This week, Besha Rodell sits counter-side at Gary Menes' Le Comptoir within the Hotel Normandie. Although Le Compotir, once a pop-up concept that inhabited various locations across LA, finally has a permanent space, the stripped-down aesthetic remains. The dining counter is all about Menes' vision, an unwavering dedication to the products he serves his diners:
Menes' farm and its harvest provide the basis for the six-course meal he serves, courses that pair decidedly unsweet butternut squash with the sugary pop of preserved blueberries, or stone-ground polenta with sweet onion, onion jus, apple, almonds and romanesco. Though veggies are Menes' main infatuation, other obsessions reveal themselves: the stretchy, chewy, crusty bread made from a 20-year-old starter; the single-origin coffee; the optional cheese course with rare cheeses. For any and all of these items, Menes will give you the rundown as he serves you, gushing about the 90-year-old who produced your creamy Roquefort or describing the exact roasting process of his coffee beans. [LAW]
While the LA Weekly critic finds Le Comptoir to be "so much more interesting, and memorable, than many of L.A.'s more luxurious endeavors," she can't ignore the overwhelming austerity of the experience, and awards the restaurant three stars.
The Elsewhere: The Offalo experiences both hits and misses at République, Bill Esparza chows down on rabbit, quail, and chicken necks at Mama Gallina, and Heather Platt runs down 10 places for new parents to eat out and drink beer.