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Church & State or AOC?

Which place do you recommend for a birthday dinner for a group of 4? Church and State or AOC? The following night we are going to Bottega Louie.. so trying to figure out which would be better to go the night before.. any recommendations and also what to order.

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  1. Church and State is amazing so I would go with that choice... FYI- Bottega's food was just ok last time I went...

    1. Church & State has been my favorite LA restaurant since it opened well over a year ago. With the imminent departure of Chef Walter Manzke (his wife and pastry chef Marge has already left) to pursue his dream, it remains to be seen whether it will stay so. I think it will. I have been assured by now sole owner Yassmin Sarmadi (she bought out partner Steven Arroyo late last year) that no immediate changes are planned under incoming Chef Joshua Smith, formerly of Anisette. It is a classically French Bistro. The concept is working and they intend to keep it as such. Let’s hope that enough of the current kitchen staff remains to ensure a smooth transition and continuity thereafter.

      AOC has elements of a bistro, but is a little more free form with its focus upon offering small plates, tapas if you will, in conjunction with an excellent wine selection dispensed from its cruvinet wine storage system. AOC has matured well under the same ownership and survived, possibly even benefited from, previous changes in the kitchen. I’ve enjoyed every dining occasion there through the years and look to continue doing so in the future.

      Both restaurants are somewhat constrained in space and seating, with AOC perhaps a bit more so. I tend to feel a bit confined or crowded out when dining there, but still comfortable. Food and service are outstanding at both venues, while overall ambience appeal, imho, is tipped in favor of C & S. Its location and overall vibe are really superb.

      I cannot comment on Bottega Louie since I’ve yet to dine there.

      As for your birthday party for four, or most any other occasion for that matter, my vote goes to and stays with Church & State. I’ve eaten at C & S far more times in the past year than I have in seven years at AOC. This was by no means due to necessity. Rather it was, and remains, my choice. I trust that Church & State will prevail its transition and amply meet your party’s needs. It is truly phenomenal.

      1. Bottega Louie is more scene than restaurant. It's very noisy and service is quite variable.

        1. AOC. Their menu is much more interesting than C&S and service feels more professionally-run. Church & State is OK, but overhyped and overpriced for small portions of basic French bistro food. The service at Church & State is also very lacking. C&S does have an edgier ambience if that is more important to you

          1. Bottega Louie is far too noisy for eating - One needs to shout when talking. Dismiss that thought and try Drago Centro. And, I'd go to Church & State, not AOC.


            1. DEFINITELY Church & State, before Manzke leaves the helm. Awesome food. Bone marrow, pig's ear frisee salad, flat bread, pate, duck confit. Just go.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Phurstluv

                I believe Chef Manzke has already left, I think last Saturday was his last day.

                1. re: baloney

                  Thanks for the recommendations.. .Church & State it is..anything in particular I should order?

                  Now I don't know what to do about Bottega Louie.. I've heard good things about it.. I know we will have to wait because there's going to be 12 of us. Any other recommendations? Good food.. reasonable priced?

                  1. re: bbmakris

                    Church and State is a very good choice. My favorite dishes - Assiette de Charcuterie - all the pates are made in house, the Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, if you like uni the Tartine d'Oursin, the Roasted Bone Marrow, the terrine de Foie Gras, if they have it the pig's ears, the salade frisee with the soft poached egg, the pied de cochon just to name a few.

                    Pics here:

                    1. re: bbmakris

                      Church & State is a very solid choice. My favorite menu items, in order of preference:

                      Crispy pig’s ears
                      Foie Gras
                      Duck Confit
                      Santa Barbara Spot Prawns
                      Braised Beef Short Rib
                      Roasted Bone Marrow
                      Kumomoto Oysters
                      Salade Frisée w/Lardons & Poached Egg
                      Mac ‘n Cheese

                      … Yeah, pretty much the whole menu. Everything is fabulous. I have never made it as far as dessert.

                      p.s. Make sure to request the A.O.C. French Butter (Echiré). It’s in another league versus the house selection.