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Feb 4, 2009 07:15 AM

Church and State - a perfect French bistro

Church and State is Steven Arroyo’s newest restaurant. It is located downtown in the former loading dock of L.A.’s Nabisco Biscuit Co. Building. From what I understand it was off to a shaky start, but with Walter Manzke now in the kitchen, this is a definite must restaurant. The menu is French classic bistro done perfectly. Service, overseen by Joshua Goldman, is professional and efficient.

There is an other-wordly quality to the decor in that you honestly don’t feel like you are in LA - more Paris or New York in feel. The high ceiling is latticed with exposed vent ducts and strings of lights. Tables are well-spaced so you have none of that Anisette feeling of being squeezed and cramped. The kitchen is open and Chef Manzke is absolutely in charge - this is a chef who understands and executes bistro cuisine to a tee.

My only negative is that from the Westside it is a long drive, particularly during rush hour. But, it is worth the hassle.

Gougeres - light, airy

Salt Cod Beignets (baccalo) with crispy, deep-fried parsley and saffron aioli - if these are not done right, you might as well be eating leaden, heavy “fish cakes” - again perfect
temperature, done right with an excellent aioli

Joshua then brought a huge platter that contained a bounteous array of incredible “goodies.”

Pickled vegetables and the most delicious assortment of housemade pates, terrines and saucisson sec that included Duck Ham, Pigs feet and ham, Wild Goose from Canada, Rabbit. Chef Manzke makes this all in house and from what I understand he doesn't have a grinder so he hand chops everything.

Rillette de Saumon, confit of organic Scottish salmon with a topping of gribiche (chopped pickles, capers, parsley, hard-boiled egg yolks and whites) - this was stupendous and the gribiche topping was perfect

Terrine de Foie Gras topped with port-wine gelee, toasted brioche - another absolute winner and again what Chef Manzke does so well are the additional touches to each dish. In this case it was the port-wine gelee.

Rillettes de Cochon, Berkshire pork from Heritage, prune confiture

Marinated Olives

Kushi and Malpeque Oysters on the half shell

Escargot de Bourgogne, snails topped with a pastry dome and baked in garlic, parsley, shallot butter with the addition of pernod. The pernod was wondrous, adding an aromatic note to the dish.

Pig’s feet with a frisee salad sitting on a bed of lentils, finely diced potato and carrot with what appeared to be tiny lardons. I inhaled this dish.

Roasted Marrow Bone - rich, yet delicious

Tarte Flamiche- caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere cheese - the last time I had a tart done this well was with Alsatian Chef Eric Klein. Comme Ca's tart, as a comparison, had burnt edges.

Steak with Bearnaise sauce - we were getting very full and the steak was just as good as leftovers - perfect bearnaise.

Frites -

Cheese Board - 7 different types of cheese plus 5 different accompaniments

I have no notes on the desserts as we had a lot of wine.

BYO Wines
‘96 Compte Audoine Dampierre, Champagne
‘04 Chablis Wm. Fevre, Le Clos
‘03 Gevrey Chambertin, Mes Favorites, Alain Burquet
‘81 Ch. Clos Labere, Sauternes

A fun dining experience with superb food and service

Pics here:

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  1. what's the corkage policy/charge?

    1 Reply
    1. re: vinosnob

      $15 per bottle, however, it is waived if you buy a bottle from their list - bottle per bottle.

    2. Thanks for keeping us posted.
      My first meal there was awful in every respect including a charcuterie plate with one, yes one slice of prosciutto, and three thin slices of sopressata, bread and pickles for $15. Almost two hours before entrees, tasteless overcooked food, and a sommelier who would not go away. I am talking ten minutes at a time of rambling.
      Your pics show a much better story.

      5 Replies
      1. re: cls

        I suspect your visit was when it first opened, before Manzke was on board. My experience there, just after the new year, was much like the OP's.

        1. re: cls

          I've only been for desserts, but very glad to see the chef Manzke has stepped up. Joshua is a VERY cool cat but.. Steven Aroyo doesn't own the joint, but is a mere partner. Yasmine is the owner/operator and she is at the restaurant daily.

          1. re: TonyC

            Thanks for the info re Yasmine. I think with Joshua and Chef Manzke that Church and State is a completely different restaurant than when it first opened. I definitely like it more than Anisette and Comme Ca.

            1. re: lizziee

              "I definitely like it more than Anisette and Comme Ca."

              Me too!

        2. I'm glad to hear things have turned around for them. They did have an awful start but Manzke did help to turn the whole thing around. I ate there the first month it opened and it was just disastrous. I can't wait to go back now.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Thanks for the review. Definitely will be adding them to my list of restaurants to try soon.