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Dining review: Le Comptoir in Glendale is a temporary delight

November 30, 2012|By Lisa Dupuy
  • Todd Chang, cooks apprentice, and Chef Gary Menes at Le Comptoir in Glendale prepare for dinner. The restaurant is in the historic Bekins Storage building.
Todd Chang, cooks apprentice, and Chef Gary Menes at Le… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

Los Angeles Magazine Chef of the Year Gary Menes has opened his latest pop-up restaurant in the historic Bekins Storage building on South Brand in Glendale.

Some may remember Menes from his days at Palate Food + Wine, which used to inhabit the front space.

Le Comptoir is housed in the Wine Vault around back next to a decadently large free parking lot. The somewhat hidden entrance is deliberate, suddenly confronting patrons around a darkened corner with the delicious sights and smells of the unique space.

At designated times, a limited number of guests are seated around a three-sided counter, or comptoir, and served a five-course prix fixe meal. Food is prepared inches from guests in the method of sushi chefs, except this food is sauteed and baked and poached.

It's a marvel to watch three cooks, one waitress and one attendant feed fourteen expectant people using what looks like a hot plate and a warming oven.

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I'm a big fan of the “sit down, shut up and eat this” credo. So I happily acquiesced as plate after plate of exquisitely combined flavors and textures arrived. First was the night's amuse-bouche, a pillow of cauliflower and corn polenta with a shaving of lemon on top that was, well, amusing. Then came the most exquisite course, in my opinion: sweet potato veloute (literally “velvet” soup) poured over a crispy, slightly burnt-tasting farinette (a sort of savory pancake) topped with Greek yogurt, herbs and dehydrated corn. The combination of creamy, crunchy, earthy and sweet was sublime.

About this time, the first in a flight of four French wines appeared, a young, crisp Chateau les Arromans Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon. This would be followed by a creamy Rouvre Saint Leger Grenache Blanc, a fruity Domaine du Fresche Cabernet Franc and a dusty Morgon old vine Gamay.

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