I had just finished reading a blog entry by Gastronomy about the next incarnation of Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s LudoBites – the astonishingly popular “Pop Up Restaurant” that was debuting at Gram & Papa’s downtown. The blogger waxed poetic, and was clearly the #1 Fan in the Chef Ludo Fan Club. The descriptions were mouth-watering, the pictures were beautiful and, best of all, to the envy of bloggers all across the city, she got the post up first.
An hour later, I recieved a message on my Facebook page from a downtown blogger, Albert Domasin, inviting me to join his group for opening night at LudoBites. It took me about three seconds to respond: “HELL YES!”
The reservation was for 9:15pm. I arrived before the rest of the group and immediately noticed that an unusually large number of guests were bringing their own wine. At first, I assumed it was allowed, probably since the restaurant is really a gourmet sandwich shop that is only open for lunch service. As our group began to assemble, I finally brought myself to speak the dreaded words: “This is not BYOB, is it?” Oddly, no one else seemed particularly concerned by the idea, and no one (besides myself) seemed partiuclarly upset when we later heard from the hostess: “Yup. It’s BYOB.”
Although the others were unphased, I went into instant panic mode and set off on a texting rampage. If I was about to drop $100 on dinner, I was going to do so with a nice bottle of red. I texted everyone that I knew downtown. Nothing.
Of course, we were seated quickly, and I had no time to go shopping for anything in a red bottle (or a bottle with anything red in it)! I began my first dining experience at LudoBites gently sipping a nice glass of TAP WATER. OY.
As I am often tempted to do, I sent out an innocent little tweet. Actually, a couple of tweets. The first read “Holy Sh*t! LudoBites is BYOB?! Was THAT mentioned in the press?” And…what the heck, if you’re going to do something foolish, you should give it all you’ve got… I later tweeted a picture of a painting by Chef Ludo of a wine bottle that hung on the wall directly in front of me, along with the words “WARNING: the ONLY wine at LudoBites!” (The picture, by the way, recieved MANY responses on twitter…most laughing hysterically at my unfortunate situation.)
Ten minutes later, the lovely blonde working the room arrives at our table and says “You know, that’s not the only bottle of wine in the restaurant.” I immediately assumed that we had misunderstood the whole BYOB thing, and lept at the chance to order of bottle of wine.
Not a chance.
The lovely blonde then says “You must be Dan?”
“Yesssssss,” I offer, a bit nervously.
Turns out, the lovely blonde working the room is Krissy Lefebvre, wife of chef Ludo, and she WAS IN THE BACKROOM READING EVERYONE’S TWEETS. IN REAL TIME.
Fortunately, Krissy and Ludo laughed along with us. Turns out, we were the only guests in the room that didn’t read about the BYOB. (In our defense, the blogger tasting the night before WAS paired with wines from Domaine LA, and Gastronomy had not mentioned the BYOB, although it was clearly plastered all over their website.)
As we drove home, we did speak of the food, but mostly we laughed – hysterically, actually – at my being BUSTED! on twitter. By the chef’s wife. While still in the restaurant!
LudoBites 4.0 sold out two solid months in eighteen hours. It is a brilliant idea by an extraordinarily talented chef. If you didn’t get a reservation, act a little bit quicker when they announce 5.0, or do as I did and take advantage of someone else’s reservation generosity. I’ll leave the breathless descriptions and the crystal clear photography to the hundreds of bloggers that will be attending over the coming weeks. You’ll likely be hard pressed to miss them.
Thanks for your hospitality @FrenchChefWife!