Trois Mec, aka, a Hollywood Dining Disaster
I typically don’t focus on bad food or restaurants, especially after one visit, but after a recent experience, I’m breaking my fucking rule. When horrible food meets crappy service, bizarre wine pairings, mismatched music, and—the final kick to the groin— 3 Star Michelin prices—a one-star Yelp review just doesn’t do the trick. I want to put up a neon billboard that screams, “THIS PLACE SUCKS!”
Before I go any further I would like to say that I am sympathetic to how hard chefs and their staffs work. The restaurant business is a brutal profession. However, when a restaurant of this stature shits the bed, people are going to notice, and did I ever.
Last month, we went to a Jonathan Gold, Zagat-annointed restaurant, Trois Mec, for a “SPECIAL” six-course meal. The restaurant is run by Ludo Lefebre, a French Chef who moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago and is most well-known for his pop-up restaurant, Ludo Bites. In 2010, Ludo Bites was the first restaurant to crash OpenTable.com’s online reservation system with the deluge of reservation requests, so that tells you something about his past success. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Trois Mec is located in a strip mall, south of Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. The interesting thing about this place is that they left a huge sign above the restaurant from the previous tenant—a pizza place—as a joke. This place is a joke alright, but I’m guessing not in the way they’d imagined.
How do I start? Where do I start? I’ve had good meals; I’ve had sublime meals; I’ve had mediocre meals; and I’ve had baaad meals. This was a baaaaaad meal—indeed, the worst meal I’ve have ever had. The restaurant has two seating’s per night. We chose the first one: 6:00 p.m. When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was the 80s music, blasting so loud you couldn’t hear your waiter or your date across the table. This was supposed to be a French bistro, not a Hooters, and it was an omen for what was to come. I also noticed that the head chef wasn’t cooking that night, which is typical of some successful restaurants.
Trois Mec is a French bistro, and as we took our seats, the first course was already at the table: local vegetables with an aioli, which tasted like plain mayonnaise. The menu was prix fixe and we ordered the wine pairing with our six-course meal. Then the second course came out, and it’s more of the same: raw vegetables and bread—eggplant, peanuts, cut beets, cut pickles, Romanesco, celery, and grilled onions. As I scanned the table, two things occurred to me: first, how in the fuck do you eat this, and second, another course of vegetables and we only have four courses left? I just scratched my head. At these prices—$100 per person before the $80 per person wine pairing—caviar and Wagyu beef had better be coming out next.
The waiter came back with our first wine, a sparking Chenin Blanc. I ask (yell at him) how to eat what was sitting on the table. He said, “Oh just mix and match everything.” I looked up at him, baffled by the lack of direction; am I supposed to create a Vegetable Panini or a Romanesco Salad, dumb ass? It was like they gave us a pile of mismatched Lego sets and said,” build something—good luck!”
After we were done fumbling with our second course, the waiter arrived with a Tuna Tartare and dropped it on the table, took our dirty dishes, and pushed our dirty silverware back on the table so we could reuse it. I looked at Lauren in disbelief. They expect us to reuse our dirty silverware? What kind of freakin’ greasy spoon is this? We wiped our dirty forks off with our napkins and scooped up some of the tuna. I looked around trying to find something to eat it with. Ever had tuna tartare without cracker, chip or crostini? Me neither. I guess we were supposed to eat it straight?
I took a bite of the tuna and almost spit it up. It was completely over salted, and they’d added diced, salty, tangy pickles. You couldn’t even taste the tuna (maybe that was the point). Do you know what a ton of salt tastes like with a tangy pickle? Shit, that’s what. Imagine a vinegar shot with a salted rim, tequila style. Downright disgusting. The plate reminded me of my mom’s old mayonnaise-based tuna fish sandwich, but hers was in a completely different class.
After that first bite, we threw our forks down, and I started getting mad. What the fuck are these guys doing? Is this some kind of psychology experiment where they purposely fuck up the meal and see if people will still eat it? The waiter showed up at our table and set down a terrine of tomato-based cod soup, with a crostini on top and a side of aioli. Aioli and tomato soup? What the fuck?! He proceeded to drop bowls on the table for the soup and started walking away. I screamed at the guy, trying to get his attention as a Madonna song, “Vogue,” started blaring. I started laughing. Fuck yes, I want to strike a pose … with two of my middle fingers … strike a pose, FUCK YOU! As the waiter turned and came back to the table, I said, “take the tuna and our old plates and get us new silverware please.” He nodded and grabbed everything. I looked at Lauren across the table cross-eyed. These guys can’t be serious.
The waiter came back with our next wine, an orange Muscat. Again, two things occurred to me: first, how in the fuck does an orange Muscat wine pair with tomato cod soup? (answer: it doesn’t!) Acidic Tomato soup and a tart acidic wine – Wine 101 wine pairing – Grade – F! Second, the cost of the first two wines up to this point was about $8, and they were charging $80 for a wine pairing of four wines. Orange Muscat is as esoteric as you can get, and both of the first two wines they served were extremely affordable. As we took a bite of the cod soup, we noticed a distinct lack of actual cod. It was cod flavored tomato soup. Wow, cutting some corners to save cash, are we? We tried the aioli, not knowing what else to do with it and, again, salt city. Here Ludo, we’ll bend over so you can fuck us some more.
As we sat there scratching our heads in the midst of this still unfolding dining disaster, I kid you not, Third Eye Blind’s song, “Charmed Life” came on, even louder than the other ones, and all we could hear was the blaring chorus, “I want something else … to get me through this …” We both cracked up so loud that other people were looking at us, before our voices were drowned out by the deafening volume of the music. Damned if that lyric didn’t sum up our night so far!
The sonic overload continued as the most fucked up, disjointed dish so far was served. First, a small bowl of Risotto landed on the table, followed by a waiter asking if we wanted white truffles shaved on it. I said sure, and he said, “one gram or two?” “One.” He shaved it into the Risotto and then proceeded to tell me that it would be an extra $40. What? How about some disclosure prior to dumping a bigger bill on us, dude? WTF! As I shook my head in dismay, looking at Lauren, I snapped up my fork and we dug in. One taste and we both just looked at each other in disgust, it tasted like someone purposely dumped lime juice into the risotto, tangy, acidic and matched with the savory truffle, absolutely disgusting—couldn’t eat it. Fork hit table for the third time; this was really getting out of hand.
The waiter arrived back at the table announcing that our main dish had arrived. A beautiful Le Creuset cast iron pot hit the table, and as the lid came off, a heavenly aroma of lamb chops, rosemary, and thyme hit me. Nice, OK, finally, this is going to be good. The waiter then dropped a plate of lamb ragu and a bowl of Italian marinara sauce next to it. I just sat there for a second, staring off into space. What in the fuck is this? The waiter returned again with a glass of Syrah, and again I asked myself, how in the hell do you transition between an orange Muscat to a Syrah? You don’t! You can’t! It doesn’t work! Wine pairings are supposed to transition slowly between whites and reds. This transition was like running as fast as you can and trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.
Again, dumbfounded, looking at the wine and food on our table, we asked the waiter what goes with what. We have tangy risotto, lamb chops, lamb ragu and marinara sauce. He said, “oh, the risotto doesn’t go with any of this.” Well why in fuck did you just drop the Lamb right after you dropped the risotto? Why not just drop all six courses on the table at once and just say, “go for it”? I asked him again, how are we supposed to eat this? He said oh just mix and match. Lamb Ragu on lamb with Prego spaghetti sauce? Are you fucking insane?
I looked at Lauren, debating whether to get up to complain and leave, then decided fuck it, let’s see how bad this is going to get. We decided to focus on the lamb chops, which were cooked perfectly, then moved to the lamb ragu—which wasn’t bad, but again, completely over salted—while skipping the Prego sauce, not knowing what in the hell to do with it.
As we continued to enjoy our first decent, albeit disjointed, dish of the night, the music took a violent turn, and Van Halen’s “Panama” came on, even louder than the preceding songs, which is saying something. As I sat trying to enjoy my lamp chops, my head was getting slammed by David Lee Roth, screaming Panama! Pana-ma-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Whew! Eddie Van Halen jumps into his guitar solo and it feels like I’m getting kicked in the head, ass, and balls all at once. Are these fuckers serious? This is the most bizarre, psychotic, and thoroughly unbearable dinner I’ve ever suffered through. By now it had turned into a dark comedy, but I couldn’t even think with the music blasting. I drifted for a second, wondering that maybe we really were the unwitting subjects of some sort of bizarre psychology experiment. “Dr. Zimbardo, we want to find out how long diners will endure bad service, bad wine pairings, bad food, and blasting music before their heads explode.”
The final straw came in the form of two cookies, a glass of port, and the bill. The waiter walked away from the table, which was still covered in dirty dishes and multiple plates of food. I got up, went and grabbed the guy, and said, “would you mind clearing our table so we can enjoy our port and COOKIE?
After paying the huge bill and walking out, pushing through the crowd waiting for the next seating, I felt like Ned Beatty’s character in Deliverance, post-rape scene. Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! Dejected, pissed off, laughing at the absurdity of what we’d just endured … and still hungry, I looked at Lauren and said, “you know what? Let’s go to Pink’s Hot Dogs around the corner and get some real food.” As we relaxed into our plastic chairs and sunk our teeth into our chili cheese dogs, Lauren and I clinked our Coke bottles and felt at peace for the first time that evening. Bill including tax and tip: 13 bucks. It reminded me, again, that not all five-star restaurants are great or even good, but you can count on them emptying your pocket book. On the other hand, dive bars often leave you fulfilled and happy at the cost of a Five Star Valet. PANAMA!
If you enjoyed that story check out one I wrote on another on an incredible restaurant in San Francisco Boulevard .