Tasting Menu, The Unplugged Version
Claim to fame: Chef-Owner Ludo Lefebvre trained with Gagnaire and Passard before bringing his culinary shenanigans to LA
Reason to go: Fine-tuned gastronomy flavored with joie de vivre
To look out for: A thoughtful wine pairing, save for the Puligny-Montrachet whose voice was deafened by a very loud lobster
There’s a couple of stoners eating donuts in the restaurant’s parking lot. Are they paid to loiter there? They make perfect sense in the Trois Mec-world of laissez-faire nonchalance, a small universe that is so too-cool-for-school it doesn’t need proper signage, the owners haven’t even bothered taking down the previous tenant’s blinking neon, there’s just a small note on Raffallo’s Pizza’s front door that reads “no more pizza!”. Sound pretentious? It is, sort of. But as soon as you enter the cramped establishment you’re greeted by a sincere “Bonsoir”, and you’re immediately struck by the warmth and waggishness of Trois Mec, which in French loosely means Three dudes.
Full disclosure: the maître d’ recognizes us from a New York dive bar where we all used to be regulars. This too makes perfect sense; the high and the low, the rock n’ roll and the rococo. It’s fine dining with a side of Grateful Dead, and a warm-up act of highly inventive amuses bouches; rice vinegar-zippy buckwheat popcorn, a bombastic foie gras beignet, mustard crème brulée that’s vaguely like eating viscous salad dressing and a tandoori madeleine that sings a lovely duet with the Parigot & Richard Bourgogne Brut.
Bay scallops with shaved cauliflower, hazelnut praline and Cassis-marinated Asian pear are the art rock intro to root vegetable dumplings in parmesan broth; sweet yet spicy, obliging little pillows of butternut squash, parsnip and beet. Cutting into them is a Gene Simmons:y delight; blood red beet juice seeping into the clear pool of nutty, cheesy bouillon. Vadouvan-pitched lobster with pineapple and fennel makes for a melodic interlude after that super-riff. Next up: thinly sliced dry aged ribeye, grilled over an open fire, accompanied by a gansta rap cover of Mexican birria, here made rich with carrots instead of mutton. Then comes the real showstopper, an almost obscenely catchy refrain of grilled black truffle cheese sandwich-supplement served with crème fraiche charcoal ice cream; hot and cold, high and low. It’s incongruous and totally in line with Trois Mec’s irreverence. It has no place on a tasting menu, in fact we’re willing to bet it was invented by said parking lot stoners before it made its way on the Three Dudes’ regular repertoire.
Tapping a spoon against the bruléed egg yolk that tops a dessert of rice pudding with caramel and brown butter is childishly fun. Attending the rock concert that is French Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s dinner party is almost as fun as it was sneaking a teenage toke at your first big arena show.