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Leftovers: Church & State

Breaking away from the brasserie pack downtown:


Church & State is the odd bistro out in L.A.’s recent brasserie boom – an uncomplicated place that fits downtown’s still-indelicate fringe. While Anisette, for example, pursues Old World grandeur, Church & State monopolizes modernity. It’s a methodically simple restaurant spread out on the ground floor of the Biscuit Company lofts, where it brings the rest of downtown right inside. Its bare brick floors, strings of slumping lights and Skullphone paste-ups approximate the atmosphere of an alleyway as much as an ornate bistro.

But as the least formal of the brasserie pack, Church & State remains undervalued. That neglect might derive from the fact that under its opening chef, the food simply fell a little flat. Or perhaps it stems from attached restaurateur Steven Arroyo – eaters may have been worried that the restaurant was quietly working to become yet another Cobras & Matadors. Whatever the cause, Church & State is now disproving doubters. Walter Manzke, formerly of Bastide, has the kitchen fulfilling its promise. Now, Church & State is on the ascent. It’s a genuine French bistro all the way down to the bone marrow.

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