Last week came news of LA's best import, chef Ludovic Lefebvre, and his next pop-up eatery which will manifest itself inside Gram & Papa's downtown. Eater caught up with the busy chef to discuss a few unanswered questions including thoughts on the upcoming menu (sorry kids, no fried chicken here), future restaurant plans (a fried chicken place?), and the location for LudoBites's international outpost this summer! Read on.
1) Congrats on debuting your 4th pop-up eatery, how did you decided to open at Gram & Papa's? I really wanted to go downtown. My goal with Ludobites is to move around the city to reach different clientele. LA is so big. It can be very difficult to drive across town to get to a restaurant so I bring the restaurant to different areas. It is fun for me because I get to meet new people each time. Gram & Papa's had the exact feel that I wanted, a big open kitchen so that I can have contact with my guests, I like to feel the experience and be part of it. It is very important for me to see how people react to the food. When the kitchen is behind the wall I can't have that one on one experience. Gram & Papa's will allow me to speak directly to the guests. I want dining to be like in my house. Anyone can ask me any questions they want or let me know if they don't like something and why.
2) Does this mean that a permanent restaurant is out of the question or is this a venture you are still considering? No, I would not say that is out of the question. I have looked at a lot of restaurants but I have not fallen in love yet. I want the perfect space for me and I don't want to rush it. But I can't stay home either. I need to cook. LudoBites gives me an outlet to cook and helps me explore different parts of the city to see where I could one day have a permanent restaurant.
3) Everybody is eagerly awaiting your menu. Can you give us an idea of what to expect and some sample dishes? Will any dishes come from old menus? Any particular dishes you are excited about? Will there be fried chicken? I feel that my job as a chef is to always explore and create new dishes, but I also understand that I have to give customers what they want. The menu will be mostly new, but for sure I bring back one dish because I had so much demand, the black foie gras croque monsieur. It was a favorite at Breadbar and I did not do it at Royal/T, so I will bring it back this time. My menu is going to be more French this time. Last time it had a lot of Asian because that was right for the space. I am going to have a new escargot dish, smoked salmon chantilly Napoleon, frisee salad with poached eggs and bacon royale, foie gras ravioli, steak aux poivres and a chocolate souffle with cognac black pepper ice cream. It sounds traditional but everything will have a "Ludo twist." I don't think I am going to do fried chicken, I want to save it for another project.
4) Another project? Can you elaborate? I am still trying to figure what to do with the fried chicken but I would like to do something that is just fried chicken on the menu. Don't know exactly what yet.
5) This 4th pop-up runs until May 28, where will you go after? LudoBites is going international. We will be in Bangkok in June. I am very excited.
6) So, will the Bangkok pop-up be like the ones you've opened in LA? The international LudoBites will be a hybrid, I will do 1/2 the menu and the current chef will do half the menu. My 1/2 of the menu will be just like my food here.
7) Your pop-up restaurants always offer BYO as an option. If you were to open up your own place would you get a liquor license and serve alcohol or go with the BYO route as well? I think it would be a combination. I definitely would want to have a wine license and offer a small wine program from interesting new wine makers with good prices, but I will always allow BYO.
8) If you were to open your own place, where would you ideally want your restaurant to be located? I have not decided yet. It is more about the space than the location for me. I have looked at restaurants everywhere from Santa Monica to Hollywood. I just need to fall in love with the space and of course the price needs to be right. I don't want to spend a fortune on a restaurant because that has to be passed along to the guests. I want a restaurant where people can come every week.
9) Where have you been eating around LA lately? I have caught up on my restaurants in the past couple of months. It is difficult to go out when I am working so much. I had a fantastic meal at Providence last week. Michael did an amazing job. I also had great meals at Petrossian, Hatfield's, The Dining Room, Rivera, and K-Zo. Jitlada has become a regular favorite. But I need to dig deeper into J.Gold's 99 Most Essential list soon and try more places in SGV.