Battle fried chicken: Ludo v. Greenspan

Allez cuisine!

That’s kind of how I pictured the special appearance of Ludovic Lefebvre at The Foundry on Melrose‘s Bluesy Tuesday Southern food night last week — a battle of Iron Chefs duking it out over gourmet fried chicken, Ludo v. The Foundry’s Eric Greenspan, who was in fact a contestant on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. What we diners got was more of a delicious pairing of two very different styles of fried chicken that complemented each other rather than threw down against each other. Though both Ludo and Greenspan brought it, as they say…in the parlance of our times.

I figured I better not wait much longer to get this post up since I was outed by Jonathan Gold in L.A. Weekly’s Squid Ink blog. I decided to go to this dinner the night before at the behest of Esther of e*starLA, and I’m glad that I did. Esther and I were the first people at the restaurant, arriving at a punctual, if not a tad early, 5:50 p.m. for our 6:00 p.m. reservation. No matter; Krissy Lefebvre, Ludo’s devoted wife and partner in crime, entertained us while the restaurant prepared our table.

The meal started with an amuse bouche of sweet brioche topped with tomato confit, parmesan cheese and parsley. Yum. Then we were given a shooter of Ludo’s chilled chorizo soup with a float of iced cornichon, which was left over from Sunday’s Gold Standard event. Wow.

Tomato brioche amuse bouche

We ordered a grilled cheese sandwich ($9) made with raisin walnut bread, Taleggio cheese, apricot-caper puree and arugula. We added short rib, too (extra $3). Delicious.

Grilled cheese sandwich

Then came the main event — the fried chicken. A $6 duo of LFC (Ludo Fried Chicken) served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce, and Greenspan’s buttermilk fried chicken served with a goat cheese and tarragon waffle and a side of maple syrup. Yes, I said goat cheese and tarragon waffle. (Bluesy Tuesday fried chicken is normally sold for $4 per piece.)

Ludo fried chicken (left), Foundry/Greenspan's fried chicken (right)

The two kinds of chicken were so different that it’s really not a fair comparison to pit them directly against one another. On one hand, there’s Ludo’s chicken fashioned into boneless orbs and dusted liberally with rosemary. In true Ludo style, it’s a very interesting take on fried chicken, one that I had a brief encounter with at the L.A. Street Food Festival. I was glad to have a proper piece at The Foundry because I had only tasted it before. The sauce it came with was really great, too.

On the other hand, Greenspan’s buttermilk version is more traditional, though this doesn’t mean it’s boring. It’s juicy and infinitely satisfying. And the goat cheese and tarragon waffle was a perfect balance between sweet and savory. I enjoyed both versions of fried chicken immensely.

We also ordered fried green tomatoes ($5) to accompany our Southern meal. They came topped with watermelon, blue cheese and arugula. This was probably my least favorite dish of the night. I’m not a big tomato person, so I’m not sure why I thought ordering this was a good idea. It wasn’t bad, just not my cup of tea. I did enjoy the mini biscuits that came with herbed butter, though.

Fried green tomatoes

The Foundry’s Kentucky Trollope cocktail made with bourbon, pineapple, ginger and citrus was a great pairing with the meal and wasn’t too sweet, despite the pineapple. Bourbon and Southern food? Obviously. And the $8 price tag is easy on the wallet!

Kentucky Trollope (Hey, what did you call me?!)

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Maya Meinert

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03 2010

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