"You all need to thank Anna for being here," Our waitress, Emma, said to our table causing me to nudge my friend Joan sitting next to me.
This was my second Ludobites adventures after experiencing the 4.0 series a few months ago and she thought I was the one responsible for bringing a table of hungry Ludobite virgins to Gram & Papas in downtown Los Angeles yesterday evening.
Niet. I was the one lucky enough to be invited by Joan who managed to score online reservations for the opening week. And truth be told, I enjoyed the Asian, Indian and Latino inspired flavors of 5.0 so much more than the heavier more traditional (if there is such a thing) 4.0 set. One day later, I am still smiling inside because of this:
Vadouvan Naan Bread, Salted Coconut Butter ($4): warm, curry spiked naan mellowed out by cool coconut butter which we nibbled on debating our dining plans. Truly addictive.
Grilled Squid, Heirloom Tomato Saladm Black Rice, Yuzu Red Onions, Umami Broth; Seaweed Tartare ($14): the Monterrey squid was perfectly cooked, giving me something pleasant to chew on along with the chewy black rice. I loved the seaweed tartare's salty bursts and the subtle acids coming from the onion and tomato.
Raw Wagyu Beef, Dried Miso, Somen Noodle, Peanut Vinaigrette, Candied Watermelon, Mint ($16): I honestly got a little creeped out since the meat looked like it came out of a grinder, but I did try the candied watermelon which continued hold its crispy juice. My friends at the table all enjoyed this dish.
Goat Cheese Soup, Bacon, Lardo, Tofu, Green Apple, Frisee Salad ($14): broth was poured table side into the brioche-cheese-frisee stack making it the anti-blogger dish as the bread quickly sops up broth creating a soggy mess if not consumed within minutes. Unless, you're into that sort of thing.
Poached Egg, Potato Mousseline, Chorizo Condiment ($14): Joan, who's allergic to shellfish, was relived to discover Chef Ludo is now omitting the prawn that was originally in this dish. Joan, also, gets the "Moan of the Night" award for her reaction after one bite. One bite melding a layer of Chef Ludo's famous potatoes, creamy poached egg and rich chorizo level was a trip to heaven for my mouth
Confit Pork Belly, Raw Choucroute Thai Style and Mustard Ice Cream ($24): I didn't want to like this dish. I didn't even want to order it. I don't fork the pork. It ended up being one of my favorites. The luscious shreds of pork belly with chili-limey shreds of jicama, cabbage and marinated onion started a dance party in my mouth. The dance party turned into a rave with the intense mustard ice cream. A little goes a long way.
Grilled Octopus, Oregano, Grilled Hazelnut Polenta, Pineapple Aioli, Piment D'Espelette Gelee ($16): these sexy octopus thighs were perfectly tender with a good dose of char that I adore in a cephalopod. The gelee, made with the rendered juices of cooking the octopus for hours, was the most intriguing aspect, making each bite taste like octopus to the tenth power. A little bite of each component in this dish is an example of the ludomagic and makes for one of my favorites of the night.
Wild Striped Bass, Cauliflower, Black Garlic, Yellow Panna Cotta ($28): almost a wedding on a plate, if it weren't for those two cloves of sweet fermented garlic stealing the show. This was my favorite dish of the night. I loved how the juicy firm fish and curry-lemony panna cotta delicately merged by way of cauliflower puree in each bite. I couldn't help but to eat my share of the fermented garlic on its on - full bodied, yet pleasantly mild.
Caramel Souffle, Blanco Grapefruit, Fleur De Sel Ice Cream ($14): Ludobite's souffles have officially ruined me. Fluffy bites dabbed with salty cream and clumps of fresh grapefruit marmalade made for a perfect summer dessert that I'll only be able to experience just this once.
Campfire Smoked S'mores, Guacamole Sorbet ($14): while devouring the souffle, we decided to order the other dessert offered on the menu. Although I loved the prominent dark chocolate aspect to this dessert, the marshmallow and graham cracker were nothing special and I could not figure out the guacamole sorbet and how/why/what it was supposed to do with the S'mores. If I had to do it all over again, I would order another souffle :)
With Chef Ludo! From left to right: Sharon, Kat, Me, Chef Ludo, and Joan.
and my TALFS (Totally Awesome Lady Friends) with our lovely waitress, Emma.
July 21-September 3, 2010
Gram & Papas
227 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015