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Church and State...? the ultimate L.A. French Bistro experience??

j
josephnl Mar 20, 2010 08:45 PM

We just had a very nice dinner at Church and State. The food was very good, the service was very good to excellent, and the ambiance was noisy, but pleasant enough. We must say however, that there is a French bistro in southern California, that although a bit of a drive from downtown L.A., dollar for dollar, will absolutely blow C & S out of the water! Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza is a French bistro restaurant that is another league totally from C & S!! The cost will be pretty similar, but for food, service and ambiance, it is my opinion that the two restaurants are in totally different categories. Marche Moderne is a white tablecloth resauarant, with superb food prepared by Florent and Amelia Marneau, in a delightful setting with wonderful service. The cost is pretty similar, but the overall experience is not. Marche Moderne is very definitely a special occasion restaurant which will rarely fail to meet the mark. Church and State is also very good, but is not in the same category. See: http://www.marchemoderne.net/

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Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

  1. JAB Mar 21, 2010 01:42 PM

    MM is perhaps a little too formal for my taste. I could see myself eating there more often if it were less formal. C&S is just too far away for me to eat at more often.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JAB
      f
      foodiemahoodie May 19, 2010 02:46 AM

      Church & State lost their star chef Walter Manzke a few months ago. I'd hate to think that would make such a big difference, but sometimes it does. And maybe it has.

      Haven't been to Marche Moderne, but it's not the same concept as Church & State (which I like a lot.) It looks more contemporary (unlike Church & State's more traditional french fare). I'd suggest you try Cache in Venice for something more along similar lines to Marche, but on the (far) west side.

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      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      Church & State
      1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

      1. re: foodiemahoodie
        j
        josephnl May 19, 2010 10:46 AM

        You are absolutely right that Church & State and Marche Moderne are different conceptually, although each considers itself a French bistro. The major point in my original post, which I still think is correct, was that the cost for dining at both restaurants is pretty similar, and dollar-for-dollar one receives much more at Marche.

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        Marche Moderne
        3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        Church & State
        1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

    2. d
      degustateur Mar 20, 2010 11:52 PM

      Josephnl, your post touches me in two of my favorite spots, namely Church & State and Marche Moderne. I have enjoyed both numerous times yet remain hard-pressed to pit one against the other for better or for worse. Rather, I feel that each occupies its own niche and does so admirably.

      C & S, to me, is more of a brasserie than a bistro. It remains somewhat informal and serves a variety of classical French dishes from sandwiches to bouillabaisse. The clientele is highly diverse and the ambiance and vibe are quite lively, as is the noise level at times. Food and service are both exceptional.

      Marche Moderne is, on the other hand, imho, more of a traditional bistro. Notably, it is family-owned with Florent as hands-on executive chef and his wife, Amelia, as pastry chef. There is both unity and synergy in this arrangement and partnership. This, to me, is what sets MM apart from C & S. The menu, vis a vis C & S, is a bit more upscale, as is the ambience. The clientele may also be a bit more demanding. Again, both food and service are exceptional.

      I feel that, possibly, a more fair comparison could be drawn between C & S and Anisette. Another could be drawn between MM and Tradition by Pascal. For me, C & S and MM would both emerge victorious. If asked which one I prefer eating at, my answer would come easily – whichever one I am closest to at the moment. Fortunately, I live equidistant to both.

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      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      Church & State
      1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

      Tradition by Pascal
      1000 Bristol St N, Newport Beach, CA 92660

      5 Replies
      1. re: degustateur
        j
        josephnl Mar 21, 2010 10:08 AM

        Very well put, and spot on. I guess my main point which I did not state as well as I should have, is that the overall cost at the two restaurants is not too far apart. Although I too like C & S very much (much more than Anisette), dollar for dollar, I really think one receives much more at Marche than at C & S.

        1. re: degustateur
          omotosando May 19, 2010 12:00 AM

          "Food and service are both exceptional." Degustateur, when was the last time you were at Church and State?

          I went this evening and the kitchen was obviously completely out of control and the wait for the food to arrive was probably the worst I have ever experienced in any restaurant ever. Appetizers took a good 35 minutes to arrive and then after our plates were cleared, there was an almost 40 minute wait for the main courses. And I didn't find it a particularly fun place to sit around waiting to eat - the noise level precludes meaningful conversation and the aisles are so narrow that busboys and servers kept bumping in to me.

          Perhaps I ordered wrong, but I didn't like anything. The absolute nadir though was the so-called mesclun salad. It tasted exactly like someone had opened a bag of prewashed supermarket salad greens and threw on a bit of bottled salad dressing. I would say it was the worst salad I have ever had in a restaurant that has pretensions of being a serious or semi-serious restaurant.

          The only way I would ever return to Church and State is in the unlikely event I moved into one of the condos upstairs. I definitely regretted the time and effort to drive there from the Westside.

          1. re: omotosando
            g
            globalgourmet May 19, 2010 01:34 AM

            Took a friend to C & S last month after hearing so much about it. It was a major disappointment. We were surprised that our meals arrived separately but assumed that was to serve them both hot. Wrong. Our food was lukewarm at best and was equaled by mediocre service. Needless to say, we will not be returning.

            Bummer.

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            Church & State
            1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

            1. re: omotosando
              d
              degustateur May 19, 2010 09:48 AM

              Sad to hear of your disappointment, omotosando. I have not been to C & S since Walter Manzke departed and Joshua Smith took over as executive chef. I wonder how much of the staff has remained, a key influence to fluidity from back to front of the house.

              If your and globalgourmet’s experiences indeed reflect the general sentiment, I truly feel for Yassmin Sarmadi, now principal owner of C & S after buying out partner Steven Arroyo late last year. Yassmin is a wonderful woman with great heart and drive and I know that she has channeled both into Church & State. She has much at stake in its future.

              I plan to re-visit and touch bases soon.

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              Church & State
              1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

              1. re: degustateur
                omotosando May 19, 2010 01:35 PM

                I guess they are doing okay despite the departure of Walter Manzke, since the place was packed on a Tuesday night.

                Mostly, although not exclusively, a very young crowd. And to be fair, most people gave off the vibe of being delighted about being packed into a noisy environment to hang with friends. Very post-collegiate vibe - hey, I graduated from college and I live in a big city and I can go to these cool places to drink and hang with friends. The place may be just fine for that demographic. Dining is not always necessarily about the food or the service (although for me, it generally is, but then I'm not 20 something anymore).

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