Escargot, To Go: Ludo Lefebvre Dishes on the New Petit Trois

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Harlem EatUp!
The family-friendly Sherman Oaks location, set to open in September, will be a bigger version of Lefebvre’s Hollywood bistro.

You know L.A. food is having a moment when you go to a Hollywood dinner showcasing an $850 Champagne and end up having a conversation about how the Valley is fantastic.

Welcome to chef Ludo Lefebvre’s world.

Lefebvre was at Trois Mec on Tuesday, cooking a dinner paired with Armand de Brignac Champagne. It was a celebration for Armand de Brignac Blanc de Noirs A2, a 2,333-bottle release that combines three vintages from 10 vineyards in five Pinot Noir-producing villages of Champagne.

Even before the buzz kicked in from drinking several releases of the Jay Z-owned Armand de Brignac, often referred to as “Ace of Spades,” questions swirled through my head about Lefebvre’s new Petit Trois location. The chef was ready with answers.

What’s going on with the new Sherman Oaks location of Petit Trois?

“The good news about Sherman Oaks is we started construction, finally, after nine months,” says Lefebvre, who’s aiming to open the Ventura Boulevard restaurant in September. “It was a long process to design the restaurant, get permits and hire the contractors, designers and architects.”

And this was after Lefebvre spent about two years looking for a location in the Valley, where he lives with his family. While others encouraged him to open in areas like Beverly Hills, Lefebvre remained focused.

“I’m so happy about Petit Trois in the Valley,” he says. “It’s my baby.”

What will the food and experience be like at the new Petit Trois?

This is a larger and grander version of Lefebvre’s 21-seat Hollywood bistro. He will have 70 seats and a bigger menu. There will be “more French dishes, more stews [and] prime ribs,” along with Petit Trois’ popular burger and omelet.

“I want to bring back an old-school cart of dessert,” he says. “In France, you go to a classic restaurant, and the waiter comes with a big cart with cake.”

“Classic” will be a theme. Lefebvre is considering carving stations, flambés and Dover sole that’s filleted tableside.

“I want the waiters to be dressed in black and white, very old-school—a jacket and white shirt,” he says.

But this is a neighborhood bistro, so customers can come as they are and feel free to show up for just a snack or dessert.

“Do whatever you want; it’s open all day,” he says. “Just have dessert or tea if you want. I want to create a place where life is happening.”

Lefebvre loves those nights at Petit Trois in Hollywood when the room is buzzing, some guests are speaking French and he feels like he’s in Paris. He wants to create a bigger version of this experience in Sherman Oaks, where he’ll serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I’ll try to stay open until 11, maybe 12, on the weekends,” he says. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m very, very excited to be in Sherman Oaks. I live over there. I’m so happy to do a very classic French restaurant there.”

We’re talking about the Valley, so I assume Petit Trois will be family-friendly?

“Yes, of course,” says Lefebvre, who is the father of twins. In France, kids eat at bistros all the time, he adds.

“Everything is really for children, too: omelets, chicken and potatoes, burgers, easy food,” he says. “I hope children aren’t going to disrupt my restaurant, but whatever.”

Being in a neighborhood full of busy families means that Lefebvre also wants to focus on to-go food like whole-roasted chickens.

“I want to do an onion soup to go,” he says. “You put your cheese on top and finish it in your oven. Escargot to go, too. Why not?”

How far does Lefebvre live from the new location of Petit Trois?

About two and a half miles. You might see him riding his bike along Ventura Boulevard on his way to work.

What does Lefebvre think about Armand de Brignac Champagne?

“It’s great,” he says. “It’s very crisp. It’s French, of course. It’s always very refreshing. I love it because the bubbles, I would say, are not too aggressive.”

What do you pair with the new $850 Blanc De Noirs?

Stinky cheese! Lefebvre served an intense Fourme d’Ambert torte with a red-wine poached pear. Armand de Brignac winemaker Emilien Boutillat also suggests pairing it with fowl, lamb and mushrooms. Deep and earthy flavors go well with crisp Champagne.

What does Lefebvre, who plays French hip-hop at Trois Mec, think of Jay Z?

“Jay Z’s good; he’s the king of hip hop,” Lefebvre says. “It’s cool to have Jay Z supporting small-production Champagne.” He considers for a moment playing some Jay Z on the speakers but decides to go back and focus on the food in the kitchen.

What percentage of the Ace of Spades at nightclubs Is consumed, and what percentage is sprayed into crowds?

Lefebvre is not the guy to ask.

“I don’t know when was the last time I went to a nightclub,” he says. “Do you go to nightclubs?”

I tell him I also have children and understand what he’s saying.

“Thank you,” he says. “When I’m off, it’s my kids, and that’s about it. But when I go out with some chef, it’s good to have some Champagne. A good Champagne like this is easy to drink without getting drunk. You don’t have a headache the next day.”

We bet this makes riding your bike to work a lot easier.

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