Archive for the 'Church and State – Downtown LA' Category

Church and State

This was Walter Manzke’s last day at Church and State. To say we will miss him is a huge understatement. He has elevated the cuisine at Church and State to one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. He is not leaving LA and does have another opportunity to showcase his wonderful cuisine. When it becomes a reality, you can be assured we will be there. Stay tuned!

Walter and sous chef, Allen Berkay

William, our wonderful waiter who patiently describes every dish to me

Not pictured – Jeremiah, the new sommelier who did a wonderful job

Not pictured -Yassmin, owner,  who was equally as gracious. Ironies of ironies it turns out Yassmin lives very close to us, went to school with Andy Kirschner who we just “discovered” at Wilshire restaurant and has similar tastes in restaurants that we like and don’t like.

BYO Champagne

Gougeres – hot and perfectly cheesy

Kumomoto Oysters

I don’t need to add a lot of commentary of the oyster as the photo says it all

This echire butter from Normandy is just perfect

We got to Church and State just as they opened so Walter had a chance to visit a bit. He showed us his new knife – a beauty from Japan. What a gorgeous knife and what a wonderful person.

Fried salt cod ( or what use to be referred to as cod beignet) sitting on a bed of saffron aioli – crispy outer coating and smooth and delicate cod inside – almost mousse-like in texture

Hamachi Cru – raw yellow tail with blood orange, tomato, fleur de sel, chives and olive oil  – I am guessing the yellowtail was cut with Walter’s incredible knife

BYO White Wine

Tartine d’Oursin – Sea Urchin on a bed of white bean aioli, a touch of espellete pepper on a toasted crouton  – this is an OH MY dish

Gambas a la Grenobloise – The Santa Barbara spot prawns had been alive 60 seconds ago, according to Walter. It was done with brown butter, lemon and capers – the prawns were cooked to perfection – not the slightest bit of rubbery overdoness

The roe from the prawns was to die for plus I ate every feeler

BYO White wine

Dover Sole, Morel mushrooms, Spinach Puree, Morel mushroom sauce – this dish screamed spring even though March had come in a like a lion in Los Angeles. The sole was perfection as were the morels.

Snails baked in garlic and parsley butter topped with pastry

The snail revealed

BYO Red Wine

Now the huge and I mean huge charcuterie board

Other than the salumi, everything is made in house

Country style pate of duck liver

Duck legs and pork rillette with port

Salumi – 3 different kinds – pistachio, fennel and black pepper with cornichons, radish smeared with butter and a dusting of sea salt and pickled vegetables or legumes a la greque

Duck, cherries, hazelnuts pate, Rabbit and pistachio pate, Pate de Campagne , Jambon Persillade

Foie Gras topped with port, brioche, baguette bread and olives and dijon mustard

Up close – the radish – Church and State’s charcuterie board is one of the best in Los Angeles not only for variety but also for execution.

BYO Red Wine

Pied de Cochon – Pork Shoulder and feet, lentils, frisee aux lardons topped with a poached egg – how many ways can I say delicious?

Roasted Bone Marrow with a small dish of parsley, shallot and radish to use as a topping on the baguette

We were suppose to have a pork dish, but we got very full and decided to deep six that dish.

What a marvelous meal and what a marvelous evening. It is with great sadness that I bid adieu to Walter at Church and State, but I look forward to his new adventure.

Church and State

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 am going to let the photos tell the story – everything was delicious.


BYO Champagne



The menu






Bread and the wondrous Echire butter



Fried Salt cod


cod with sauce

The saffron aioli served with the salt cod – the best aioli


white wine

BYO White Wine



Kumamoto Oysters



Big Eye Tuna Confit, Tomatoes, Basil


tuna on toast

The tuna confit spread on croutons



Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, parsley, cucumber, olives, tomatoes and dots of basil puree


cute guy

Our cute server, William





charcuterie 1

Close-up of charcuterie


charcuterie 2

Close-up of housemade pates and terrines plus pickled vegetables and coarse grain mustard



Terrine of foie gras with port wine gelee


red wine

BYO Red Wine



Asparagus with porcini mushrooms and Porcini brown butter


pig's ear

Crispy Pig’s Ear, Sauce Bearnaise


egg with pig 1

Pig’s feet, Wagyu Oxtail, Lentils, Frisee, Bacon lardons


egg runny with pig

The lovely runny yolk

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.

Church and State – Downtown LA

This restaurant is just getting better and better. The sourcing of the ingredients is extraordinary and way above bistro quality.


How many bistros do you know that serve echire butter? From their website: “A famed artisan French butter, from the milk of cows of the small village of Poitiers and La Rochelle. Known as one of the best butters in France, Echire butter is served in the finest dining establishments (which is why the French covet this butter and keep 85% of the production within France). This sophisticated butter won AOC protected status, and is produced mostly by hand. A light texture, light salting and subtle flavor make this butter just about divine.”



Light as air gougeres



Salt cod beignets with saffron aioli. These are addictive and the aioli (not pictured) would make Chef Manzke a fortune.




Iced Kumamoto Oysters – I love Kumamoto oysters and anyone can say what’s the big deal about oysters on the half shell as long as they are fresh. Well, if you shell them badly you end up with grit. These were shelled perfectly!


white wine

BYO White Wine



Sardines, cherry tomatoes, white beans, arugula – an absolutely A+ dish. The white beans were actually a puree with rosemary, sage and olive oil. The dish was a bottom layer of toasted bread, then the white bean puree, then the sardines, the cherry tomatoes and topped with a bit of arugula – OH MY.



Gambas a la Nicoise – Santa Barbara spot prawns with cucumber, tomato, olives and a saucing of olive oil and lemon. We had these the last time we were at Church and State and what I wrote last time still applies: “look at the dice on the vegetables – it could have come out of the French Laundry kitchen.”


red wine at Church

BYO Red Wine



chacu 1

Pate de campagna with green peppercorns, Duck liver with hazelnuts, Jambon persillade, rabbit pate, saucisson sec – wild boar and one with black truffles that cost $30 a pound – bistro – not even close.



Rillettes de Porc – Berkshire pork, prune confiture  – this was even better than last time – absolutely perfect


foie at Church

Terrine de Foie Gras, port wine gelee – delicious



Brioche, Croutons and Pickled vegetables with the foie, rillettes and charcuterie


asparagus at Church

Hog Farm’s Asparagus, Morel Mushrooms, Poached Egg and a glorious mushroom/stock jus – this was one of the best asparagus spears I have ever tasted and Chef Manzke said it was his favorite. Again, this is just not bistro food – The sourcing of this is asapargus is extraordinary. Hog’s farms is the brainchild of Ray Franscioni who also owns Gary’s vineyards.

Ray and Dan Franscioni
PO Box 7537
Spreckels, CA

Markets: Aptos, Monterey and Carmel

Products: Asparagus

History/Philosophy: Hog Farms got its name years ago when owner Ray Franscioni first drove out to see the property where we would eventually plant asparagus. As he tells it, the first thing he saw when he pulled up (besides the beautiful land, of course) was a pen with two HUGE hogs in it. He knew what he would name the farm right then and there. The hogs are no longer at the farm, but their spirit definitely lives on!

The farm was established over 30 years ago. Ray and Dan are second generation farmers and third generation when it comes to sales and marketing of the produce grown at the farm. In addition to asparagus, Hog Farms grows artichokes, spinach and mixed baby greens.

 Gary Franscioni
Gary’s roots in the Santa Lucia Highlands are quite deep. His family has farmed here for over 100 years. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in agribusiness, Franscioni took over management of the family farm business, which owned and managed more than 200 acres of row crops in the Salinas Valley. Recognizing the region’s potential for premium wine grapes, Franscioni turned his focus to viticulture. He and long time friend Gary Pisoni partnered on the Garys’ Vineyard in 1997. In 1996 Gary planted the 50-acre Rosella’s Vineyard – named for his wife – on their estate property just a few miles north of the Garys’ Vineyard. Both vineyards are among the most celebrated and coveted in California. 



Turbot, English peas, Apple smoked bacon, Meyer lemon, Shimeji mushrooms – the turbot was cooked perfectly, but the “veggie” accompaniments were extraordinary.

turbot up close

Turbot – up close



Cassoulet de Toulouse – duck confit, pork belly, pork shoulder sausage, white beans – I was getting very full – this is not food for the faint of heart. I ate a bit of this, but then asked for a doggie bag and this was my Mother’s Day dinner – who needs France when you have Chef Manzke in the kitchen.

This is a wonderful restaurant and I only wish it was closer to the westside.

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.

Church and State – Downtown LA

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

Josh 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


Rabbit balontine with pistachio and herbs de Provance
Wild Canadian goose pate with black trumpet mushrooms and green peppercorn
Jambon persil (ham, pigs feet and parsley)
Duck ham
Terrine of blood and tongue
Three salamis (one wild boar, two Berkshire pork)




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


Pickled Vegetables – close-up



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 (not pictured as they were off to the side) 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 Alsacian Chef Eric Klein.



Eric’s tart


Now compare Comme Ca’s tart – burnt edges and no where near as good.




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



Don’t have a clue – chocolate something, fruit something and bread pudding something

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