In case you need any more convincing that the Fairfax district is becoming a food destination, maverick French chef Laurent Quenioux plans to open Bistro LQ in the recently shuttered home of Mimosa by July 10. The former Bistro K owner abandoned his plans for 1100 Wilshire after deciding “downtown is becoming a restaurant farm with high rent.” Given his limited budget, he opted for a more suitable space at one-third the rent and an “impeccable” kitchen.
On June 3, the space was buzzing with construction workers. Quenioux hired fellow Frenchman Herve Daridan (Bloom, Pastis) to redesign the look from rustic to contemporary. They grew up only eight miles from each other in Sologne, but never met until Daridan designed Bloom, which is owned by Quenioux’s friend Arnaud Palatan. “He’s doing something extremely simple,” said Quenioux. “The focus will be the food.” Expect “simple hues” like black, white, grey and sage. The bistro will host a black awning with white letters, sidewalk seating, black-stained wood floors and banquettes with grey and sage striped vinyl. “Even at night, it will be light,” said Quenioux. “It won’t be like a cave.” In back, he’ll even have a chef’s table with 8 seats and fragrant flowers. The trellis is already in place.
In terms of food, “It’s going to be very similar to what we were doing at Bistro K. Strong distinctive bold flavors and a mix of textures.” The price range is moderate, with half portions available on every dish, an option he’s had since 1986. “The passion has always been stronger for me than the financial reward.”
Quenioux test-drove a lot of recipes during his recent stint at Vermont Restaurant and hopes to have access to the Bistro LQ kitchen in two weeks. You can order a la carte or choose from three different tasting menus (6 course, 6 course vegetarian or 9 course). The menu will change seasonally, but expect dishes like oatmeal infused fresh fennel with lobster broth and cinnamon roasted Maine lobster; or a Mixed Grill smoked over charcoal with aromatic mastic – beef culotte, pintade hen leg confit, tarragon scented oxtail and veal feet jam in phyllo.
Quenioux became known for daring game offerings at Bistro K, but insists game is only one facet to his approach. He said, “I’m passionate about game, but it’s only available in November, December and January.
Quenioux’s pastry chef friend should arrive from France by the end of June. He’ll offer a full pastry menu, along with a degustation. Desserts are divided by FRUIT and CHOCOLATE. Think rice pudding in goat milk with cassis sorbet, red beet espuma and “little truffles” or avocado mousse, stewed basil seeds in lime sel and chocolate ganache with Serranos. The pastry chef will also bake all the breads and rolls in-house, plus prepare fresh chocolates, macarons and marshmallows.
Nicole Grandjean of Nicole’s Gourmet Imports in South Pasadena will supply the cheese cart with 20-25 cheeses. Fromagier John Zerrouki plans to feature pairings like blueberry gelée with Parmesan and green tomato-fig compote with Roquefort.
Gregg Greenbaum is overseeing the wine list, but Quenioux is making sure to feature wines from cousin Michel Quenioux of Domaine de Veilloux. Argilo is a “family blend, organic, pressed by gravity.” The house wine will be Michel’s Gamay blend. To drink, Quenioux is also offering house-made tisanes, prepared in a French press, including Sherazade – linden flower, verbena, mint, berries and sweet briar; and Jucica Vitality – abata cola, mulberry-leaved passionflower, bitter orange and cassis.