I remember - when I first started at Handsome - hearing of a chef named Gary Menes. His legend preceded him: Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and Joachim Splichal’s Patina are just two of the recognizable ticks on his resume. One of my bosses told me to expect him in the next few days, and to make sure we set aside some coffee for him to serve at his new pop-up restaurant, Le Comptoir.
I fully expected to meet a chef who would be in no mood to make small talk; weathered by years of work in restaurant kitchens and hardened by success.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Gary Menes, Chef and owner of Le Comptoir
Le Comptoir is a reflection of Gary’s dream: 12 counter seats situated around a small kitchen, where he and his two sous-chefs create a dining experience you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. Gary bakes his bread using an 18-year-old starter, peruses local gardens for hyper-seasonal ingredients, and plates each of the five courses on a counter just a few feet from where you sit.
One of Le Comptoir’s sous-chefs, preparing the 4th course
This unique level of intimacy with the process of creating a meal is further emphasized by Gary’s incredible hospitality: I’ve never felt more welcome at someone’s table. Period.
Gary plating the final course
Gary also takes his coffee service more seriously than most specialty coffee shops. He weighs each batch, monitors his water temperatures with a thermometer, and brews using a v60 with a scale and timer. Some of the best Handsome brewed coffee I’ve had has come from Le Comptoir.
If you live in Southern California, make reservations and go meet Gary Menes. It’s a dinner you need to experience. And go this weekend - there will be a small gift from Handsome Coffee that I think you’ll enjoy.