Delightful, Small Batch BBQ - Q Session at Le Comptoir [Thoughts + Pics]

What happens when a classically trained Chef decides to do small batch American BBQ? You get something like the Q Session at Le Comptoir from Chef Gary Menes. Locals might remember Chef Menes from stints at Patina, or Palate: Food + Wine. He’s worked at Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and is currently the Chef-Owner of Le Comptoir, which was awarded 1 Michelin Star in 2019.

So it was with great interest when we heard that Chef Menes also did a small “pop-up” of sorts (within his own restaurant) for American BBQ, known as the “Q Session at Le Comptoir.” This pop-up seems to happen every few months (not consistently), and we were able to finally try this during the most recent pop-up.

The menu is very limited for the pop-up with only 3 main meats and a few sides.

Rustic Sourdough Loaf (Made with 26 Year Old Starter):

This had a beautiful auburn exterior. The actual taste? It was just OK. Soft in the center, it lacked the big tang we had hoped from a great Sourdough Loaf, tasting more mild, almost like a Country Loaf instead. Local Bread Mavens like Gjusta are much more appealing in taste and price (Le Comptoir charges $16(!) for this Sourdough).

Certified Black Angus Bone-In Short Rib (Slow Smoked in Almond Wood):

This was delicious! :heart: Nice peppery bark, zesty seasoning gives way to tender, succulent BBQ Short Rib meat. :blush: The only minor quibble was that there was barely any smoke flavor coming through. We thought Heritage BBQ’s ridiculous Beef Rib was better, but this was still easily the best we’ve had in LA County. :slight_smile:

Baby Back Ribs (Smoked with California Almond Wood):

Chef Menes mentions these are done “competition style”. They are a bit tangy and sweet, along with the natural savoriness of the Pork Baby Back Ribs themselves. These were pretty good, perhaps a bit too meaty and with too much chew to them. Heritage BBQ was definitely a cut above for comparison.

Prime Holstein Brisket Smoked with California Almond Wood:

Super tender, juicy, beefy, decadent. :heart: Similarly to the BBQ Beef Short Rib, there was surprisingly not a lot of smoke flavor coming through, but otherwise, this was some very good Beef Brisket, slow smoked and easily the best in L.A. County.

Creamed Corn:

I am not an expert on Creamed Corn, but I was expecting it to be thicker. Chef Menes’ Creamed Corn side dish was quite watery and thin. However, the flavor of the Corn, fragrant and sweet, and delicate Cream and Butter was tasty. :slight_smile:

The Q Session at Le Comptoir is delivering outstanding American BBQ for the L.A. area. Chef Menes is able to shine here with the fantastic Smoked Beef Short Ribs and Smoked Beef Brisket. Those 2 offerings alone are leagues better than most of the places around L.A.

While it doesn’t come close to Heritage BBQ, it is still so far better than the other local places around L.A. and much closer than Heritage that we’d gladly return and enjoy some great Q from Le Comptoir whenever it’s available. We only wish it was offered more than once every 2 - 3 months.

Q Session at Le Comptoir
3606 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Follow Le Comptoir’s Instagram to find out when the next Pop-Up is happening:

https://www.instagram.com/lecomptoirla/

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Barely discernible (if any) smoke ring on the proteins.

Perhaps he was aiming for a more french leaning sourdough i.e. less tang forward?

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Although not native, I consider myself a Southern girl…as much as I’d love to dine at Le Comptoir, theres no way I would go there and expect good cue.

That’s something that comes from a big guy with a drawl, with a smoker pulled behind a pickup.

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Hi @Sgee,

Great to hear from you! :blush: Yah, great call out as well. Good point that maybe he was aiming for a different style of Sourdough.

Hi @Sunshine842,

Thanks. :slight_smile: Totally understand your point! :grin: Your comment reminded me of the time when celebrated Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken attempted to make Vietnamese Pho. :sweat_smile: (It did not turn out well.)

Although sometimes, good results can happen, such as when classically trained Chef Johnny Ray Zone (who’s worked under Chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and Chef Gordon Ramsey) decided to give that up to focus on making legendary Nashville-style Fried Chicken and opened up Howlin’ Ray’s. :slight_smile: (It is fantastic!)

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Does Almond wood impart a discernible taste and aroma? That’s a new wood for me to see used for smoking.

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Hi @bbqboy,

Good question. Perhaps? The smokiness was very subtle on the Q Session’s meats, so it was hard for us to tell. :sweat_smile: Maybe the chef was going for something more subtle and chose Almond wood for that reason? I’ll have to ask him next time we try it. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Could be California smoke emissions guidelines. Ugh the oven barbecue. There has been a place in the works for two years now where I live. I’ll just make my own .

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The only thing I know about almond wood is that it’s some of the hottest-burning wood I’ve ever come across.

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Interesting. I was only thinking of the taste/flavor but heat and burn time adds another dimension to the equation.

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Almond is mild like pecan in my opinion and not my choice of smoke for beef or even baby back. Of course if one isn’t harvesting the wood it’s hard to say what is in a bag purchased at the store.

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