CHEF LUDO’S COOL CASUAL FRENCH BISTRO
One of my dining highlights last year was eating at Trois Mec, the fine dining restaurant from the team of Burgundy-born Chef Ludo Lefebvre of pop-up bistro LudoBites, and Animal’s Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, which is housed in a strip mall hidden in the former Raffallo's Pizza location, which still has its old signage in tact. When a spot became available in the same mini mall, the team opened Petit Trois in a former Thai restaurant space.
Billed as a more casual neighborhood French bistro, the menu is sparse yet full of flavor. While it’s pricier than what a true, neighborhood haunt should be, celebrity Chef Ludo can basically charge what he wants, well, because he’s celebrity Chef Ludo, and because his French cuisine is damn delicious.
Unlike Trois Mec, you don’t pre-pay for your meal—there is no ticketing service at Petit Trois, in fact they don’t even take reservations. First come, first served. They also don’t take cash at Petit Trois. The new, smaller space also has a cocktail program, which serves decent drinks, nothing that really wowed me, but it’s a nice option.
“I wanted Petit Trois to simply be a place anyone could drop in to at anytime,” Chef Ludo explains. “I wanted to be like all the French neighborhood bars I grew up with. You know your neighbors, there are lots of regulars, the cooks know your name and you get to meet fun, new people enjoying the space.”
It’s that casual setting, paired with serving fine French fare that made Petit Trois an immediate dining destination in town.
“Petit Trois is of course about food, but we also have a great cocktail program and while we hope you have a great time at Petit Trois, the service is more informal than Trois Mec, plus I like to think of it as an everyday restaurant,” Chef Ludo says. “Come when you want. We are open seven days a week from noon-11pm. No reservations needed or taken.”
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with a couple of cocktails, and then dove head first into French food fun. Definitely consider the escargot a must-have. You’re in a French restaurant for crying out loud, and Chef Ludo swears by these bad boys.
“I grew up eating escargot like they were M&M’s,” Chef Ludo recalls. “I could eat one hundred in a sitting. My grandmother always made the best ones and the escargot at Petit Trois are her recipe.”
Another menu favorite, which may sound surprising, is the Omelette, prepared with chives, Boursin cheese, Boston lettuce and Dijon vinaigrette. While eating an omelette may not be your idea of dining out, it is a French staple and it makes sense that Chef Ludo would serve one of the richest and tastiest omelette around.
Of course the Steak Frites served with onions soup sauce is a delicacy. Steak and fries, it doesn’t get more simple or more French, or in this case, more delicious. This one is a hearty crowd-pleaser.
If you want something a little different, if the omelette for lunch or dinner isn’t different enough, the Chicken Leg served with brioche butter, green salad and parsley is fantastic. Honestly, I had my doubts. How good can a chicken leg be? And I’m pretty much over ordering chicken when I dine out, but this chicken leg would make King Henry VIII proud (who needs turkey?). It is hearty, succulent and savory. Honestly, if you’re sharing plates go with the omelette and chicken leg, and save the Steak Frites for a second visit.
In this current celebrity, chef-driven dining days, where a new cooking contestant becomes an immediate flash in the pan, it’s nice to trust a venerable, proven chef—in Chef Ludo’s case, he judges and mentors the newbies on the cooking competition program The Taste. Taking over the Highland/Melrose corridor one strip mall space at a time, Chef Ludo and his Trois Mec and Petit Trois are redefining what the elevated dining experience is all about.
Petit Trois is located at 718 N. Highland. Open daily from 12pm to 11pm. An 18% service charge is added to every bill.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography courtesty of: Petit Trois