Trois Mec is the brainchild of French Chef Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre a classically trained chef who studied under such culinary masters as Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Meneau and Alain Passard. Chef Ludo left the world of haute cuisine and moved to Los Angeles where he made a name for himself with his Pop-up restaurant concepts which were quite popular several years ago throughout the city. Today his efforts are focused on his two main restaurants, Trois Mec, his concept restaurant and Petit Trois, a classical French bistro, both located in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. He has also become somewhat of a TV personality.
Hidden behind an anonymous store front in a small, unpretentious strip mall just on the corner of Highland and Melrose Avenues in the heart of Hollywood, the place doesn’t even have it’s name posted outside but instead wields the name of a prior tenant, Raffaello’s Pizza – which ads to the mystery and intrigue of what’s to come once you pass through the doors.
What struck me from the beginning were two things – the coldness of the staff, I was at my table for almost two hours and no one so much as cracked a smile during our meal, presenting each dish with complete detachment. And the incessantly loud, pounding and overwhelming rap music coming from the house speakers. Like a penance from one of Dante’s circles of hell it was not at all an invitation to stay and enjoy the meal but a cry to “Get out!!!” as soon as possible… I found it very disconcerting and very intrusive throughout the meal. I have yet to understand why so many restaurants, Babbo in New York comes to mind, insist on blaring music so loud down your eardrums so that communication with your table mates is practically impossible.
The dinner is a set menu, divided into two basic types of dishes, 4-5 snacks and 4 main courses followed by dessert. The menu does not include wine, which you select from what in my opinion was a very expensive wine list governed primarily by French wines from different regions of the country. We selected a Cote de Baune Pinot Noir that was excellent.
The snacks arrived promptly starting with a Buckwheat Popcorn served in a small bowl – it was crunchy and salty but otherwise quite bland. That was then followed by a lovely Pea Veloute’ – basically a cold pea soup with a dollop of crème freche which I enjoyed very much being a lover of peas and their sweet, earthy flavor.
These were followed by a small square which looked like fried tofu, but was instead a crispy tapioca square with parmesan – for me the flavor was quite funky and very salty, my least favorite bite of the evening. These were followed by a Socca chip, similar to a thin, fried tortilla chip topped with scallion, fennel and herbs, very fresh and a pleasant counterpoint to the tapioca square whose funky taste still lingered in my mouth. This procession of snacks ended with my favorite, a subtle Mustard Crème Brulee that was delightfully flavored with a creamy consistency and a wonderful hint of mustard, sugary sweetness and spice.
The main dishes were what I was looking forward to when I knew I would be coming to Trois Mec and the promise of some truly inventive and delicious dishes – and I certainly was not disappointed. To start a lovely bowl of Big Eye Tuna served with red beets, rhubarb and soy with radishes and light lemony flavor. It was amazing, especially since I am not a raw fish aficionado, this dish was an amazing mélange of wonderful flavors, so fresh and pleasing to the palate.
We were then served beautiful Sacramento Valley Asparagus with a gribiche sauce highlighted by tarragon and capers. Again, refreshing and delicious with a hint of summer flavors which were just my cup of tea. This was followed by what I consider the “piece de resistance”, a Black Cod with Leeks and Meyer Lemon – a perfectly cooked piece of fish, simple in it’s presentation and combining flavors and components that made the dish simply a pleasure to enjoy. Our last savory dish was a Grilled Short Rib with Ratatouille and a Red Jalapeno jus. The meat was maybe a tad more rare than what I am used to but the softness and delightful texture of the meat was such that I enjoyed it tremendously and the spicy jus was original and delicious.
Dessert was not memorable though my tablemates enjoyed it – a creamy avocado, macadamia nut and ginger cream topped with an Aji Amarillo ice cream, topped with a scattering of Parmesan flakes. I disliked the Parmesan flavor intruding on the sweetness of the other ingredients and the Aji Amarillo ice cream made it way too spicy for my dessert palate.
Trois Mec…. Would I go back? Probably not, but it was a very fun and delicious experience but all of that was dampened by a staff that shows no affection or warmth towards its clientele or their restaurant (maybe they reflect Chef Ludo’s testy personality) and that incessant, drumming, loud music that pounded down on us throughout the meal made our exit feel more like a relief from bondage than the end of a delightful culinary experience.