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Churhc & State - MY NEW LOVE! [Review w/ lots of PICS!]

Full review with pictures: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Text Review:

Don't bother trying to find CHURCH AND STATE in bold letters. We did not see any Church and State signage until we got to the front door. Instead, "National Biscuit Company" marks the building. Turns out, we were eating at a landmark. This is the original west coast headquarters of Nabisco or back then the National Biscuit Company.

Church and State's decor is classy, chic, and festive. The long, bare windows and hanging lights make us feel like we are eating outside under the bright moon. R&B and Hip Hop music plays softly in the background while waiters and staff interact with patrons. The kitchen is wide opened; we watched Chef Walter Manzke as he worked the kitchen and got the orders out. Church and State has all the components of a fancy restaurant, but it's also fun and young.
We were seated ten minutes after we arrived. Our friendly waiter greeted us and got some wine. We're not really wine drinkers, but we decided to celebrate the occasion. As recommended by the waiter, Wesley ordered a glass of 2005 Jean Perrier et Fils Vieilles Vignes- Savoie [Mondeuse] ($12) and Evelina had the 2007 Domaine Moreux- Sancerrc [Sauvignon Blanc] ($14) .

Right after we ordered, we were treated with gougeres, also known as cheese puffs. These gourgeres were made with Gruyère cheese, which gave it a slightly salty taste. Overall, this little piece of pastry was light, soft, and scrumptious.

After the gougeres, the waiter came with sliced baguettes and some of the best butter we've ever had. The butter was soft, creamy and unsalted. It went well with the bread's hard and crispy crust and the soft and fluffy interior.

We ordered the Assiette de Charchuterie ($18) as our appetizer, which included three types of salami and four different pates. The salami were good cuts of meat; the middle one was the smokiest and most flavorful. The pates were also very good. The second pate from the right had rabbit meat, which we've never had before. Overall, the charcuterie was a great way to start off our meal.

Evelina ordered the Confit de Canard ($17), which is essentially preserved duck leg that has been salt cured, slowly poached in duck fat and then encased in the fat. The duck leg also came with potatoes Sarladaise and pickled cherries. The result a duck leg with crispy skin and tender, delicate meat, which was salty, but full of the natural duck flavor. The pairing of the duck and cherries added a sweet and tangy bam to the dish. The potatoes, which is fried in duck fat, were also delicious! Evelina really loved this standout dish.

Wesley ordered the Steak Frites $25, which included a bearnaise sauce. The steak was ordered medium-rare and was cooked beautifully. The bearnaise sauce wonderfully complements the fries, but the au jus was too flavorful to waste., so Wesley soaked his fries like a sponge and consumed every drop of the savory au jus.

Wesley also ordered Gratin de Macronis et Fromage ($6) or, in English, mac n cheese. The macaroni is melted in three types of cheese, Gruyere, Cantal, and Mimolette that went very well together. Definitely great mac n cheese.

For dessert, Wesley ordered a coffee and Evelina had dessert wine, the Jorancon 2006 Uroulat ($12), which was really sweet and fruity. The waiter brought over a cut board of desserts and right when we found out the Croustade aux Fraises ($8) or Savory pie in strawberries had rhubarb, we were sold. Atop of the bread crumbs is a dollop of buttery ice cream. We thought the ice cream went great with the warm dessert, but because it wasn't a big portion, the ice cream melted too fast for us to really enjoy it. Nevertheless, savoring this final dish was a great way to end our dinner.

Having dinner at Church and State was a great way to celebrate the years we've been together. The service was great, our waiter was attentive, informative, and friendly, and the food is some of the best we've ever had. The prices were also great for French food. Some may complain that there's too long of a wait for the food, but we say the wait is a reassurance that the kitchen is taking time to prepare our meal. Plus, it gave it us time to reflect on the food and just talk. (Definitely don't go here with someone you can't carry a conversation with). We're already looking forward to our next visit!

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  1. FYI the charcuterie is made in house. From your description, it sounds like the butter too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cls

      I read on someone's blog recently (and now I can't find it) that the butter is from France, and that very little of it is exported. I think the name begins with the letter "E" but for the life of me I can't find the info. right now.

        1. re: lizziee

          Thanks. I really liked your review and pictures. C&S is probably one of my two favorite restaurants at the moment (the other being Craft).

    2. Thanks for the report. Beautiful photos. Food look delicious. What camera do you use?

      4 Replies
      1. re: fdb

        For this C&S I used a Canon 5D. However most of my pictures on the blog are from a 20D or 1D. I like to shoot without a flash and use the natural light of the restaurant no matter how dark it may be.

        At C&S we were in a dark corner but I managed to position a small candle to provide most of the ambient light.

        1. re: wesleywong

          Whoa... the 5D is a monster to bring to a restaurant.

          1. re: J.L.

            yea its the only way to shoot without a flash and still have some nice photos. also the colors and the depth is incomparable between an slr and a regular digital

            1. re: wesleywong

              The trusty 40D with a good macro lens is what Mrs. J.L. shoots food with these days. I still like the "concealability" of my old but sure PowerShot.

              Good to talk photography with fellow Hounds every once in a while.

      2. thanks for the review wesleywong... those are some awesome pics!!! nice work

          1. Great pics! and a great review!

            1. Thanks for the support guys!

              I just realized that I spelled Church wrong! That's what I get for rushing through a post. =)

              1. We were there last night - perfect as always. Full post is forthcoming.

                1. Went there a few days ago. They totally improved the service. Even though it was busy, all of our needs were met in a timely and orderly fashion. What a difference a couple of months make.

                  1. Church and State is a wonderful restaurant. Chef Walter Manske does the best charcuterie in Los Angeles. This is not bistro food – just bistro prices. This is a gem of a restaurant and Chef Manske is a superb chef. I didn’t do a lot of text and basically let the photos tell the story.

                    We had
                    Bread and the wondrous Echire butter
                    Fried Salt cod with saffron aioli
                    Kumamoto Oysters
                    Big Eye Tuna Confit, Tomatoes, Basil
                    Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, parsley, cucumber, olives, tomatoes and dots of basil puree
                    Housemade pates and terrines plus pickled vegetables and coarse grain mustard
                    Terrine of foie gras with port wine gelee
                    Asparagus with porcini mushrooms and Porcini brown butter
                    Crispy Pig’s Ear, Sauce Bearnaise
                    Pig’s feet, Wagyu Oxtail, Lentils, Frisee, Bacon lardons

                    This is the ultimate comfort food, executed perfectly. What more can one ask? My only complaint is that I wish it was closer – driving to downtown Los Angeles is a pain.

                    Pics here:

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lizziee

                      Ugh, I wish I could love Church & State without hesitation. it is a fabulous spot and brings so much life to that corner of downtown. Fits the zeitgeist perfectly. But Friday night the service was truly deplorable. We waited 1/2 hour WITH a reservation, got one quick apology, and that was it. There were other factors why the effed-up service was surprising but I don't need to go into detail.

                      Food was terrific, as it's been during my other quick visits there. But an hour and a half from res time to entrees is inexcusable. In all fairness the waiter was polite and helpful WHEN he came around, but those times were few and far between.

                      Oh, and we got gougeres, but no bread and none of the fabled butter!!

                      1. re: lizziee

                        I didn't get the gougeres on my last visit. But oh well, it was a fantastic meal. Never been there on weekends. Nice blog Lizziee.

                        1. re: lizziee

                          William was our server too! Very nice guy. Great personality.