y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Le Comptoir Pop-up Dinner

Le Comptoir Pop-up Dinner

While we are on the vegetables as star of meal subject, with the Leif Hedendal post, there is another great example of this style of cooking.

My visit to Le Comptoir, months ago, was not my first experience with Chef Gary Menes' bold cuisine. I've enjoyed his food at Palate and Marché, both of which have since closed. He also is known for his stint at French Laundry, my dream dining destination.

The meal consisted of 5 courses set menu, with optional swaps for 3 of the courses for a supplemental fee.

He describes his food as "hyper seasonal" and indeed that fits the bill.  

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_csomething amusing farinette burata cherry tomatoes

amuse bouche - buratta, cherry tomatoes, farinette

A farinette is a savory pancake from the Auvergne province of France. All components combined into the perfect bite.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_b2 counter

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_b1 counter

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_b3 kitchen Chef Gary Menes

Le Comptoir is now in a new location, however, our meal there was at the whimsical Tiara Cafe setting in downtown L.A. 

The name, Le Comptoir is French for "the Counter", and that's how dinner is served - on about 12 counter seats with a great view of the kitchen action.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_d Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine cherry compote saba

first course (supplement) - hudson valley foie gras terrine, cherry compote, saba

Choosing supplements over the original mushroom course of veloute champignon de paris changes the direction of the meal a bit. My dining companion and I both chose the foie since the foie gras ban loomed in the not too distant future. Other than this, we did not choose any supplements.

The rich terrine balanced well with the sightly tart compote and the saba, an unconcentrated slightly sweet grape vinegar, thought of as tasting like carmelized grapes. I tried saba for thte first time at the Wolvesmouth underground dinner, in a stunning tomato salad which you can see at this post, if interested.

The presentation of this and all dishes impressed.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_e2 sunny side up egg young lettuce herbs jus vert

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_e3 sunny side up egg

second course - sunny side-up egg, young lettuce, herbs jus vert

Where to begin with this dish? I sat somewhat mesmerized just watching the technique and the care that went into this dish. It turned out to be one of the most decadent and tasty egg experiences I've ever experienced. And I do love eggs!

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_e4 sunny side up egg

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_e1 kitchen eggs 

Who wouldn't want a perfectly cooked egg in a blazing hot personal sized skillet? The egg generously browned with butter, came with a platter of interesting accompaniments - flower petals, baby lettuce, pepper, that can be added to personal taste.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_e5 sunny side up egg 

On top of that the server brought over a pitcher of sorrel herb jus to pour on top, which she said she forgot to bring earlier. The freshness of the greens with the creamy egg presented something new. You don't have to eat eggs only with toast. 

Frankly I'm happy I got to eat half the egg before the jus got poured over it. Although I loved the jus on its own, the strong herbal taste overpowered the egg just a bit. At least I would have liked to control the amount of jus myself.

I could gush about this dish the rest of the post, but let's move on.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_f1 veggie and fruit plate yam carrots pickled onion corn beets kohlrabi tangerine fava beans celery cauliflower broccoli lettuce carddons green beans
Click on photo to enlarge
third course - veggie & fruit plate

I heard this is the chef's signature dish. The humble name fails to capture the variety of flavors and textures bursting from the plate. They seemed to have been prepared in all different ways, reminding me of the Raymond's Salad of Forgotten Root Vegetables, which you can see here.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_f3 veggie and fruit plate

The plate featured yam, carrot, pickled onion, corn, beet, kohlrabi, tangerine, fava bean, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, celtuce lettuce (lettuce with celery-like stalk), carddon, green bean.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_g1 artichokes english peas spring onions sugar snaps pea tendrils jus d onion

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_g2 artichokes english peas spring onions sugar snaps pea tendrils jus d onion 

fourth course - artichokes, english peas, spring onions, sugar snaps, pea trendils, jus d'onion

The next course, wonderfully savory, also featured a gorgeous assortment of vegetables, particularly highlighting the peas - hearty and delicate at the same time.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_i chocolate cake orange chocolate sour cream graham cracker

fifth course - chocolate cake, orange, chocolate, sour cream, graham cracker

After eyeing the supplemental cheese plate from our neighbors, we opted for the dessert. I'd rarely turn down cheese instead of dessert, but wanted to taste how these flavors would combine. 

The impossibly rich chocolate was tempered well by the other ingredients. I enjoy a bit of savory in a dessert and thought the unsweetened sour cream proved to be a smart idea.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_h cheese plate

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_j coffee

My friend topped the meal off with the slow drip coffee, prepared by the Chef himself!

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_a2 decor 
Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_a3 decor Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_a4decor

Walking around the Tiara Cafe between courses, I enjoyed all the creative decor.

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe May12_k fresh asparagus iPhone bill payment

During the meal we got to chat with Chef Menes a bit, as he interacted with all the diners. It surprised me at the end when he came around to our side of the counter to have us pay our bill on his iPhone. Once again, a very smart way of containing overhead, which is the true nature of the pop up concept.

Reservations will open up again on September 10th. Check the site for details.

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