Throwing a successful dinner party is hard. You want things to be lively and spontaneous, but no one needs Gary getting sick in the bathroom again. Having some structure to the night is important, but too much will make everyone feel like they’re on a cruise ship to Nassau, instead of in an apartment with friends. And of course, there should be lots of good food.
And sometimes, that all just requires a little too much effort. On the nights when you want a dinner party atmosphere, but not all the work that comes with it, get a few seats at Le Comptoir instead.
Located on 6th St in Koreatown, Le Comptoir is a tiny prix-fixe restaurant made up of one long wooden counter with eight chairs. If you’ve ever stumbled past its big windows on a soju-drenched night in Ktown, you probably assumed the space was some sort of testing kitchen or exclusive pop-up for people who keep track of pop-ups. Le Comptoir is neither.
It's basically just a guy and his two friends cooking dinner for three hours. Le Comptoir's bare-bones space isn’t going to win any warm and fuzzy awards, and they will almost certainly make a mistake right in front of you - but that’s what makes a meal here feel personal. Sure, spending $90 for a nine-course meal (plus an optional $46 add-on wine pairing) isn’t exactly most people’s idea of casual dining, but given the average price point of the better prix-fixes in town, Le Comptoir’s almost feels like you’re getting away with something. Especially once you start eating the food.
Le Comptoir’s menu changes frequently, but you can expect to eat a lot of vegetables. They get everything from an urban farm in Long Beach, and before you mumble “of course they do,” know that the difference here is very apparent. In a town where eating fresh vegetables is your constitutional right, Le Comptoir’s are some of the best you’ll find. They aren’t dressed up or hiding under congealed dressing - most dishes are just fresh vegetables, cooked extremely well. There are meat supplements available throughout the menu for additional pricing, but aside from the ribeye at the end, you can skip them. The vegetable-based dishes are simply better.
We realize most at-home dinner parties don’t involve open kitchens, assistant chefs, and things called kale stem duxelle, but Le Comptoir has proven you can have all of those things, and still feel like you’re eating dinner with friends. Except Gary, he can stay home.
Le Comptoir’s menu changes frequently. Here are some of the things we ate:
This is essentially a creamy yam soup with sheep’s milk yogurt and easily our favorite thing on the menu. You’ll take one bite of it and immediately start strategizing how to get the chef to give you more.
This dish is basically a showcase for the urban farm in Long Beach that the chef pulls all his produce from. It’s absolutely just a plate of grilled vegetables and fruit, but it is excellent.
Served in a skillet with greens, lemon, and brown butter, this adds a very savory kick to a meal that, given its very vegetable-heavy beginning, needs it.
Not our favorite dish of the night. This is technically the main course (if you don’t opt for the ribeye instead), but it’s not substantial enough and feels more like three separate things on a plate instead of one cohesive dish.
Instead of the pommes puree, spend an extra $20 and get this. We can’t say it’s a massive portion of meat, but it’ll fill you up. And the grilled hearts of romaine on the side will be the best thing you eat all night not named yam soup.
Le Comptoir’s only true dessert on the menu is definitely good, but they also only give you one single donut hole, which feels like a form of torture. Give us two. Ok, three.