Trois Mec

An ambitious vision whittled down to 26 seats in a repurposed pizza parlor (and accessed only by tickets purchased in advance), Trois Mec is a restaurant of modulated grandeur and uncompromising standards. Chef Ludovic Lefebvre grates Salers cheese onto potato pulp with onion soubise and bonito flakes. Cooked over almond wood, ibérico pork reaches rustic heights when accompanied by a few clams in a mustard-laced broth. The tiny spot serves as a model for modern luxury, with no distance between diner and craft.

The Top Ten Best New Restaurants: No. 1, January 2014

Trois Mec isn’t built on accessibility. It hides behind frosted windows beneath a Raffalo’s Pizza sign in a strip mall by a Unocal station; you can’t get a table at the 26-seater without buying a ticket first, nor is there a listed phone number. 

Really, you could almost dislike the place—until you go. Gloriously original, the restaurant is the joint vision of chefs Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo, and Ludovic Lefeb-vre, but the cooking is pure Lefebvre—the Burgundian virtuoso possessed of French traditions and the conviction that they gain new legitimacy in a context as wide as the world. Whether it’s with heritage pork, wakame powder, or Peruvianleche de tigre citrus marinade, the interplay is epiphanic, especially when you’re sitting “courtside” at the beechwood counter, inches away from the busy cooks. Anamuse-bouche might be a single curry-scented madeleine or an ear of tempura baby corn dipped in a feisty salsa verde. Potatoes—pushed through a ricer to order—acquire a Lisztian lushness with a ladle of clarified butter, a pinch of bonito flakes, and a final dappling of nutty Salers cheese. All homey angles, the wood-grilled Ibérico pork is brightened by a handful of clams and a hint of mustard whisked into the delicate sauce. A last drop of Jura red in your glass and memories of bone marrow custard with peapod bouillon dancing in your head, you’re in two places at once by meal’s end: behind an L.A. gas station and beside a French canal, where poplar trees shade a narrow road.