Le Comptoir LA (Pop-up at Tiara Café)

 

// Visited: 12.31.11 //

 

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It is simultaneously exhilarating and nerve-wracking that one of the very best loaves of bread in L.A. can be found at pop-up restaurant Le Comptoir at Tiara Café.  Exhilarating, because it shows how far we’ve come in elevating (pun intended) the quality of bread in L.A.  Nerve-wracking, because, well – just as I am by nature anxious when I don’t have three loaves of bread accessible at all times (one on the counter, two in the freezer), a pop-up is ephemeral by design – and how will I be able to track down this delicious bread when chef Gary Menes moves on from his current location?

I was looking for a low-key way to ring in the new year with a girlfriend.  And since I’d wanted to try Le Comptoir for a while now, New Year’s Eve seemed the perfect opportunity.

Everything was very innovative and very playful.  All the dishes were fun to eat and lovely to look at.  The chef clearly is devoted to his farm-fresh vegetables and eggs, and celebrates the human producers (farmers) as well as farm animal producers (e.g., chickens).  The dishes were so Chez Panisse in their simplicity and celebration of the ingredients.

That’s why I’m embarrassed to admit that I paid the most attention to the foie gras and the bread.  I can’t help it.  When excellent foie and bread are placed in front of me, I don’t care about anything else in the world.

I was so enamored of the bread that I flagged down Menes several times to rave about it, and made him discuss sourdough starters with me.  Yes, I’m a big bread fan.  Really, it’s hard not to be with bread as well-crafted as this was.  Menes’ bread was densely crisp, with a moist, firm crumb and the tang of wild yeast.

Although I tried hard to live up to my promise of eating an entire loaf of Menes’ bread, I stopped at about 3/4 of a loaf.  Next time I’ll go after having refrained from eating the entire day, and see if I can devour the entire loaf.

The service was attentive but not overbearing; the crowd was composed of food-lovers more than scenesters.  It was a fun, leisurely meal, with an ambiance that matched the playfulness of the dishes.

Three hours passed and yet it felt like we had only been there for little over an hour.  We left shortly before midnight, warm glow of good wine and rich foods washing over us, exclaiming surprise at the lateness of the hour. 

A perfect way to end 2011.

 

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Tiara Cafe (the restaurant hosting Le Comptoir)

 

Amuse Bouche of a Chicharron with Dip (a playful take on chips and dip)

 

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The Amazing Bread

 

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Foie gras terrine, dried cherry compote, pain de campagne ($18 supplement)

 

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“soup and sandwich": san marzano tomato bisque, farinette, yogurt (currently sans bisque)

 

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"soup and sandwich": san marzano tomato bisque, farinette, yogurt

 

sunny side-up egg, young lettuce, herbs, sorrel jus

 

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sunny side-up egg, young lettuce, herbs, sorrel jus

 

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sunny side-up egg, young lettuce, herbs, sorrel jus

 

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“veggie plate”: musque de provence squash, beet greens, carrots, fennel, turnips, onion petals, bosc pears, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, pea tendrils, fresh chick peas

 

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house made fettuccini, preserved black truffles ($20 supplement)

 

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“pot roast": heirloom shelling beans, pole beans, oyster mushrooms, young celery, smoked scallions, sultana-pistachio relish, truffle froth

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“pot roast": heirloom shelling beans, pole beans, oyster mushrooms, young celery, smoked scallions, sultana-pistachio relish, truffle froth

 

 

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strauss ranch veal ny “steak,” hearts of romaine, confit of barbara’s potatoes, baby leeks, sprouting broccoli, hearts of romaine, parsley vinaigrette ($8 supplement)

 

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chocolate cake, caramelized bananas, graham cracker, ice cream

 

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chocolate cake, caramelized bananas, graham cracker, ice cream

 

Le Comptoir LA
hours of operation: thursday, friday, saturday seatings at 6pm and 8pm.
reservations: www.lecomptoirla.com

Currently located at:
Tiara Cafe
127 E. 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 623-3663

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