Sunday, March 29, 2015


Le Comptoir 
The Historic Hotel Normandie
3606 West 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: 213.290.0750 (Reservations taken online only)
$$$$ ($50+)
Fri, 03/13/2015, 8:30pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)

The Exterior: No sign

Le Comptoir, which means counter in French, is a 10-12 seat counter, farm to table conceptual restaurant. Chef Gary Menes takes pride in his restaurant concept. The menu changes regularly depending on what is in season. Menes offers seasonal ingredients, obtaining most of them from his organic farm in Long Beach, CA. 

The eatery is small, with only the counter and the kitchen. The open concept is taken literally where everything is out in the open for you to see. Chef Menes, who had stints with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and Alain Ducasse, offers a 6-course prix fixe menu for $69 with wine pairings at $42. Although it seems fairly reasonable, the fare is heightened with supplemental fees if you want to devour more than beautifully cooked vegetables. 

Chef Gary Menes (Far right) with his sous chefs hard at work
Amuse Bouche: Crispy rice, carrot, shisito pepper and lemon rind. This a beautifully constructed bite. Great acidity, crunch with a hint of Asian influences.
MY FAVORITE DISH: FIRST COURSE: "Tomato bisque" veloute with greek yogurt, fried bread crumbs. The original menu stated that the first course would be Japanese mountain yam veloute, but it was changed last minute. Boy, am I glad it did. This was a creamy soup bursting with tomato flavors. The super crispy fried bread had a roasted feel to them. The yogurt added a nice richness to the bisque. This was the perfect way to start the meal. I literally could have had 10 bowls of this.
SECOND COURSE:  "Vegetable and fruit" plate. Potato, beets, celery root, celtuce, calamantsi, pickled onion, carrot, tangerine, zucchini, peas, grape, radish, and more...  (If desired, foie gras with $25 supplemental fee) If you didn't have your vegetables for the day, then this is your plate to make sure you do! Everything was freshly prepared and it gave you all the crunch, acidity, and texture imaginable. A good dish overall. 

THIRD COURSE: Oeuf en cocotte, beurre noisette, baby lettuce, brown butter, lemon, chives. (If desired, lobster with $16 supplemental fee seen below) The egg was beautifully presented; however, my egg was slightly overdone (I do like my eggs a bit runny). I definitely enjoyed the brown butter sauce. The greens were fresh and strong with a horseradish taste to them.  
THE THIRD COURSE WITH A $16 SUPPLEMENTAL FEE: Santa Barbara lobster, "lobster bisque", cauliflower leaves, lime. This was a fresh dish that takes you to the sea. The lobster was cooked perfectly and utterly succulent. The cauliflower leaves and lime added a nice touch. The "lobster bisque" sauce was delicious. Is it worth the supplemental fee? I think it depends on your preference of food whether you desire eggs or lobster. They are both two completely different dishes.  

FOURTH COURSE: Tranche of roasted butternut squash, wheat berries, preserved blueberries, pistachio. (If desired, tagliolini with black truffles with $30 supplemental fee). Who would have thought eating vegetables could fill you up?! The butternut squash was extremely delicious and buttery. The chef provided a substantial amount in the size of a steak. The wheat berries were a grain that complemented the squash well. 
FIFTH COURSE: "Fricasse" romanesco, apple, almonds, sweet onion, stone ground polenta, jus d'onion. (If desired, dry aged prime beef with $16 supplemental fee as seen below).  Anything with creamy polenta I am a fan for and this dish is one of them. The dish offered a nice acidity counteracted by sweetness from the onions. The apple was cooked perfectly. A successful dish. 

THE FIFTH COURSE WITH A $16 SUPPLEMENTAL FEE: Dry aged prime beef, rouge de hiver, pear, parsley vinaigrette. The steak was cooked to rare versus medium-rare. Some parts were over seasoned and others were under seasoned. Regardless, the quality of the meat was exceptional. Overall, a good dish.
SIXTH COURSE: Sourdough donut, sour cream, meyer lemon curd, orange marmalade (If desired, chefs selection of cheeses with $15 supplemental fee). The donut was crispy and made fresh. The lemon curd added nice acidity that went well with the donut. Instead of marmalade, we actually had a bruleed banana that was delicious. 
HAND CRAFTED ORIGIN COFFEE ($8.00): Must order at the beginning of the meal. Please allow for 15 minutes of brew time. The coffee was not too strong so no need for sugar and cream (they will not provide it). 

Overall, Le Comptoir is a vegetarian's dream. Chef Menes provides exceptional vegetables that are straight from his garden. I appreciated that dishes were timed perfectly. The service was a bit blotchy and I felt one of the sous chefs (who acts as both a waiter and busboy) was a bit pushy in terms of supplemental orders and wine pairings. There are two seatings at 6:00pm and 8:30pm. I prefer the later time as you won't feel rushed to leave. The restaurant is not cheap, especially since you would be easily lured into upgrading the dishes with the supplemental fees. Comprehensively, the food is good, Chef Menes is personable and you will feel somewhat healthy for eating your vegetables for the day. On a side note: You can do valet at the hotel if you are unable to find street parking. 

Notable dishes: Tomato bisque veloute and sourdough donut

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