It used to be that dining in Los Angeles was an open-ended proposition. Jude was a single guy and had disposable time to follow food trends and hot new places. For a time he even had a newsletter like his dad for Los Angeles. It was quite good. And short-lived.
Now he’s juggling way more than most guys his age, and eating out in Los Angeles is determined by distance driven (just like most other things there.) Luckily, he has some very good “neighborhood” restaurants, and one is even celebrated.
Ludo LeFebvre is a French chef who with two partners wowed the Los Angeles dining public when they exploded on the scene a few years ago with Trois Mec, a dumpy little sensation in a dumpy strip mall in Hollywood. They expanded operations to Sherman Oaks, opening Petite Trois a few years ago. The original Trois Mec didn’t make it through COVID.
We absolutely love Petite Trois, and it is petite. An arresting brasserie built around a bar and open kitchen, Petite Trois offers delicious French favorites everyone will love: Steak Frites, an omelet, Croques Madame and Monsieur, Chicken Paillard, Roast Chicken, Mussels, Pistou, Sole Meuniere, Trout Amandine, and shareables like housemade baguette with French bordier butter, marinated olives, etc. And, of course, piles of French fries. Also on the menu are some things one can keep all to oneself, like tartare and escargots.
Tom ordered both of these on separate visits, shared neither to no one’s objections, and loved every bite.
The rest of us ordered Steak Frites, Chicken Paillard, the delectable Boston Lettuce salad with French Dijon Vinaigrette, onion soup, and the Big Mec, Ludo’s playful nod to the Golden Arches. Dessert was something we rarely see, order-ahead souffle.
On this last visit there was only time for Jude and me to have a quick bite between all his runs. We sat outside in the tiny 6 table al fresco space. Immediately I recognized the voice at the adjacent table. I was already sitting with my back to Martin Short, so I couldn’t turn around and stare. And it was too late to switch places because Jude had parked the car and sat down. (Besides, I wouldn’t do that anyway. So amateurish!! That would be almost as bad as sitting in one of those roofless vans that go in and out of celeb neighborhoods.) But I definitely did get an update on all the behind-the-scenes details of Martin Short’s life and career as he dined with his son and the son’s female companion. So fun! Eavesdropping is one of my favorite dining extracurriculars. (Maybe that’s why I rarely notice overhead music.)
We didn’t have much time to course out the meal, so we had just two things. Jude got the Pistou pasta that seemed more pesto than anything else. It was creamy and lusciously decadent. I get my Croques confused, but I knew I didn’t want an egg, so I ordered the Monsieur, which amounts to a hot ham and cheese sandwich, but definitely a gourmet one. It too was decadently rich, with the melted Gruyere cheese oozing out the edges looking like scalloped lace. The Mornay sauce tied it all together nicely.
A little hot Gruyere goes a long way, and the Parisien ham had a strong flavor as well. It was an intensely assertive sandwich, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was smallish, and the flavor packed enough of a punch that it was satisfying. The light French vinaigrette that comes with all green lettuces here is delightful.
Martin Short and his companions ambled away right about the time we finished up. I was glad Jude got the check because I would have been annoyed that they’ve switched to the European style of tipping. I would have tipped forty percent without knowing it. I wonder if Jude did. Maybe not, Ludo is such a media darling that the new policy is surely common knowledge.
It’s not like that would keep us away from Petite Trois anyway. Regardless of all the hype, the food of Ludo LeFebvre is really delicious, just like everyone says.
And I’m so glad I could catch up with Martin Short!