We had the opportunity to try out Chef Laurent Quenioux’s cooked dishes at his underground supper club “Ma Maison.” It’s a beautiful setting, relaxed, quiet and a chance to have a tasting menu prepared especially for that weekend, with seasonal ingredients fresh from his garden.
They started us with a complementary glass of 2014 Massican Winery “Annia” Napa Valley White Wine Blend:
Fruity, chilled, light minerality.
Butternut Squash Cremeux | Sea Bass Tartare | Baja Oyster | Caviar de Sologne:
This worked pretty well together. The Caviar and Sea Bass Tartare had a great balance of salinity and brininess, with a nice creamy quality. But eating a bite with the Butternet Squash Cremeux added an even more interesting lightly sweet component and all the flavors gelled nicely.
Bluefin Toro | Avocado | Tomato Emulsion from the Garden | Roasted Tomato Slaw | Pickled Cherry Plums:
This was ambitious, but just had too much going on. When you consider the delicate, lush quality of Fatty Tuna Belly (Toro), a great piece of Toro is best enjoyed by itself. But with the Tomato Emulsion, it added too much acidity, along with the Roasted Tomato Slaw and then the sharp, piquant Pickled Cherry Plums just overwhelmed this dish.
French Morning Melon | Cold Chicken Consomme Gelee | Salmon Roe (Ikura) | Tomato Pico | Jamon Iberico:
A great, classic French Consomme seems to be more and more uncommon in L.A. Clear, see-through Chicken Consomme is chilled into gelee form, and it is fragrant, delicate, pure Chicken flavor. The Salmon Roe is a great match; the Jamon Iberico is also a great pairing, and then eating all 3 of those elements with a bit of sweetness from the French Morning Melon is even better.
Columbia River King Salmon | Sweet Corn Veloute | Cauliflower Black Garlic “Cromesqui” | Black Summer Truffles | Cotija:
The Columbia River King Salmon was perfectly cooked; soft, delicate, with some nice fattiness inherent with King Salmon. But really it was the Sweet Corn Veloute that shined, made with home-grown Corn from Chef Laurent’s garden (just behind the table!). It was an almost nutty sweetness and fragrance, and the Black Summer Truffles Chef Laurent sourced were some of the best Black Truffles we’ve had this year. Extremely aromatic and really gorgeous. One of the best dishes of the evening!
Maine Lobster Sopes | English Peas | Chanterelles | Chipotle | Epazote | Mole:
These were some great ingredients, and the enjoyment of the dish depended on if you could get a mouthful of all of the ingredients together or not. The Sopes shell held up reasonably well, but it was a bit hard to eat: If you took a fork & knife to it, the Sopes broke apart and it was hard to get a bite of the Maine Lobster, English Peas (very sweet and fresh!), and the Chanterelles, along with with the Mole sauce.
Together it was pretty tasty, but if you got a bite with only some of the ingredients, it tasted like individual ingredients that didn’t really stand on their own.
Sauteed Hudson Valley Foie Gras |Cherries | Apricot and Peach Tatin | Zucchini from the Garden:
Foie Gras is a rather “easy win” at times for many places. Like Bacon or Pork Belly, just add some on a dish and it seems to earn bonus points with diners and (usually) adds a nice richness and happiness to a dish.
But then you have perfectly seared Foie Gras, lovingly prepped by a chef who just knows the ingredient to its very core, and how to draw out the best from it, and you end up with Chef Laurent’s Foie Gras this evening. It is everything you might expect Foie Gras to be - buttery, tender, airy in its delicateness - and more. Amazing Foie Gras, and when paired with the Cherry Gastrique, it adds another wonderful element to the dish.
When eaten with the Apricot and Peach Tatin, the dish changes yet again, but it’s all complementary and wonderful.
Best dish of the evening!
"Ris de Veau" | XO Roasted Shallots | Sorrel from the Garden & Watercress Emulsion:
I usually don’t eat Sweetbreads that much, but this was a very nice prep, with a nice caramelization on the outside, while still being soft on the inside.
Liberty Farm Duck Breast | Passion Fruit | Chards from the Garden | Porcini Raviolo:
Juicy, tender piece of Duck Breast, medium rare and full of flavor. The skin and fat were still very present, so for that type of preparation there were many that seemed to enjoy it, but I think I like things more rendered down like Confit de Canard. Still it was very flavorful, and the Porcini Raviolo was a nice little bite as well.
Cheese Plate (Selections by Chef Laurent) | Truffle Honey:
Much has been said about Chef Laurent’s amazing Cheese Cart (full of rare, hard-to-find unpasteurized Goat’s, Sheep’s and Cow’s Milk Cheeses from France).
Suffice to say tonight’s selection was pretty amazing, with my favorite being the luscious, soft Goat Cheese. It was pungent, but still very light, almost like a Brie.
But the other star this evening was the Truffle Honey. When you read “Truffle Honey” you might think of many restaurants around town that cheat and use synthetic Truffle Oil and splash some of that nastiness on burgers, in ketchup, in sauces, on top of eggs, etc.
Not with Chef Laurent’s Truffle Honey, which turns out to be literally Honey with massive quantities of actual Black Truffles mixed within!
It was so wonderfully pungent and enticing, that every single guest at the table commented how amazing the smell was, before it was even ladled onto the Cheese Plate! It was some serious, genuine Truffle magic.
Chocolate Tart | Matcha Short Bread | Lychee and Rose Gel | Saffron Orange Ice Cream:
The Saffron Orange Ice Cream was fantastic! Tasting of real Saffron spice and Orange citrus notes, it paired great with the Matcha Green Tea Short Bread crumbs.
The Chocolate Tart was infused with Orange as well, and was decadent and rich.
For a Pop-Up Dinner, personally catered by a great chef, in a quiet setting and very good service was something that gave this meal a more intimate, enjoyable feeling. You are literally dining in a beautiful setting in someone’s backyard, with a quiet soundtrack fluctuating between Downtempo / Chill and relaxing, calming Fusion Jazz.
Bistro LQ Pop-Up “Ma Maison” (and other events)
(See website for reservation times & dates):
It had been a while since we last visited Chef Laurent Quenioux, and it’s good to see he’s running his Bistro LQ Pop-Up every weekend now.
His Pop-Up Bistro LQ is held at his own personal home, dining in a beautiful, relaxing backyard (covered), with an eclectic soundtrack playing (anything from cool tribal to trip-hop and calming electronic jazz).
A pic of his garden where he grows much of what is later cooked up.
Bread Lounge Bread, Carre des Huiles Olive Oil:
Excellent Olive Oil. The Bread Lounge Bread was a touch stale though.
Moulard Duck Prosciutto (Housemade) | Chervil & Sorrel “Vichyssoise” | While Asparagus Spring Roll | Live Maine Diver Scallops | Apricot Lane Farms Nectarines Ceviche | Pickled Nasturtium Berries:
While billed as “6 Courses” the first course is an example of some of the generosity and creativity Chef Laurent has in store with each visit. This could easily be 3 courses in a Tasting Menu, but they are combined into 1.
The Housemade Duck Prosciutto stuffed with the White Asparagus Spring Roll was delicious. The Duck was meaty, a touch chewy (but not in a bad way, just with a lot of substance) and the White Asparagus was fantastic.
But the highlight was the Live Maine Diver Scallops: They were so fresh and bright! And the Nectarine Ceviche showed off the creativity and awareness of seasonal ingredients.
The Chervil & Sorrel Vichyssoise was herbal, creamy, but not heavy.
Soft Shell Crab | Confit Pork Belly | XO Glaze | Miso Fava Beans Emulsion | Chimichurri:
@PorkyBelly they serve a whole Soft Shell Crab here. Imagine perfectly fried (so light, not greasy), crunchy Soft Shell Crab, topped with Pork Belly Confit so you get that luscious unctuous quality with a Homemade “XO Glaze” which is lightly briny and matches the Soft Shell Crab flavors. But then you get a bit of the Fava Beans in a Miso Emulsion and a Homemade Chimichurri Sauce that is so addictive and wonderful.
Highlight of the evening!
Dover Sole | Black Sesame Nage | Corn & Squid Buchujeon | Spring Onions | Basil | Homemade Morcilla:
This was a bit all over the place. The Dover Sole itself was delicate and light, and perfectly cooked. But there was too little of it (in pieces). The Corn & Squid Buchujeon was a bit too dense (like a savory Corn Cake), just a touch, and it felt like it overpowered the Dover Sole. By itself, it was fine.
The Homemade Morcilla was delicious. I don’t normally like Black Pudding / Boudin Noir / Morcilla, but Chef Laurent’s version was quite light and delicate. He could serve just the Homemade Morcilla by itself as one dish, and Dover Sole as another dish and be better for it.
Escargot Petit Gris & Oxtail Ramen Style Noodles | Oxtail Broth | Porcini | Chanterelles | Herb Infused Quail Egg | Young Turnips | Chard from the Garden | Poached Foie Gras:
This was an interesting take on a cross-culture interpretation of Ramen. First, the Oxtail Broth was cooked over 7 hours, repeatedly removing fat and sediment from the Broth (Chef Laurent applying Consomme technique to Oxtail Soup). The result is a stunning, fantastic Oxtail Broth that is so clear and clean tasting (like a Consomme), but still having a nice beefy, crave-worthy taste from Oxtail. It was delicious!
The Mushrooms and Escargot were fine as well, providing some textural contrast and providing some interesting flavor variation.
But the flaw was the Ramen Noodles. It’s a cute idea, but the Ramen Noodles were a bit overcooked, and the whole dish combined was just different. Not bad, not great, but different. But give me a bowl of the Oxtail “Consomme” any day. It was so good!
Iberico De Bellota Loin | Rocoto Crepe | Black Garlic Emulsion | Heirloom Squash from our Garden Confit with Anchovies | Eggplant, Sweet Peppers from our Garden | Apricot Lane Farms Ronde de Nice:
This was a beautiful dish. Where you might normally think the meat might be the star, here, Chef Laurent shows off his versatility and skills: The Heirloom Squash Confit with Anchovies was stunning! Perfectly cooked, tender, but still having some toothsome qualities, it was refreshing, lightly briny and arguably the best part of the dish.
But that Iberico De Bellota Loin was pretty stellar as well: Perfectly cooked, juicy, tender, satisfying. Fantastic Pork Loin from Spain.
(Supplemental Course) Cheese Cart:
And it was time for Chef Laurent’s famous Non-Pasteurized Cheeses from France. As a supplemental course, you can choose however many of these magnificent Cheeses that you want, with this being our 2nd time trying this, I can see why @J_L and many others have praised this Cheese Cart. The Cheeses just taste better (having not been pasteurized): They are livelier, funkier and just more interesting.
Chef Laurent just received an “extra special” Époisses from France, and WOW! You could smell the funk as he was rolling out the cart! This was on Durian-level biohazard invasion of your olfactory senses. I tried a bit of this and have to say this moved very close to the Pure Evil level of Natto.
Chef Laurent picked some beautiful Cheeses for me. My favorite was a Corsican Sheep’s Milk Cheese that was so interesting, fragrant, gamy, but creamy and light!
Be sure to ask for some of the Truffle Honey, made with real Black Truffles (not the synthetic Truffle Oil badness). It’s insanely aromatic and really accentuates some of the cheeses.
Dessert: Violette Blanc-Manger | Apricot “Flora Gold,” Timut Peppercorn, Galabe Sugar | “Tropic Snow” Peach Sorbet | Meringue | Almond Sable:
The combined flavors were great: The Violette Blanc-Manger’s creaminess, which matched well with the Peach Sorbet along with the Apricot and even the hint of the Peppercorns was brilliant.
Service was excellent, given that it’s just 1 seating per night, the servers are focused only on 1 communal table and just the diners that evening. Drinks refilled, plates cleared and new settings placed in a timely manner. At $65 for a 6 Course Tasting Menu (and it’s more courses than that usually (see above)), we left totally stuffed (even without the Cheese Cart); it remains a nice value given the price.
The Bistro LQ Pop-Up remains a fun, relaxing way to spend a dinner experiencing the creativity from an excellent classically-trained French Chef. What makes Chef Laurent Quenioux’s offering standout is the constantly changing menu, his exploration into other cultures’ cuisine and the great Cheese Cart (which also changes every time we’ve been).
Bistro LQ Pop-Up - "Ma Maison"
(See website for reservation times & dates):
Catching up on meals from awhile back. 2nd-to-Last Supper before stay at home.
It had been too long since we had visited Chef Laurent Quenioux and his Underground / Pop-Up Supper Club series. They used to be held at his home, but recently, he’s been finding commercial kitchens to host.
Bread & Fennel Bordier Butter + Seaweed Bordier Butter (France):
Both of the French Butters were tasty, but the Fennel Bordier Butter was our favorite; beautiful herbal infusion.
2015 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon “Athanor”:
This Beaujolais wine initially felt a bit too young, but it opened up after a bit of time. It was more fruit forward, tasting of Cherries.
First of the White Asparagus from Europe (Chanterelles, Smoked Duck Breast, Ginger Vinaigrette):
Beautiful, just in season Poached White Asparagus from France. The Green Garlic, Dill and Chives were a great match. The Smoked Duck Breast was very good, offering a great counterpoint to the delicate White Asparagus without overwhelming, but the star of this dish might very well be the Chanterelles from the Pacific Northwest, sauteed with Green Onions.
The Chanterelles were incredible! Chef Laurent shows off his French culinary skills with this one morsel alone.
Poached Eggs Meurette in Red Wine (Lardons, Garlic Toast):
This might look rather basic, but it belies the greatness within: Taking a bite, this perfectly Poached Egg’s Yolk breaks open, adding a luscious creaminess to each bite. Mixed with the insane Red Wine Lardon Reduction - so deeply satisfying and mouth-watering, so full of flavor - and a bite from his Garlic Toast, and you have one of the Best Bites of 2020! (@J_L @PorkyBelly @Nemroz @A5KOBE @beefnoguy @Ns1 @TheCookie and others!)
Cassoulet (Tarbais Beans, Duck Leg Confit, Homemade Saucisse de Toulouse, Homemade Saucisson a L’ail, Confit Pork Belly, Lamb Shoulder Baked for Seven Hours):
I’ve had Cassoulet before, but never a Cassoulet like Chef Laurent’s at Bistro LQ. Every single component of this Cassoulet is masterfully executed:
First, the Duck Leg Confit has gorgeously crispy skin(!), there’s moist, succulent meat within, nicely seasoned. Better than most standalone Duck Leg Confit dishes around town right now.
Then you take a bite of the Homemade Saucisse de Toulouse and their Homemade Saucisson a L’ail, both Sausages were very different, one more zesty and savory with a nice casing snap, the other one more delicate with a great balance of Herbs.
Tender, fatty & lean Pork Belly, and then Lamb Shoulder that’s been baked for 7 hours(!) separately and then incorporated into the Cassoulet. It was meltingly tender, and distinct, but also blended nicely in the Cassoulet.
But at the heart of this Cassoulet are the Tarbais Beans, slow cooked all day in a Mirepoix, Homemade Chicken Stock and Duck Fat. They were earthy, creamy, but still retained sufficient texture. The whole dish and the Tarbais Beans especially were simply outstanding, and perfect for the chilly night!
Unpasteurized Cheeses (France):
At this point, it was time for Dessert, starting with Chef Laurent’s legendary Unpasteurized Cheese Cart, from France. For those that have never had it, these Imported Unpasteurized Cheese selections are incredible! There is so much more flavor, nuance, layers compared to the Pasteurized Cheese selections we get here locally. It’s eye-opening.
You can choose, 3, 5 or 7 (or more) Unpasteurized Cheese selections.
7 Cheeses + Truffle Honey:
While I’m generally not a fan of extra stinky Cheeses (I put them in the same category as Durian!), the selections here are fantastic. My favorites were the soft Cow’s Milk Cheese (similar to a Brie) - it was soft, silky, spreadable, but had more depth of flavor and nuance than most Brie Cheese; and an incredible Goat’s Milk Cheese (semi-hard). There was so much complex flavor in all of the Unpasteurized Cheeses they put to shame the Pasteurized Cheeses we have here. So good!
The Truffle Honey was also incredible, with Chef Laurent using real Black Truffles steeped in Honey (not some fake Truffle Oil gimmick).
Chicoree “Leroux” Coffee Ice Cream Profiterole (Praline and Chocolate Emulsion):
This was OK. All of the elements were great except the Choux, which was a bit too firm and dense, which took away from the enjoyment. The Chicoree Coffee Ice Cream was very good and I loved the Hot Chocolate Sauce poured on top.
Even though this meal happened before the lockdown, Chef Laurent was already being very cautious, with hand sanitizer and wipes available upon entering. There were only 12 of us, and every seat was spaced out about 3 feet from each other to our left and right, and across the table was about 5 feet or so. Normally Bistro LQ Pop-Ups are a bit pricier, but with their annual Cassoulet Dinner, it’s a bargain at $65(!) (Cheese Course additional).
Bistro LQ continues to be a delightful pop-up / underground supper club, featuring precise, and genuinely delicious cooking from Chef Laurent Quenioux. There is only 1 seating at any of his pop-ups, so there’s no rush, and you’re made to feel like you’re dining with close family or friends.
For this evening, all 3 savory dishes were fantastic, whether it was the in-season White Asparagus from France with the incredible Chanterelle Mushrooms, or the stunning Poached Eggs Meurette in Red Wine Lardon Reduction, or flat-out amazing Cassoulet, with every ingredient being a star, but meshing together (crispy Duck Leg Confit! 2 types of Housemade Sausages; the 7 Hour Baked Lamb Shoulder; and the Tarbais Beans in the Cassoulet itself).
We worry about if Bistro LQ can survive during this coronavirus pandemic and stay at home order. For now, Chef Laurent let us all know he was going to start offering dishes and items To-Go (via his website). He mentioned to us things like Cassoulet(!), Duck Confit, Fo(XX) Gr(XX), Soups, Sweets and other dishes.
In addition, he was debating if it might be possible to do Private Dinners, where he’ll come to your house and cook for your family(!). He has mobile kitchen equipment, so he was thinking about ways to set up and it would be just him and his Sous Chef cooking for your family, either at your home, or he’d open up his home (where his kitchen is isolated from the dining room). But if that doesn’t work, he’d be selling items To-Go and maybe trying Deliver options. See website and email below for more details.
Bistro LQ (Pop-Up Series)