Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RESTAURANT: Ludobites

In order to understand Ludobites, you have to understand the people behind it. Ludovic Lefebvre sometimes looks like this:


But more often he looks like this:

His wife, Kristine, sometimes looks like this:


But more often, looks like this:

Ludovic Lefebvre is one of the top chefs in the world. Kristine Lefebvre was a high-powered entertainment lawyer and one-time contestant on "The Apprentice". In other words, they are both gorgeous and talented and you would think, therefore, extremely worthy of hate. But you would be wrong.

All you have to do is spend one night at Ludobites, the pop-up restaurant they run together to understand that in reality these two are sweet, friendly, down-to-earth, fun and crazy in love with each other. All they want to do is hang out together, have fun, make food and extend their hospitality to anyone who cares to join in.


Half Chicken, Chorizo, Poached Egg, Chanterelles, Saffron Onions Soubise

What is Ludobites? Ludobites is a pop-up restaurant that takes over various locations in Los Angeles for temporary amounts of time. They have served up dinner at Breadbar, Royal/T, Gram n' Papas and Max in Studio City. Ludobites is also practically a cult. People eagerly await for the next location to be announced and when reservations open, the site gets so flooded with requests that it regularly breaks down altogether and reservations usually fill up in a matter of minutes.

In execution it is a bistro-style affair, with Ludo cooking the high-flown, imaginative dishes which made him a wunderkind chef, with all the ambiance of an intimate, informal French family kitchen.

Ludo Torches a Dish at Gram 'n' Papa's

It definitely feels like a family affair. Kristine is there to greet you at the door with a huge smile. Ludo is always around, making his presence felt and running the kitchen, and the servers are often the same from location to location.

You feel, when you attend a Ludobites, like you are getting to know the Lefebvres, so accessible and friendly and casual are they - they treat everyone who comes in like a friend and it's easy to see why they are a winning combination, with Ludo as the wild child whose unrestrained creativity is sort of managed and directed into a successful business practice by his capable wife.

Caramel Souffle, Blanco Grapefruit, Fleur de Sel Ice Cream

And the food? The food is like nothing you've had elsewhere and nothing you will ever have. It's combination of classic French technique, a wild imagination and some molecular gastronomy thrown in there as well. As long as you are ready to let go, be open-minded and give things a try, then you will find food that ranges from classic to homey to elegant to outrageous.

Ludo Takes a Short Breather

Some of my favorite dishes have included: poached egg with potato mousseline and chorizo - though this was a dainty looking dish, all done up in a petite serving dish with flowers and a smooth, gourmet appearance, the flavor was hearty and satisfying and I would have this for breakfast any weekend.

Steamed duck with a crispy skin puree - I am not normally a huge fan of duck. It is difficult to cook just right and therefore it is a bit of a gamble to order it. It was the words "crispy skin puree" that enticed me though and I'm glad I risked it. The duck was cooked perfectly and it was as satisfying as a good fried chicken - tender and juicy with a contrasting crunch. The saddest thing about Ludo dishes is that even as you eat them, you know you will probably never eat them again.

One thing I always look forward to is the fresh bread selection. It could be a fluffy baguette or it could be an exotic naan, but it's always well executed with some kind of exceptionally flavorful butter to make it the most memorable bread experience you might have in a restaurant.


Grilled Octopus, Oregano, Grilled Hazelnut Polenta, Pineapple Aioli, Piment D'Espelette Gelée

The thing that defines Ludobites to me though, is the unexpected moments. That is where they really shine and where you know this restaurant is deserving of the cultlike adoration it gets.

During Ludobites' time at Royal/T - almost exactly one year ago - J. and I went for dinner and were greeted by the chagrined, frazzled looking Kristine, who gave us a menu but informed us that due to an "emergency in the kitchen" the menu was pretty much thrown out and if we stayed, we would be consenting to a fixed meal that they could not predict ahead of time what we would eat.

We just shrugged and said "sure!" We later found out that one of the sous chefs had up and left in the middle of service and the kitchen was small enough that it basically equated half the staff walking out. It turned out to be one of the more fun dinners I have ever had. The entire meal was a surprise, and we never knew what we would eat until it came. I felt it was a success and it really showed how even the most dire situations can work. If the staff is willing to put their nose to the grindstone and work through it, and the diners are willing to set aside their personal entitlement and desires and just relax and be served then it will work out. Since the meal was discounted for the inconvenience, and we still got a multi-course gourmet meal I think we got one of the more fantastic bargains of our life - all we really gave up was the ability to choose for ourselves what we ate.

Steamed duck with crispy skin puree and lemon verbena and a balsamic white peach

The other incident that defines the spirit of this restaurant to me was at this last Ludobites 6.0 at Max restaurant in Studio City. As we were nearing the end of our meal, a large party was coming in and Kristine asked if we would mind scooting over one table and that she would buy our dessert for the favor. Of course, scooting down one place was hardly an effort and we didn't really feel any need to be compensated for it.

But when she found out that we had paid the bill before she could take the dessert off, Kristine insisted on getting us cash out of the till to pay us back for our dessert, and she ended up giving us more than it even cost. It was an extremely generous and friendly gesture and as it happened we chatted and she really revealed their mindset as she talked about wanting to host a big dinner at their house.

"Do you really want all these people knowing where you live?" I asked. And I watched the realization dawn on her. She had been so excited about the thought of hosting everyone at her home that the complications of their celebrity, even as localized as it is, hadn't occurred to her. She really does think of them as just two people hosting dinners for everyone and having fun.

Poached Egg, Potato Mousseline, Chorizo

So now the hard part - how does one actually go to Ludobites? It's always roving and it only happens during specified times. The best way to get updated on when it will be open for business and where is to go to the Ludobites website and sign up for the mailing list. They will update you by e-mail when the next Ludobites will be and when reservations begin.

The next part is just persistence and luck. Getting a reservation can be difficult but I will say that we have always succeeded - and if you do not succeed in getting booked at first, keep trying. Seats open up and they do seem to take a certain amount of walk-ins if you are willing to wait, depending on the location.

Good luck!

Goat Cheese Soup, Bacon, Lardo, Tofu, Green Apple, Frisee Salad

4 comments:

Thank you so much for a wonderful summary of LudoBites and realizing how hard we work. It means so much. Thanks for all of the support. Krissy & Ludo

said by Kristine at 7:22 PM Delete

We will have to come to visit you sometime when we could try this out. Sounds so good.

said by Glick & Haupt Law Office at 8:36 PM Delete

Wow, thanks so much for the comment, Krissy - glad you got to see the write-up!

Mom-It will be hard to time a visit right to when they will be open, but we could try!

said by KT at 10:55 AM Delete

GAH! i really want to try a ludobites but i keep losing them!!!!

so lucky! great intro also. hahahaha

said by kish at 3:25 AM Delete

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