Church and State has received endless praise since Walter Manzke's start and rightly so, the food is good. And that is the saving grace for this bistro.
Church and State is located on the corner of the Biscuit Lofts, which is the old National Biscuit Company, or Nabisco, building. This is not the greatest part of Downtown LA and it's going to be a long time before the area gentrifies, if ever.
Church and State reminds me of the bistros I visited in Paris during a different part of my life. Small and intimate, with tables very close to each other, you are going to make friends with your neighbors, unless that is they annoy you, in which case you'll hate the setup. A suggestion to mitigate the risk: if you're a two top, ask for a table along the back wall or along the windows. These tables will afford you some amount of privacy. Then again, the music will be just loud enough that you still won't be able to hear each other.
If you are looking to experience all the raved about dishes, and specifically the crispy pig's ear, Sunday might not be the best day for a trip to Church and State. Although it's not listed on Opentable or on their website, Sunday's menu is prix fixe only with a few à la carte items and it does not always include the crispy pig's ear. Disappointing? Yes. But I am flexible and can roll with the punches. Just a thought though, it'd be nice if your patrons were aware of Sunday's more limited options.
A nice start to the evening.
I love carbs. It runs in my genes.
Sounds heavy, but it was actually light and refreshing. If anyone has tips on taking better soup photos, please holler.
The oysters are from the à la carte menu.
Light and flaky, the pear and brie went well together. Would it be uncouth to call this a pizza? Oh wait, Italian...French, nevermind. I did a quick google search "define:tart" and discovered that tart also means prostitute. I had no idea. You learn something new everyday.
The bone marrow was another à la carte dish. These bones looked beautiful and tasted great with the crostini. My mouth waters reminiscing about these bones. My dog also loved them. His mouth also waters staring at this picture.
I'm a big fan of salmon skin. The filet was tender while the skin was nice and crispy.
Juicy and tender.
The steak came with a side of perfectly crisped pomme frites. Can a guy get a side of ketchup once in a while?
It only makes sense that I, a lover of Belgian beer, would also be a lover of Brussels sprouts. I know they are no longer grown there, but I can appreciate the connection. On a side note, is it Brussel or Brussels? It seems open for debate.
I'm not an expert, but they all tasted great.
My drink of choice for the evening.
There is one aspect of the meal that warrants a little more in-depth coverage: the service. I wrote earlier that the saving grace of Church and State is the food and the reason is that the service certainly isn't going to garner any awards. We had a Sunday reservation for 6:15p and arrived by 6:25p. When I checked in with the hostess, she looked our reservation up and promptly informed me that I was late and that our reservation was canceled but that she would try to seat us. The wait though, would be approximately 25 minutes. Yes, we were 10 minutes late, but to cancel our reservation so soon? Somewhat odd. But again, I was the one that was late.
Even more odd was when I looked around the restaurant: seven empty two tops. I figured with the popularity of the restaurant, there were probably seven reservations coming in. This is what I get for being late right? Wrong. Twenty five minutes later, and not a single party having walked through the door, the hostess retrieved us from the bar and seated us. A quick glance around the room revealed: six empty two tops. So the hostess made the decision that for being ten minutes late, we needed to wait an additional twenty five minutes. Makes total sense right? Not really. While writing this, I decided to surf the web for more reviews of Church and State and discovered that my encounter with the hostess was more the norm and rather than the exception. This is disappointing considering the exceptional food that is coming out of the kitchen. I'd email the restaurant directly with my experience, but alas, no email contact information on their website.
Service issues aside, so long as Walter Manzke continues to put out good food, the people will come, as will the occasional taco truck (I kid). There is no doubt the food is fantastic, and that will be its saving grace.
Church and State Bistro
1850 Industrial Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021