"It will be very, very intimate," Menes said of the 527-square-foot space that will house a counter (that's what Le Comptoir means) for only eight diners. The anticipated opening is March 2014.
Menes has spearheaded Le Comptoir, focusing on an all-vegetable tasting menu (with meat supplements), for more than two years in temporary spaces, starting at downtown's Cafe Tiara.
"It turned into a restaurant, something that Le Comptoir was not supposed to be," he said. "I left [restaurants] because of the lack of time, the constraints, and wanted something small with myself, one helper and a few people that knew what we were doing, to enable me to pursue the dream to create an experience and have the barrier not be cost but just be the number of seats."
Yeekai Lim, the architect who also owns Cognoscenti Coffee, will design the space. "I admired his coffee and himself and had no idea he was an architect," Menes said. "But he told me and said, 'If you have any projects, let me know.' He's my guy."
Menes said the intent is to keep it simple and very sleek, "none of the recycled stuff that everybody does but is very nice, but more Scandinavian where it's just soft whites, maybe baby blues, things that aren’t going to catch your eye but meld into the experience."
Of more importance to the chef are the food and the vessels. "I have a local craftsman who hand throws all of the plates, and we've been saving up for them."
Le Comptoir at the Hotel Normandie will be open five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, Menes said, with one seating on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and two seatings Thursday to Saturday. "This way we can give our diners a really nice experience. But not something too long. ... Angelenos have places to go even late at night.
"I don't want it to be a temple of cuisine, I want it to be fun."
Le Comptoir will run through the end of the year at its current location at the Wine Vault in Glendale. The six-course prix fixe is $62, and a wine pairing is available for $38. Supplements include hotate-muki scallops, Australian truffles and wagyu beef ($12 to $25). Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Le Comptoir at the Wine Vault, 929 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, reservations available online.