A passion for French cuisine


In the game of bistro musical chairs, Bistro LQ moves into the old Mimosa space on Beverly Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue. French chef-owner Laurent Quenioux is no newcomer to L.A. It's been more than 20 years since the chef launched 7th Street Bistro downtown (well before there was any hint of a downtown renaissance). He closed it during subway construction, and after a stint as food and beverage director at Dodger Stadium, opened the charming little Bistro K in South Pasadena earlier this decade. Now, he's moved to Los Angeles, and this time he's got a bigger kitchen, which has got to make it easier to cook the complicated and often experimental fare that is his passion.

At Bistro K, I remember the odd experience of trying to eat sweetbreads from a giant martini glass. This time around, he's gone with more traditional presentations, reveling in intricate details and multifaceted French dishes.

He offers six- and nine-course tasting menus, which can be tailored to vegetarians too. Also, starters and mains come in either full or half portions, so guests have the option of creating their own mini or maxi tasting.

Quenioux has stripped away the romantic traditional trappings of Mimosa's French bistro decor, painted the yellow walls white, hung some abstract paintings. Voila: Bistro LQ. He could tone down the pretension too, at least in the way the servers discuss the menu. One thing for sure: This is not the place for a quick little dinner. Quenioux's food is elaborate and takes time to prepare.

So settle back, have some wine, and let the Quenioux-orchestrated festivities begin. You might start with barbecued frogs legs with violet chutney or smoked herring with warm potatoes and a fried egg on top, this last recommended. Not so much the trio of foie gras, though it's very generous. Neither foie gras with bitter chocolate nor liver sauteed and served with smoked eel worked for me. Still, it's fun to decipher why not.

I love that when it comes to meat, he offers "compositions," or sampler plates, of all the various parts. His lamb dish, for example, consists of the roasted chop, sauteed kidney and sweetbreads, poached tongue and shoulder confit, all delicious. Order squab and the bird arrives with duck heart and a pastry filled with duck gizzards too. There's baby goat stewed with guajillo chiles and presented with some tripe on the side. And for those looking for something more familiar, he's got a duck breast and hanger steak.

Intricate desserts are made a la minute, which is why the server insists they be ordered ahead of time. And, of course, a meal here comes with all the bells and whistles -- an amuse at the beginning (a chilled fennel soup garnished with a dab of olive oil ice cream) and mignardises at the end, which include adorable miniature macarons in luscious flavors.

Bistro LQ may not be for everybody, but for those who are already fans of Monsieur Quenioux's cooking, this is now the place you'll find him.




Bistro LQ

Where: 8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles

When: Open for dinner 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; desserts, cheeses served for one hour later. Valet parking.

Price: Starters, half portions $5 to $10, full portions, $9 to $18; main courses, half portions $12 to $16, full portions, $21 to $29; desserts, $8. Six-course tasting menu, $65 per person; nine-course menu, $85 per person; five-course dessert tasting menu (Friday and Saturday only), $30 per person.

Contact: (323) 951-1088; www.bistrolq.com.

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