pork sopes, hali ceviche, chicken tamal, and lamb tacos. Sauce on pork was superb, pork meat was dry and tough, sopes were fine. Halibut was a major letdown, the halibut did not taste fresh, I tasted it about 5 times, incredulous that they would serve this. Not bad mind you, it tasted about 3-4 days old. I understand there are no fish deliveries on Sundays but for a ceviche here you would expect better. Lamb was decent, underseasoned. Chicken tamal was great. One of my dining companions is a manager at a high profile bar in the city and decided to order a mezcal cocktail. Their liquor manager happened to be there and was reluctant to sell him a mezcal cocktail, even talking down to him, "Have you HAD mezcal? Most people don't like it." He had to repeat 3 times that yes, indeed, he knew what mezcal was, and yes, indeed, he wanted to order it in a cocktail (the drink was great, the best of the bunch)

Soft opening, I'd understand. We're talking half capacity, I saw two servers chatting in the dining room, no packed madness going on, open to the public? Not a great first impression guys....I'll be back for the room and some mezcal. Food and service were MAJOR letdowns.

Jun 06, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Anyone been to LudoBites at Gram & Papa's so far?

I have a different set of standards. Whether we're talking about a catering event for a wedding, a private party, a taco truck at 3 a.m., my friend's mom's Peruvian cooking, my grandparent's Mediterannean cooking, a cook is a cook is a cook. What you put on that plate represents you. It's mind blowing to me that anyone would put themself in the hands of a chef, or a cook, and know ahead of time that some dishes they'll love, and others they'll loathe, and essentially be treated as a guinea pig, and PAY FOR IT?

Ice cream should never be icy. There are many techniques to overcome this and to willingly serve it shows a lack of attention. We could get in a lengthy discussion about what proper technique is in another thread, about what it means to be a good cook and to present food that is balanced. My criticism stands and has nothing to do with my ability to "loosen up" or enjoy myself.

As for the "opening week jitters", it would be understandable if I saw the kitchen hustling and falling behind. This was not the case. There was no sense of urgency, just everyone moving at a relaxed, too relaxed pace. To spend that much time on the food should ensure the quality of what went on the plate. That means to me that everything we were served was exactly how Ludo intends it to be, and in that case, I'm not interested in his food.

Apr 17, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Anyone been to LudoBites at Gram & Papa's so far?

I went opening night. 4 top, ordered one of every app, steak and chicken entree, one of every dessert. Service was bad. We BYOBed and our server topped off my oxidized L'Etoile with our Riesling that we brought before I could say anything. Timing of courses was awful. We literally got one app, waited 20 minutes, got another, waited another 20 minutes, told our server to just fire at will and it still came out slow. I was watching the kitchen and I didn't see any action going on. Just very slow movements. Plates weren't that beautiful. Croque monsieur was okay, I don't get the hype. I could use a hell of a lot more foie. Dish with cheese and honey was pedestrian, nothing interesting. Carrot salad was interesting and was quite excellent with the Riesling we brought, but on its own it was extremely astringent and not pleasurable to eat. Everyone seemingly enjoys the fact that he's using a high tech gadget called a gastrovac, but having used one myself they're really nothing special. It's a very precise crockpot that happens to have precise vacuum/pressure control. Scallop dish was quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten. The scallop was raw, good quality, and mild, so the accompanying caper puree, which also looked like vomit, completely destroyed the dish. The cauliflower ice cream was icy, no craftsmanship there, and the almond puree didn't do anything to tie together these flavors which could work if they were executed with more balance (i.e. searing the scallop, toning down the caper element) Escargot was decent, needed some punch. Lobster was good but it was literally a scrap knuckle piece hidden by the potato espuma and the egg was overcooked, which I don't understand. If you're going to serve an egg 64 you just keep it in a thermal circulator all night and crack em to order. Very classic flavors too and nothing terribly inventive here.

The steak was the highlight. Perfectly cooked with a perfect crust, delicious green peppercorn sauce, and crisp white asparagus, which I would prefer cooked more to sweeten it up but homeboy probably wants to get his money's worth on the Gastrovac, and it did provide a nice textural contrast. Chicken was good.

Desserts bombed, the chocolate souffle was undercooked and that raspberry religieuse is a travesty, is it supposed to be pate a choux? What's with the horrible piping design? We asked for coffee with dessert and it never came.

I know I sound harsh but seriously, this guy helmed L'Orangerie. He hawks his cookbooks at these events with topless pictures of himself. The dude better bring it in the kitchen, and based on my night, he just doesn't.

Apr 14, 2010
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area

Searching for the real Dover Sole.

Having worked in a high-end restaurant here in L.A. that served the real deal, I can tell you that all Dover Sole is frozen. If you're cool with that then call up IMP or Santa Monica Seafood. I would personally go through IMP. If you were to do a taste test of Dover Sole that you eat fresh in Europe and the Sole you get here, it would certainly be noticeable. However, if it's defrosted correctly and cooked correctly it's absolutely delicious nonetheless, and very expensive.

Jul 07, 2009
fooddude37 in Los Angeles Area