It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
I’ve been waiting for Petit Trois’s north-of-Mulholland move for more than a year, in a part of town that’s only known for an abundance of raw fish on rice, the desperate need for air conditioning and Boogie Nights. Southern California’s San Fernando Valley is now home to a second location of Petit Trois, the French bistro delivered to the world in 2014 along Melrose by the three-headed gastronomic genius of Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, also of Trois Mec and Trois Familia fame.
The Valley needed new blood and I needed reservation capabilities, tabletop seating with firm back support and an exclusive-to-the-SFV breakfast menu. Seeing as they’re open from 8am to 10pm, there’s no better way to experience an all-day restaurant than eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in a 12-hour span at Petit Trois Valley.
Five people are already seated at 8am when the doors open. Now I’m a prompt croissant addict, but apparently there are prompter croissant addicts excited for the biggest restaurant opening in the history of Sherman Oaks. Six customers morph into eight as two parties of one appear at the marble countertop bar, sipping lattes while Jon Shook leads the culinary charge, ordering his soldiers in white shirts and black bow ties onto the battlefield while I’m going to war with the menu because I want it all. There’s a gold rush of additions to Petit Trois Melrose’s oeuvre, which never before featured breakfast—despite offering the most popular omelette this side of the Seine. But I don’t order the Boursin pepper-cheese and chived yolky butter bonzana because Ludo’s take on McDonald’s Egg McMuffin—the Mec Muffin—is now available, and it’s sprinkled with fried sage.
I sprinkle the rest of the meal with an oh-my-god-this-is-warm croissant, a tartine take on avocado toast, and an endless black drip in the prettiest coffee cup I’ve ever laid these caffeinated eyes on. A party of five is seated as the green and white floral-wallpapered room continues to balloon and I perform a David Blaine-level magic trick of making every dish on my table disappear. And every a.m. customer is thinking the same thing: goodbye, Jinky’s; hello, Petit Trois Valley.
Chef, TV star and all-around tattooed guy Aaron Sanchez is eating with what looks like his family as I glide over black and white checkerboard floors, through the French fry aioli-dipping 1pm crowd of this not-quite-Studio-City-chic community’s new baguette-and-butter commissary.
I take a seat at the kitchen counter as chef Sanchez approaches, thanking Ludo and crew, clapping his permanently inked hands, and Ludo lovingly says, “bye bye, sweetie pie” while manning three saucepans. Vinny appears on the cold-food line at the back of the open kitchen before moving to ladle dark chocolate on a pair of just-plated profiteroles, while Mr. Shook paces nearby on his phone, dealing with business as a bearded cook in front of me with the word “chef” tattooed across his knuckles frisbees buttered bread slices and raw, salted beef patties.
But it’s all about Ludo taking the lead, quarterbacking everything, reminding new team members to “work clean” as a plate of herb-and-oil-seasoned olives hits the pass, and two croque madames hits the pass next to a bubbling croc of onion soup. The French fry dipping continues while those now-classic Big Mec double cheese burgers are dripping red wine bordelaise all around me—but I want to try a new addition to the Sherman Oaks menu, and a light lunch is the plan, so I only order the Niçoise pasta and it’s a creamy basil green dream on Ventura Boulevard.
I’ve been waiting for this one, and not only for le Valley’s new dessert offerings, which I didn’t feel comfortable ordering at lunch—I’m a firm believer that ordering dessert in the middle of the day is real low-life behavior—but because I decided to invite a friend so I could try more and really blow it out. And when I say "it," I mean my dignity, my belt, and more importantly, the Instagram feed. It’s all so photogenic before we attack every plate in our reach: the fried-onion-string-covered tartare; the single-lemon-wedge-topped crab cake in an ocean of a mother sauce that didn’t stand a chance against our baguette ammunition; the dwarfed-by-a-cliff-of-frites cognac pepper filet; the tableside dark chocolate waterfall splashing into a soufflé.
Even one meal in a day would transport you from inside the Hancock Design interiors of this packed French SFV palace to where Ludo wants you, to where Ludo has been, and after all that butter you can’t help but mutter “we’re not in Sherman Oaks anymore.” Welcome to Monsieur Lefebvre’s neighborhood.
Warning: Jordan is a professional meat, butter and bread cadet, and warns all readers against eating three meals at the same restaurant in one day.
Petit Trois Valley is now open at 13705 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks, open from 8am to 10pm, daily.