The Funky Food Club at Le Bistro in Lighthouse Point: For the Truly Adventurous Eater

In March 2012, chef/owner Andy Trousdale of Le Bistro in Lighthouse Point, an expat from northern England, was discussing the dullness of the South Florida food scene with his longtime friend and customer Chris Blad. Caesar salads, steaks, tuna tartares, pastas — these could be interchanged on almost any menu at any local restaurant. Blad was tired of eating them. Trousdale was tired of cooking them. That sparked an idea: Why not start a food club? The two decided to round up some adventurous eaters to give Trousdale the opportunity to play and cook anything his little heart desired. Trousdale's wife and partner, Elin, came up with the name Funky Food Club, and Blad created a blog — funkyfoodclub.blogspot.com.

Unlike a trendy secret dining club you might find in a big city, this club is open to anyone. Previous Le Bistro customers sometimes join in, and if you're brave enough to experiment, just make a reservation. For $50, guests get to sample whatever interesting concoctions Trousdale decides to combine. He does know his stuff — he worked in British restaurants, on a high-end yacht, and as a professor at the Art Institute before founding Le Bistro, but the restaurant has twice been featured on Gordon Ramsay's TV show Kitchen Nightmares.

For most dinners, Trousdale gets inspiration by walking around the grocery store and picking up whatever piques his interest. No matter how strange some of the ingredients, one rule of the club is that Trousdale can't just torture the diners for his own amusement; he has to be willing to eat anything he prepares. He admits, "I don't always love everything," but then again, "Not everything is weird." For him, the club is "a way to get away from the same boring old foods."

"Black chicken." Yes, that's the head.
"Black chicken." Yes, that's the head.

Location Info

Map

Le Bistro

4626 N. Federal Highway
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Pompano Beach

Details

The Funky Food Club at Le Bistro, 4626 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point. Call 954-946- 9240. The Funky Food Club meets about once a month. Dinners cost $50 per person and include an appetizer, seafood dish, entrée, and dessert. Guests are asked to bring their own wine.

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Another founding principle is to encourage discussion about the meal. Half the fun of the club meetings is the conversation about it. The point is to critique it constructively: what works, what doesn't. "The goal is to be more of a social event with the food being the focus, but in a very different manner from the normal restaurant experience," Trousdale says.

On April 10, 2012, a dozen fearless eaters — mostly Le Bistro regulars — turned up at the restaurant to see what Trousdale had in store. Since then, some have left and other newbies have jumped in their places, but the dinners have pretty much consisted of that same core group.

On December 12, I showed up alone to see what this whole thing was about. The atmosphere felt like someone's small but modern home: oil paintings on the wall, long drapes over the windows, a small foyer, white tablecloths, a single fresh flower on each table. Around 20 guests of mixed ages, marital statuses, and backgrounds stood around chatting and drinking wines they brought themselves. That's part of the deal: $50 for dinner and BYOB. The group often tries to meet when the restaurant is closed for business, so Trousdale can spend more time relaxing over the course of the dinner, but on this particular night, the restaurant was open to the public, and a couple of other tables were occupied by diners quietly eating their meals.

The mixed crowd was a friendly bunch, and within seconds, I was a part of the club. They all warned me/bragged about the last month's dinner, when Trousdale had prepared "black chicken" — served nearly whole, with the claw hanging off the edge of the plate. No one in the group knew anyone else who had ever set eyes upon, let alone eaten, such a creature.

We were told to sit before the first course was served. As the dishes were brought out, the metallic smell of innards wafted about. The table erupted.

"Liver!" shouted one guest.

"Ugh. I don't do liver," said another.

"I've never had it," someone else chimed in.

A bowl of what looked like battered, fried green beans, topped with a thick, creamy, white sauce — yogurt, crème fraîche, sour cream? — was covered in some sort of reddish gravy and something that resembled quartered mushrooms. I took a bite. No surprise: offal. The metallic taste juxtaposed some sort of spicy element, which contrasted with something fresh and herbal, something tangy and creamy, and the obvious fried green beans. Not being one for the metallic, urine-like flavor of innards, I almost gagged.

Trousdale, who would pop in and out of the kitchen throughout the meal like a jovial host, explained that the odd combination was something he had christened Nouveau Poutine. Instead of traditional poutine — Canadian street food that resembles cheese fries, with potatoes covered in gray and cheese curds — Trousdale's dish consisted of French-fried green beans topped with beef kidney gravy, crumbled goat cheese, parsley sour cream, and habanero. The woman next to me loved it. Me, not so much.

Another woman, seated across from me, a self-pronounced "unadventurous eater," was here for her fourth dinner. She said the regulars had developed a dining friendship: They chat about different kinds of foods they've tried and different happenings in life. "I'm not the kind of person who orders the weirdest thing on the menu," she said. "I stick to things I know I like, because I don't want to get stuck with a dish that is terrible." This was her first experience with kidneys.

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10 comments
Jason
Jason

Great, another Yacht chef with a resume too blurry to read in Fort Lauderdale. $50pp with no beverage. Quite the Tuesday night bargain.

appone
appone

Thank you Sara. I think you captured the feeling and the idea well. We hope to see you come by the FFC again.

PS - my name is Vlad, not Blad. But if food can be funked, so can names

FFCFoodie
FFCFoodie

@Jason If Chef Andy's full resume is too blurry for you to read, you should get glasses before commenting on that which you are unknowing.  

I'm not sure where you usually dine.  But, a four course meal, prepared by a creative chef, (not a short order cook at a national chain), including tax, tip, and corkage for $50 is reasonable.  And, the ability to bring our own wine instead of the $15/glass that is typical in many restaurants is an added benefit.

I do know, as I have experienced several of Chef Andy's creations.  I had many meals at Le Bistro that were amazing.  

At the Funky Food Club, the food is just the beginning.  There is also, the anticipation, the attempt to determine what we are eating, the laughs, the banter, the comments, the other diners, and so much more.  It is an experience and I look forward to it every month. 

If you are looking for a cheap meal, just tell them to SuperSize that value meal.  We won't miss you at the next FFC meeting. 

appone
appone

@Jason 

Ignorance is the mother of arrogance, isn't it Jason?


saraventiera
saraventiera

@9549257894 I am so sorry! I should have known to double check, as the same thing happens to my name all the time. I deeply apologize.

Jason
Jason

@FFCFoodie The problem with LeBistro is that they declare themselves as being great and charge as much as anyone else in town before establishing themselves as being worth it. If I went to every restaurant that self-proclaimed to be great I'd spend a lot of money on a  lot of really bad food. So skepticism is my first instinct. Besides, I dont want creative food. I want good food.

Jason
Jason

@appone To me, Arrogance is a chef who self-proclaims  himself as "the best chef in Fort Lauderdale".  The problem with the culinary scene in FTL is that it's restaurants are littered with ex Yacht chefs and recent culinary institute grads who learned presentation but who have no idea how to cook

Jason
Jason

 My comment was based on the fact that yacht chefs have no knowable history, because they worked on someone's boat and not anyplace that was subject to public scrutiny. 

appone
appone

@Jason 

While you may have a point about the culinary scene, at large, do you have any knowledge regarding Chef Andy that makes you want to label him this way?

 
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