Church and State – Downtown LA

Walter Manske constructed a fabulous meal at Church and State. Originally, I thought I would order some of our favorites from last time, but wisely changed my mind and just let Walter cook and we would eat. Unfortunately, I got full too soon as there were so many dishes I wanted to try.

What makes Walter’s cuisine so extraordinary is that this is not ordinary bistro food – you are immediately aware that you have a star chef in the kitchen from the saucing to the prep of the vegetables. In Walter’s hands a casual bistro restaurant doesn’t mean a casualness in the kitchen. Instead you are having a multi-starred meal in a casual atmosphere.


Walter Manske – chef extraordinaire



The open kitchen



The room


We had wonderful service, orchestrated by Josh.




Amuse – gougeres – perfect



Beignets de Brandade de Morue, salt cod, saffron aioli – these were light as a feather – no grease, lightly battered with a sauce that was 4 star. Walter should bottle his aioli and sell it. He would make a fortune.



Notice how fluffy the salt cod is and how luscious the aioli.



Kumamoto Oysters from Washington State with a classical mignonette – a small oyster fork was provided, but I just slurp oysters!



Smoked herring on a fingering potato salad topped with frisee, a caper and carrot – this was an A+ – the fingerling potato salad was more like a compact cake and the herring was absolutely incredible. I could have eaten 4 of these.



Seared tuna, potato fourchette (fork-mashed potatoes), arugula, olives, tomatoes, leeks 



Notice how perfectly the tuna is cooked and how beautiful the sauce is.



Walter in the middle of service – major concentration



Gambas a la Nicoise – Santa Barbara spot prawns with cucumber, tomato, olives with a saucing of olive oil and lemon. These spot pawns were alive 30 seconds before being served! The reason that Church and State is so much more than a bistro is look at the dice on the vegetables – it could have come out of the French Laundry kitchen.




From left to right – duck ham (not pictured as we ate it too quickly), duck with duck liver, rabbit gallatine, jamon persillade, squab with green peppercorn, pate de campagne with wild mushrooms, sauccison sec, pork with pistachio – I think Church and State has one of the finest charcuterie plates in Los Angeles – the main reason these are housemade.


Close- up


Pickled vegetables



Terrine de Foie Gras with Port wine gelee – another absolute winner



Snails baked in garlic and parsley butter in a puff pastry shell – I was one very happy camper.



Tarte Flambee with caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere cheese – Comme Ca needs to take lessons from Chef Manske



Roasted Marrow Bone


Croutons for the Marrow Bone


Radish and parsley salad – we were instructed to spread the roasted bone marrow on the crouton and top it with some of the radish and parsley salad – ingenious as the radish cuts some of the fattiness of the marrow while adding a bite and texture that is wonderful.



Baby Sonoma lamb – sweetbreads, tongue, belly, beans


Just look at that gorgeous tongue plus beans to die for and a saucing that would make any chef proud.

Unfortunately, I was getting very full so we cut Walter off. But the menu had so many items that I wish that I could have tried  —- Pig’s feet with lentils, Crispy Pig’s Ear with Bearnaise, Loup de mer Grenobloise, even the roast chicken!



Apricot Tart


My final verdict – run, don’t walk to Church and State.


2 Responses to “Church and State – Downtown LA”

  1. 1 davesch April 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Great review. I totally agree…I thought it was not only one of the best bistros in all of LA, but actually one of the best restaurants in all of LA. I just hope to heck that Walter stays put there.

  2. 2 lizziee April 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I also agree that Church and State is one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

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