Okay, so I may have been sitting on a few Los Angeles posts for you all while I wrote about my travels over the Summer. For my last meal out in Los Angeles this past trip, there was only one restaurant I was ever going to consider. Ever since it first opened back when I was living in the city, Trois Mec headed up by the chef that all people who really know about food have heard of, Ludo Lefebvre has been probably the one restaurant I wanted to eat in the most. Okay, so while I still did not manage to get a ticket for dinner, they've opened up a little bistro next door. Still one of the hardest places to get into in Los Angeles, a small, no reservations eatery in Hollywood is just about doable if you've got enough patience and you don't mind waiting around a bit.
Petit Trois is located right next to the famed Trois Mec in the same, almost middle of nowhere interesting strip mall in West Hollywood. It is a bit more signposted than the next door restaurant (it is under the old pizza joint signage) as it has a proper shop front, but they've kept the sign denoting that it used to be a generic Thai restaurant. In order to get somewhere to sit, I arrived at the restaurant half an hour early and sat on the bench outside with a book. It is a mark of the places cult following and place in L.A. restaurant folklore that I was not the only one who was employing this (successful) tactic.
I kicked things off with a very nice (albiet pricy, $15 a glass) glass of French white wine, some salted butter and some freshly baked bread. Now, I know that this is America, but in a city where it is hard to find good quality baked bread without going to a specialist bakery, you'd think when you go to a restaurant that prides itself on classic French bistro dishes the bread they bake would be a classic French baguette, rather than sourdough, right? It was perfectly serviceable bread, but the next time I'm at my parents French house I'm going to walk into a local bakery and ask for sourdough, and see what reaction I'll get!
The dish I'd heard about the most at Petite Trois and I had already decided that I was going to order before I even arrived was the escargot. With a beautiful flavour and simply swimming in garlic butter, they're one of the best plates of snails I've had in a very long time. I know they're not for everyone, but if you've never had one while I would not necessarily recommend ordering a whole plate as Petite Trois is reasonably expensive compared to other L.A. eateries (this dish was $18), if someone else in your party is ordering them, they're a great version to beg a try and get a real idea of how snails should be.
I have to admit to being a little disappointed with my main course, the Confit-fried Chicken Leg with brioche butter and frisee salad. Sure it looks impressive, and sounds like it would be totally delicious, but the chicken was a bit too oily and rather unmemorable. The salad was far too dressed which made it hard to work through, with I think actually sums up the whole dish. A real, real shame. Any number of my local, family run joints in France could have done a better job, for a fraction of the price.
For dessert I deliberated over the menu for a while. I could have had the chocolate mousse that sounded nice, but I am perfectly capable of making a good classic French version myself at home, and during the Winter months I often do. Another option I could have ordered was the Ile Flottante (a floating island of soft meringue in a creme anglaise with praline), but at this point I was a bit sceptical about paying $11 for something that costs pennies to produce. So, I opted for the Napoleon with Tahitian vanilla cream. It looked incredible, tasted great and I'm no pastry chef. However, once I got past the quarter way point, it became far too sickly and far too much of one flavour.
I know I don't usually don't mention price at all in my reviews unless something is particularly good value, but at Petit Trois the price I paid for what food I got really got to me. I paid a similar sum for my lunch at Son of a Gun in West Hollywood (incidentally which shares some owners with Petite Trois and Trois Mec), but as the food was flawless and special, and I could not fault anything else in the restaurant from the atmosphere to the easy to get to location and the service, I thought that it was money well spent. However, I honestly don't think the bumped up prices because the restaurant is run by a celebrity chef, along with the credit card only rule and the 18%, non-negotiable added service charge, on top of the fact the place is tiny and you can't book, honestly makes you as a diner feel that the restaurant cares more about taking your money than serving you up a good meal.
The meal also left me feeling quite sick, and this is coming from someone who is used to eating a lot of rich French food; I ended up going back to my room at The Line and napping for a bit, then ordering a peppermint tea from room service to settle my stomach.
I know I don't usually write negative reviews on the blog, but I felt that because Petit Trois is so well known, not just in Los Angeles but across the foodie restaurant world I wanted to write about what my meal was like, because it is a lot of money to spend on what is supposed to be a pretty special, perhaps once in a trip dining experience when the restaurant might not necessarily live up to all the hype, like it didn't for me. I'd be interested to hear if any of you have eaten at either Petit Trois or Trois Mec, and what your dining experiences were like?