Celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre and his wife, Krissy, popped-up shop Wednesday night at Redondo Beach restaurant to the delight of Southern California foodies.
The Lefebvres were filming the season finale of their new reality television show, LudoBites America. Each episode takes place at a different restaurant where the Lefebvres have set up shop for the night.
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Wednesday's theme: French-Mex.
Reservations for the evening reportedly sold out within a half-hour of opening at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the excitement of those who managed to snag a reservation was obvious.
"I can't wait to try his Mexican-French food," said Bricia Lopez before the meal. Lopez, who owns the Guelaguetza restaurant in Los Angeles, was a guest of Ludo Lefebvre.
"He wanted us to try his food," she said. This was her third or fourth time at a LudoBites event.
The restaurant may have been too popular. Despite plans for a second seating after 8 p.m., only about a dozen people of more than 100 guests had walked out of "Casa PuLudo" by 9 p.m.
Several diners were overheard raving about the food to the production crew as they left the restaurant.
Through Thursday morning, Twitter was abuzz with comments about the quality of the food and photos of delectable dishes, including Monterey squid served with chorizo, banana and honey clementine; foie gras quesadilla served with crispy cabbage and juniper berry oil; and crispy octopus served with smokey chipotle and piquillos pepper polenta. (See attached document for the rest of the menu.)
"Tasted entire #LudoBites menu last night with squid being the one I'll dream about," wrote Twitter user @AmyisCalling. "Never thought I'd say that!"
"Lovely dining at #LudoBites tonight," wrote a user who goes by the name "Catty Critic." "Brandade tacos [with] brocamole, squid ink risotto, chilled tomato soup [with] smoked trout YUM!"
Food bloggers also seemed pleased with the meal. One, who blogs under his first name Darin, said he "especially enjoyed the tomato soup, brandade taco (genius!) and foie gras quesadilla" in the conclusion to his post about the evening.
"Ludo continues to work with familiar ingredients in new ways, continually experimenting and testing flavor profiles," Darin also wrote. "Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time it does."
Anita Lau, whose food blog is called "Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman," praised most of the dishes, even calling the foie gras quesadilla the "star" of the evening.
"The creamy texture of the foie gras with the fresh crunch of the cabbage made every bite heavenly," she wrote.
The foie gras quesadilla was also the most controversial dish on the menu. Activists organized a last-minute protest outside the restaurant with graphic photos of ducks being force-fed through pipes.
Shortly after arriving, diner Alex Haus tweeted: "Go home foie gras protesters … I loooooove foie gras."
According to a tweet from Krissy Lefebvre, this was the first time protesters had shown up at a LudoBites event. Nevertheless, the activists shouting outside the restaurant didn't seem to deter people from ordering the infamous quesadilla.
"Wish I could have some brandade tacos and foie gras quesadilla for lunch today!" Diana Yang tweeted Thursday morning. "[It was] so wonderful last night."
In a tweet to Redondo Beach Patch, Holly Sarah Wong expressed a similar liking for the quesadilla. In fact, she said, her table ordered a second serving.
All in all, it seems as though the event was a success.
"Good night, Redondo Beach," Krissy Lefebvre tweeted at the end of the dinner. "[Thanks] for a hard, but special night at LudoBites!"
LudoBites America is set to premiere in mid-July on the Sundance Channel.