I miss many things about living in Paris, but one of the biggies is the food. I'm not going to diss Los Angeles restaurants because I actually think we have some great, inventive and diverse cuisine here. However, I miss having a causal French bistro on every corner or at least in my neighborhood, where I can go for a simple, but well prepared meal. Ludo Lefebvre is trying to help me out with his newest restaurant Le Petit Trois.
Ludo is French, bien sur, and has done pop-ups, food trucks, and beaucoup de cooking in Paris. His partnership with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook in Los Angeles brought him much acclaim for Trois Mec (review here). Not wanting to rest on his laurels, and to perhaps give people who couldn't snag a seat or who didn't want to pay the $100+ for a ticket, yes ticket, Ludo created Petit Trois.
Petit Trois was designed to be a casual French bistro. No foams, reductions or wizardry, just straight up classic French cuisine. There's no reservations, which I worried about, given Ludo's daily rising popularity, including the recent James Beard Best Restaurant nomination. I showed up with a friend one night last year, and we were turned away due to a private party that closed the place down. We learned and called the 2nd time and arrived promptly at 6:30 and found just a handful of people perched at the bar stool only locale. You gotta sit at the marble counter facing the chefs so you can see the action and even interact with them if so inclined. A few asked for feedback and they were also happy to answer questions. Ludo himself whizzed by a few times, but he primarily spends dinner next door at Trois Mec.
The menu has all the classic French hits - gougere, rillettes, escargot, steak frites and even a simple boursin cheese and chive omelette. That omelette by the way, will set you back $18, but will supposedly change your life, and the way you view eggs and the universe. We watched many an omelette be made, and butter was not spared in any way in the making of the dish, but much care did go into the folding, the precisely cooking and the presenting of it. There was nary a dark edge or crisp piece to be found. Just a whole lot of pure dairy, straight up.
Foie gras has been banned in California since I returned from Paris. A cruel bienvenue, or welcome, home for me. The ban has recently been lifted and Petit Trois was serving up the goods. I hadn't had any in a few years and I savored every bite of the rich, delicious block of cool, creamy duck liver, served simply with toasted bread and two small pools of salt and pepper.
Steak tartare hit all the right notes with a little heat, acid and much soft, luscious steak, offset by the crunchy blanket of fried shallots on top. I could eat that everyday, but at $19 for a decent size appetizer portion, I probably shouldn't.
Braised leeks were lighter and punchier with a deep, tangy mustard playing a starring role.
Watching the croque madame come together was almost as much fun as watching the French onion soup get draped in cheese and shoved in the oven for a crisp, nutty crust. The croque was piled high and teaming with a creamy mornay sauce and a bright sunny side egg on top. Ham brought in the appropriate amount of salt and savoriness. You can assume that we're not dealing with Wonder bread here either. The bread is an inch and a half thick, perfect for holding all of the ingredients together. That was a $23 sandwich.
After witnessing the torching of the napoleon crust, we had to order the flaky, multi-layered dessert. It didn't disappoint with the right ratio of crust to cream, and that cream was well-balanced, not overly sweet.
Did Petit Trois quench my French bistro craving? It did. Would I return? Absolument! Do I wish it were cheaper? Mais oui! I suppose if I want more quality, inexpensive French food, I need to go back to Paris, so factoring in the price of a plane ticket, I may still be coming out ahead at Los Angeles' Petit Trois.
718 N Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA