Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lardon - Sizzling Start for Genius Bacon Truck

At just over a month after its soft launch, all signs point to Lardon being much more than just a 'flash in the pan' on the LA Food Truck scene - like the greasy but supertasty browned bits in the crannies of cookware after bacon's been on the hotspot - Lardon is here to stay.  It's already got its hold on the city, or at least those who have been lucky enough to try it. 

As a devout bacon-ist, I had been keeping tabs on Lardon via Twitter since news broke of this exciting new food truck concept. They recently started serving three meals a day, but it was often close to my apartment while I was stuck at work - or just out of reach, a little too far for me to sneak out to at lunch. And I hadn't seen it yet on food or art fest circuits. So last night, it felt like I had won the lottery, when I noticed it would be just a short drive down the street at dinnertime. I tried to finish up at work and get out as soon as I could, knowing from Twitter updates they were already out of most items halfway into service, due to locals going hog-wild for their offerings.

Arriving to a stretch of Riverside Dr on the Burbank/NoHo border 10 minutes after the truck was scheduled to take off, I was relieved to spot Lardon still parked by the curb. A handful of people were chatting on the sidewalk, and I walked up with a mix of dread (what if they are from Lardon, getting a quick break before packing up to leave?) and cautious optimism (perhaps they would indulge me in one small morsel before closing down for the night?).  I stepped up to the window, but my heart sank when told they were out of absolutely everything...the folks on the sidewalk had been waiting a long time for the last of the food.

The guy handling the orders (who I later found out was owner Jeremiah) - saw my disappointment and offered a brownie for my efforts. Instantly cheered up, I started to reach for the money in my backpocket when he said the magic words:  "Don't worry about it, it's on the house!"  Then he asked co-host Heather to pull brownies for everyone.  Awesome, I thought, and stepped to the side to wait and check out the menu that I planned to try next time. 

Then they kicked it up a notch - the chef found a straggling 'baco' - did I want it?  Did I want it!!??  That made my night!!!!  So I pulled out money again, ecstatic about the chance to try the 'baco' after all - which is what I would have ordered in the first place!  As Jeremiah waved the money away, I tried to object - I couldn't possibly take a brownie AND a baco for free!!!  But he insisted the baco would also be on the house.  I couldn't believe it - BACON + Nutella + Brownie, and it's all free - all in one night.  (And I have to be clear here that at NO time did I ever mention that I have a blog - to Jeremiah and Heather I was just a regular customer).  I am now a fan for life.  Can they be any nicer??!!!!  I challenge anyone to find a more perfect couple in all of the food trucks in LA!!!

So, sorry for the uncharacteristic rambling of the circumstances of my arrival at this particular review venue - but it was too awesome not to recount.  On to the food then!

"the baco" ($4)
So what is "the baco" ($4)?  The concept is sort of like a bacon taco / savory crepe - except that a bacon 'shell' is used instead of a tortilla or crepe as the wrapper, and potato and cheddar are used for stuffing, all served in a plastic cone-shaped cup.  The 'platter' comes with a side of horseradish sour cream topped with bacon bits! 

The baco fulfilled two of what in my humble opinion are the keys to great street/food truck food - (1) it has to SMELL amazing - street/food truck food is an up close and personal experience, with a sense of immediacy that you don't get from most restaurants (unless you sit at the bar right in front of an open kitchen) and I like to first be lured by enticing smells.  Lardon definitely gets this, and the smell of bacon cooking pervades the entire block where the truck is parked - it's impossible to NOT notice that it's there, and to be drawn to it like the puppy from the Beggin' Strips commercials - except that this really IS bacon!!!  (2)  it has to be designed to be easy to eat standing up in the street, without a counter or silverware.  Anything that requires both a knife and fork to eat, even plastic ones, should not be served off a food truck (unless they are also providing tables and chairs) - anyone who has tried to balance their tray of food in one hand while trying desperately to cut food into bite-sized pieces with the side of a plastic fork in the other would understand.  The 'baco' was served up perfectly - you just toss the little container of sour cream over the whole thing, and then grab the plastic cone-cup (which protects you from the delicious and minimal, but potentially messy grease) in one hand and munch away. 

In terms of taste, the baco was divine.  The proportions of potato to cheese to bacon shell was just right, and I loved the layered textures of the soft, creamy but substantial and mild flavored combo of potato and cheese inside with the crunchy and salty bacon shell enveloping the whole mix.  My only minor note is that I would have liked the horseradish flavor to have a little more presence in the sour cream mix, but overall I loved the concept and execution of this bacon taco.

Lark's brownie with bacon and Nutella spread ($3.50)
And for dessert...the Lark brownie with bacon Nutella spread ($3.50) - or, as far as I'm concerned, the dessert that delivers on three essential food groups:  chocolate, bacon and chocolate-hazelnut spread.  This brownie will make you a believer in Lardon - over a moist, dense brownie from Lark bakery in Silverlake, Lardon has ingeniously slathered creamy Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread as 'frosting', and topped the whole thing with bacon bits for a kick of saltiness to complement the sweet.  The portion size is also generous, so that I felt full after the baco and the brownie, and didn't have to eat anything else for dinner afterwards!

All in all, I will definitely be keeping a lookout for Lardon on Twitter, and treating their menu like a checklist.  The next thing I think I'm going to try is the frisee au lardon sandwich with a fried egg and vinaigrette on toasted brioche ($6)...though the breakfast items look tasty as well...if they don't sell out before I get there, a risk that I am sure will only increase as more people hear about this incredible little truck!!!  Great work, Lardon - keep it up!!!

Update Nov 2010:  Tried the frisee au lardon sandwich - it was awesome!  Great balance of the frisee with the runny egg, punctuated by salty bacon chunks - my only note is that there was a little too much bread in proportion to the 'fillings', but very minor.  Overall it's a great, tasty little gourmet sandwich for $6 - served with a side of friendly service!
Update Dec 2010:  With visiting Canadians in my house, I couldn't let them leave without checking out the great American way with bacon - in combo with the food truck craze.  We ordered one of everything that was left on the main menu, as well as bacon pancakes with bourbon maple syrup ($5.50) and brioche french toast sandwich filled with crumbled bacon and bacon bourbon maple syrup ($5.50).  My brother and his wife loved the frisee and baco as I did, and the BLT was fairly good as well. 
The french toast and pancakes had likely just gotten cold by the time we got to them, after all the picture taking, driving back home and gorgefest on the mains, but those items were a bit overshadowed by the beauty of the frisee and baco.  Also, I had expected for some reason that the pancakes would actually be made of bacon flavored batter - but could not taste bacon beyond the crumbled pieces that seemed to be tossed in quickly to the center of the griddle cake.

On a 7 point scale:

Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 7 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $ (1 bite mark)
Probability of return visit - 100%


All over L.A. - track them on Twitter!
Ph: 213.500.3345


Lardon on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. That Lark brownie looks delicious! And the Baco doesn't look too bad either. Wish there was a truck nearby...



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