DTLA: Gary Menes Pops Up with Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe
My BFF and I love Chef Gary Menes’ food and will go to anything he does any chance we get. When I heard about his new pop-up, Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe, I excitedly make plans to check it out after I got back from Portland Cocktail Week.
We started off with a little amuse bouche. The padron pepper had been stuffed with cheese and rested on a bed of grits. For the vegetarians, Chef Gary would remove the crackling on top. That was the great thing about this intimate pop-up. We sat at the counter. The 12 seats faced the kitchen and we were seated in front of the bread, Chef Gary’s station. He has two other cooks and a runner/server. That’s it. Chef Gary took our order, plated, cooked, served and presented us the check at the end. He envisions his permanent space to be something similar.
His food is the epitome of farm to table.
The first course was broccoli veloute. Although I love Chef Gary’s soups, I decided to go with the foie gras (for an additional $18). The creme fraiche are tucked into those pillows. The contrast between the cool cream and the warm soup was amazing…or so I was told by my gloating BFF.
I was amazed by the huge hunk of foie gras. I actually ran out of bread. Chef Gary reminisced how they used to toast up more bread as soon as the torchon went out at the French Laundry. With more bread, I demolished the foie.
For our next dish, we were given greens, herbs, butter and seasoning to pile on top of the sunny side up egg sizzling away in the Staub cast iron dish. This DIY dish was hands on. First you add the butter, pile on the lettuce and herbs and sprinkle the salt and pepper if you wish.
It was a simple and homey dish. I loved hearing about how local the eggs were. Chef Gary said it was one of the most consistent dishes of this pop-up run and he loved serving it.
The third course was the roasted musque de provence squash with mustard frill, chanterelles, grapes and barely. I had to laugh when my vegetarian BFF first saw this dish. At first glance, she thought it was salmon (ha!). But Chef Gary is known for his veg dishes and this was no exception– it was savory and warming.
My friend was probably the only vegetarian entree of this seating. She got the cheddar cauliflower with Barbara’s apples, leeks and chocolate persimmons.
I went for the steak. The Wagyu rib eye was served with its juices, carrots, radishes, romaine and shallots. It was so tender!
We ended our meal with “something chocolate,” a brownie-like cake served with caramelized bananas and walnuts. It was a nice little way to end the meal. There was a cheese option before dessert but we were just too full.
We talked to Chef Gary afterwards asking him to teach a soup making class. I hope he does!
Le Comptoir runs now through the end of November for the time being. Look for a more permanent location soon. There are three seatings a night; 6, 8 or 10 PM three nights a week (Thursday-Saturday).
$46 for 5 courses, wine pairings for $24
Reserve by email: lecomptoirLA@gmail.com
Gary’s twitter: @garymenes
Facebook page: Le Comptoir
Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe
127 E 9th St., Los Angeles, CA 90015
Other Meals by Gary Menes