A French Culinary Review: What Is The Trois Mec?

Trois Mec Reviews

Trois Mec is a French restaurant opened by “three guys,” the loose translation of the restaurant’s French name. Founded by French chef Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre and business partners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the restaurant opened in 2013 in a former pizza parlor in a strip mall. The restaurant still uses that pizza place’s sign, “Raffalo’s Pizza,” over the door on the outside to note that the experience is unpretentious, though you’ll find fine dining inside.

The restaurant received praise in its first year as the best new restaurant in Los Angeles by LA Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine. The late food critic for the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Gold, included Trois Mec in his annual Top 101 Restaurants list, and Food & Wine has also recognized Trois Mec for its dishes. Chef Lefebvre received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award from his native France for his achievements in 2015.

trois mec

Born in Burgundy, France, Lefebvre trained under chefs Marc Meneau, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Passard and Guy Martin in France. After 12 years of formal training, learning both the cuisine and business sides of the restaurant industry, Lefebvre moved to Los Angeles, California in 1996 to work at L’Orangerie, becoming its executive chef after a year and helping it become one of California’s top-rated restaurants. In 2004, he moved to Bastide but left the restaurant when it closed for renovations.

From 2007 onward, Lefebvre became one of the first chefs to start the trend of pop-up restaurants, which were special event dining experiences held in restaurants outside of normal operating hours. LudoBites became extremely popular, and Lefebvre held nine three-month-long runs of this pop-up restaurant over a six-year period. The chef also launched a fried chicken food truck, which was known as LudoTruck, and has since opened two brick-and-mortar locations of this concept, called LudoBird. Lefebvre introduced the idea that a chef did not necessarily need a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

vegetables and spices

Chef Lefebvre is said to be at the forefront of modern Los Angeles fine dining. To open Trois Mec, he partnered with his chef friends Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who became instant friends while attending culinary school in Florida. They have since founded several restaurants together, such as Animal, Jon and Vinny’s, and Son of a Gun. Shook and Dotolo are known for their nose-to-tail food and unpretentious but ambitious small-plate dining style. With Lefebvre, the trio has also opened Petit Trois, a so-called “bar a la carte” restaurant concept, and Trois Familia, a café serving a fusion of French and Mexican cuisines.

Trois Mec is an extension of the LudoBites meals, where the chef seeks to redefine and reinterpret fine dining. One of the restaurant’s missions is to provide good service and hospitality without being stuffy. The atmosphere is casual, with no white tablecloths, which are usually the sign of formality. The service provided is intended to be attentive but not intimidating. The food, however, is not casual. Diners receive elegant and delicious dishes, and none of them are small. The restaurant space itself is small, holding only 24 seats but allowing each table a full view of its open kitchen with the help of a mirrored wall. There is also counter seating, which is usually for parties of two or for those who want to witness the cooking action. The space is candlelit, and the floors are white marble for quiet elegance.

Restaurant Information

tomatoes
Name
Trois Mec
Location
Los Angeles, California, United States
Chef
Ludo Lefebvre
Cuisine

grilled aubergine with Iberico ham, honey, and melon; grilled beef belly with abalone mushroom and herb jus; potato pulp with brown butter, onion soubise, Salers cheese, and bonito; Carolina gold rice pudding with brown butter and emulsified egg yolk

Address
716 Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90038, United States
Phone
(323) 484-8588
Website
Dress code
None

Pricing

The restaurant offers only one five-course set menu each night. The menu constantly changes, depending on the availability and the seasonality of the ingredients. The only modification to the menu allowed is the request of a vegetarian menu. The cost is $110, excluding tax and service charge. Two wine pairings, Classic and Reserve, are also offered, along with a non-alcoholic pairing. There is also a full wine list, and the restaurant’s service team can assist with beverage choices once your party has arrived.

Details

Reservations for the restaurant can be made directly on Trois Mec’s website, through the Resy website or by calling the restaurant directly. You can also contact Kat Stell, the reservationist, at Kat@troismec.com or Matt Brodbine, the general manager, at Matthew@troismec.com. Reservations are available for parties between two and six people. They go through a ticketing system, where you note the number of people in the party, select a date and time, and then pay for the reservation with a credit card. There are no refunds or cancellations allowed, and all sales are final. Tickets may be transferred to someone else if you are unable to use them. Reservations open up, or are released, online on the first Friday of the month for dates in the following month. For example, to get a reservation in October, one will need to visit the restaurant’s website on the first Friday in September. This restaurant is one of the most notoriously difficult places to book in Los Angeles. You are expected to arrive for your reservation on time, or else the meal will proceed without you.

The restaurant is open for dinner every Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to close. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

How It Compares

Here is some information about some comparable French restaurants in the Los Angeles area and how they compare.

Name
Petit Trois
Location
Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks, California
Chef
Ludo Lefebvre
Cuisine
French bistro
Signature Dishes

Omelet and eggs meurette for breakfast, salads and shrimp cocktails for lunch, beef bourguignon and confit duck legs for dinner

Price

Ranges between $31 and 60 per person. Appetizers range from $6 to $25, entrees between $15 and $38, sides are $6 to $10, and desserts cost $9 to $14.

Rating

Petit Trois

Image source: .hauteliving.com

The original Petit Trois opened in 2014 next door to Trois Mec, with a second location recently opened in Sherman Oaks, California, where the chef and his family live. Petit Trois does not take reservations and is open for lunch and dinner daily. The Sherman Oaks location is open for breakfast as well. The food is Parisian style, with the idea that classical French bistro dishes taste best with cocktails or wine. It is a cozier, less expensive alternative to Trois Mec.


Name
Republique
Location
Los Angeles, California
Chef
Walter and Margarita Manzke
Cuisine
French with American and Asian influences
Signature Dishes

Charcuterie, Meyer lemon tart, breads, pastries, duck liver mousse, escargots en Croute, white salad, pumpkin agnolotti, prairie prime pork chop and belly

Price
$50 and over, per person
Rating

Republique

Image source: .laweekly.com

Walter and Margarita Manzke met while they were working for the acclaimed restaurant Patina in Los Angeles. Margarita further honed her culinary skills at two-star Michelin restaurant Melisse, and the two opened three restaurants in the Carmel area before returning to Los Angeles with stints at Bastide Restaurant and Church & State. Republique opened in 2013 in a building that was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1928 and was previously used by the renowned restaurant Campanile and its bakery, La Brea Bakery. Margarita continues the bread tradition, and as a skilled pastry chef, creates everything from croissants to tarts. Walter’s savory food uses quality ingredients presented with simplicity and creativity. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Name
Melisse
Location
Santa Monica, California
Chef
Josiah Citrin
Cuisine
French with American influences
Signature Dishes

Maine diver scallops with black truffle coulis, venison with foie gras and porcini mushrooms, sticky toffee date pudding, “Egg Caviar,” a soft-poached egg in an egg shell with lemon crème fraiche and American Osetra caviar

Price
Starts at $145 per person for a tasting menu
Rating

Melisse

Image source: .la.eater.com

Melisse is a two-star Michelin restaurant founded by chef Josiah Citrin in 1999. Citrin is a Southern California native who worked in Parisian restaurants for three years before returning to Los Angeles to work at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main and Granita. After working at Joachim Splichal’s Patina and other restaurants, Citrin opened Melisse, which has been critically acclaimed by various food and travel publications. Open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, this restaurant is the paragon of fine dining, with servers in suits and crisp white tablecloths. The chef is known for selecting quality seasonal ingredients.


Pros and Cons

Trois Mec is a restaurant where you go to eat Chef Lefebvre’s food, not because you wanted to eat something specific. Though it is an expensive restaurant, critics say that the restaurant’s prices are low, especially when compared to similar restaurants in New York or Paris. It is best described as casual fine-dining, receiving elegant dishes as though you were eating in one’s kitchen. Trois Mec avoids tradition as much as possible, starting with the idea that Lefebvre, a world-class chef, is cooking in a humble space, a trend that has grown in Paris in recent years. There is more French technique and influence in the dishes than with Lefebvre’s more experimental dishes from LudoBites.

Pros

  • Valet parking service available
  • Music level is not too loud
  • Innovative ingredient combinations
  • Consistently good food quality
  • Beautiful food presentations
  • Good service
  • Creative dishes
  • Additional courses may be added
  • Pleasant experience

Cons

  • Most wine is sold by the bottle, with very few options by the glass
  • Expensive wine prices
  • Expect to sit very close to neighbors because of small restaurant size
  • Overall noise level could be very loud
  • Some have mentioned that the meal is not memorable in relation to the price paid
  • Limited to one prix fixe meal with no choices allowed unless diner is vegetarian
  • Some food combinations do not necessarily work well
  • Reservations difficult to secure
  • Restaurant difficult to find unless you remember to look for “Raffalo’s Pizza”

One of Trois Mec’s signature dishes is a plate called “potato pulp,” which has brown butter, bonito, Salers cheese and onion. It is known for being both delicious and rich. Critics and average diners alike praise Lefebvre highly for his use of vegetables, which are well-presented. A barbecued carrot dish with avocado, orange, yogurt, curry and watercress is very popular. Lefebvre aims for simplicity and creativity, managing to hit diners’ palates with flavors at as many levels as possible.

Some detractors don’t like being forced to pay for their meals in advance. Because you are essentially having the chef decide what you are eating, this restaurant is not a good choice for people who like to plan every aspect of their own meals. It’s a poor choice for vegans as the chef uses high amounts of butter. Some find the ingredient combinations too odd, such as a potato crisp with kiwi fruit, avocado and matcha green tea, or unbalanced, as a commenter said about too much vinegar in a dashi vinaigrette for striped bass sashimi. Another reviewer mentioned excessive squid ink on a duck dish with eggplant. In the case of a lamb and smoked eel dish, it was both. A number of diners have found the experience underwhelming, whether it was a lobster dish or the service. Despite these flaws, the restaurant has remained wildly popular and in demand and continues to be highly recognized as one of the best.

Final Thoughts: Our Rating

Trois Mec has continued to be innovative, yet touches upon traditions while simultaneously bending them. It has received rave reviews from notable food critics and publications since its opening in 2013. Chef Ludo Lefebvre has been nominated for several James Beard awards in recent years, and his partners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have received James Beard awards for one of their own restaurants. Their partnership has been successful, leading to two more restaurants. There may be some inconsistencies and not all culinary experiments are successful, but diners should visit the restaurant with the mindset that they will eat what the chef wishes to serve them.

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