Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre has become a rock star in L.A.’s food community. His twin tenures at BREADBAR Los Angeles generated nearly unprecedented adulation from local food bloggers, with many adherents returning for multiple meals during his summer stint. When he and wife Krissy announced the December dates for their pop-up at Royal/T in Culver City, they booked every table within days. It was the food equivalent to a Bruce Springsteen tour, minus the Big Man and the drummer from Conan O’Brien. The official start date was December 2, but FoodDigger’s founders were kind (and savvy) enough to host a blowout preview the night before Ludo opened the curtain. In true Ludo fashion, he made wholesale changes to the LudoBites menu since August, and even though he was still becoming acclimated to a kitchen so small he didn’t even have room to plate, the nine-course meal was memorable.
In case you’re unfamiliar with FoodDigger, it’s a restaurant website that uses an algorithm to determine FlavorMatches – palate compatibility – for “diggers.” Think eHarmony, but for stomachs instead of hearts. To generate interest with local tastemakers, three of FoodDigger’s founders – Marshal, Brian and Will – host elaborate TastEvents. For their LudoBites preview, they invited 13 food bloggers, including Kevin (Kevin Eats), H.C. (L.A. and O.C. Food Adventures), Fiona (Gourmet Pigs), Sonja (Active Foodie), Javier (The Glutster), Danny (Kung Food Panda), Liz (Food, She Thought), Cathy (Gastronomy), Caroline (Caroline on Crack). Lindsay (LAist), Elina (LA Times) and Rachel Hirschfeld, a Le Cordon Bleu Paris graduate and member of Les Dames d’Escoffier.
Royal/T is a Japanese concept in Culver City’s gallery district that combines pop art, food, tea and maid service. The massive space features exposed wood beams and glass enclosures that spotlight different art, which is all for sale. LudoBites 3.0 coincides with a 50-artist multi-media exhibit curated by Jane Glassman, titled “In Bed Together.”
For our meal, we dined at a pair of communal tables inside a glass box. The “room” was lit by a black chandelier ringed by miniature lamps. On the wall, Ludo projected “L’invention de la Cuisine,” a documentary starring famed French chef Michel Bras. During the course of our three-hour meal, we repeatedly watched Bras fabricate, cook and plate a monkfish. Krissy Lefebvre informed me that this was a one-night-only showing, since Glassman prefers to project more risque images.
Before the meal, Ludo made a short speech, explaining that he was still adjusting to Royal/T. “It’s like driving a new car,” he said, “but we’ll figure it out. It’s my job.” He said that Royal/T is a good fit for his concept, since it’s Japanese and his cooking blends French technique with Asian ingredients.
LudoBites 3.0 was already very good, and Ludo is just getting started. It will be interesting to see what happens once he has a larger menu at his disposal and 110 people to cook for each night, instead of just 16. Two things are for sure. He’s bound to improve upon his new dishes, just like he did in LudoBites’ prior incarnations. The menu is also going to be very different by the time he closes LB3 on December 22.
If you want to learn more about Ludo and his food, read his Food GPS PROFILE.
Note: Royal/T is not accepting reservations for LudoBites, so don’t bother calling. Instead, refer to the official LudoBites reservation system…not that it matters. They’re all sold out. Sorry for the 1200-word gastro tease.