Ludo Parisian Sandwich Now Available at Gram & Papa’s
Like many folks in Los Angeles, the first time I ever heard of Gram & Papa’s was when Chef Ludo Lefebvre announced he would be bringing his pop up restaurant sensation there this past April. But for people who work in the Fashion District, and don’t mind spending $10 on a sandwich, Gram & Papa’s is a decent (albeit pricey) lunchtime standby. Their chicken salad sandwich was named one of the best in the city by Los Angeles magazine last month, but Ludo was clearly the biggest thing to ever happen to this place- and even though Ludobites 4.0 dinner service ended a few weeks ago, his spirit lives on in the form of “Ludo’s Parisian”- a lunchtime special now being served at the Downtown sandwich shop.
There’s something about this sandwich that looks so right scrawled on a sidewalk blackboard. They started serving it 2 weeks ago, but it’s been available only in limited quantities and on some days not at all (apparently on Tuesday they didn’t have the baguette.) We also heard Ludo spent some time tinkering with the thing to get it perfect, but as of yesterday the Chef had finally settled on the final version of the sandwich… and I was told they weren’t in any danger of running out anymore.
At $10.50 this bad boy is just outside the ML price range, but for Ludo I’m willing to pay the extra 50 cents. Surprisingly, though, Ludo’s Parisian is a fairly classic version of a typical French sandwich- and an ironic bit of reverse engineering (for Ludobites 4.0 he served “Parisian Ham Sandwich in a Bowl”, a liquid version of this very sandwich.) Of course honey butter is a nice little Ludo twist (instead of regular butter or mustard) and the cornichon are julienned along with radishes to make a kind of relish. The baguette was perfect, and the ham and cheese were both delicious- and no doubt high quality. The fat guy in me wants to complain about how little ham and cheese there were, (and if you love pickles, there might not be enough of the relish) but it’s probably a lot more than you would get in Europe (what can I say, we Americans are shameless gluttons), and it was actually the perfect amount for the size of the baguette (unlike the sandwiches we had at the adorably French newish Westwood spot Ratata, which were pretty bread heavy- although in fairness, those were half the price.)
In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect French sandwich. Simply made, with great ingredients. But Ludophiles might be disappointed that it’s too simple, and people who aren’t fanatics of the French Chef (or fans of the classic French baguette sandwich) might wonder why they’re paying $10.50 for a ham and cheese sandwich. In other words, it’s not going to have the same impact as say, Ludo’s Fried Chicken Truck… but for those who work Downtown, and like Gram & Papa’s, this is easily one of the better sandwiches they serve.
And if you’re lucky, you might just spot the famous Chef behind the counter. He doesn’t make the sandwiches himself, but it appears as if he’s using Gram & Papa’s as a test kitchen for the aforementioned Fried Chicken Truck- scheduled to hit the streets as early as next month. (Did we see grilled drumettes and gooey chocolate chip cookies being tried? Or was that just a figment of our imagination…)
We couldn’t leave without also trying their chicken salad on a pretzel roll, the sandwich Los Angeles Magazine named to their 17 Best Sandwiches in L.A. list last month. I have to admit, I’m not the world’s biggest chicken salad sandwich fan- but I do believe that mayo and nuts are an obvious improvement to chicken, and this was definitely one of the better versions of chicken salad I’ve had. I’m also a firm believer that pretzel rolls make everything taste better, and if you’re going to spend $9 on a sandwich it should have heft (and a pretzel roll certainly accomplishes that.) I could get all obnoxious, and talk about how the salty crust of the pretzel roll had a lovely interplay with the creamy chicken salad- but is that really necessary? It’s a freakin pretzel roll filled with chicken salad! If that sounds good to you (it did to us!) you know what you’re getting into.
Now, is it one of the 17 best sandwiches in Los Angeles? I hope not… but that’s coming from a guy who probably wouldn’t be giving out awards to any chicken salad sandwich- no matter how good. But if you’re a fan, you’ll find it hard not to like this bad boy.
Like most L.A. lunch spots, half of the menu at Gram and Papa’s is salads, which can be ordered in half sizes (under $10) or full sizes (over $10, with a few exceptions.) I’m not one to ever order a salad… but there were a few that I might not be embarrassed to be caught eating. Like their Greek Salad, which was $9.50 and had merguez (hello sausage!), or their Far East Kitchen ($10.50) which has “crispy soba noodles”.
But in the end, a third sandwich won out. We were too intrigued by the maple glazed bacon on the BLT to pass it up. It was a fine BLT, but sadly the maple glaze was a bit too subtle for my sweet tooth (I was hoping for something more like Big Mista’s super sweet and sticky “pig candy” I tried at the Vendy Awards). And it’s on regular slices of wheat bread, making it one of the smaller (aka less filling) options on the menu, if such things are important to you (they are to me). For $5, I might ave been psyched. For $8.50, I’m going with a baguette or pretzel bread!
I guess it’s wrong to complain about price without mentioning that every sandwich comes with a super delicious bag of house fried potato chips. (At least they tasted like they were sliced and fried in house.) Obviously a little more would be nice, but it’s a great addition to the sandwiches… and almost makes the price worth it. Almost. (What can I say? I’m a cheapo at heart!)
Gram & Papa’s is very similar to a lot of the fancy sandwich and salad spots that seem to be popping up all over the place these days (Mendocino Farms anybody?) If you are all about quality ingredients, and don’t mind paying a little bit extra for the privilege of having those quality ingredients used in well crafted sandwiches, you will love Gram & Papa’s. (Now available at lunch with a little bit of Ludo!) For the hard core cheap asses? The price might be too much to swallow.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love well crafted sandwiches, with high quality ingredients, and don’t mind paying the extra $$
- Ludo is my hero! I must eat every single thing he makes…
- Freshly sliced and fried potato chips are AWESOME (and come with the sandwich)
- I like a lot of nuts in my chicken salad
- Pretzel roll FTW!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Sorry, $10 for a sandwich is too rich for my blood
- I love Ludo, but was hoping his sandwich would be a bit more out there (or at least as good as that amazing soup!)
- I was hoping for more maple glaze on my bacon!
- Sandwiches served on regular bread are too small for the price
- Did I mention I hate spending $10 for a sandwich?
- They don’t always have the Ludo’s sandwich… and sometimes they run out! (You might want to call first, or check their Twitter account)
Gram & Papa’s, 227 East 9th Street, 213-624-7272
Metered parking available on the street for $3 an hour