1) Today, Miss Irene returns to a revamped Church & State, where she firmly positions herself on the Walter Manzke bandwagon. The talented chef—who, let it be known, apparently has an "old-fashioned kind of face" (??)—is firing on all cylinders in a new downscale environment that seems to suit him just fine:
After a rocky start that ended in the original chef leaving, the restaurant is really humming. Manzke is throwing himself into the bistro genre with gusto. He's making his own charcuterie. He's changing the menu every few days. He's in the zone.From the stripped down menu to the French comfort food options, The Notorious SIV likes what she sees, and let's face it, Manzke can cook. Thus, along with the declaration that Church & State possesses "the heart and soul of a true French bistro married to an authentic sense of place," it's a three-star affair this morning. [LAT]
2) In a very special visit out west, Times critic Frank Bruni dedicates not one but two full reviews to LA restaurants. Up first, the Bazaar, which he names as the first honoree in his national series of Outstanding Newcomers: "Of several places I checked out recently in and around Los Angeles, the Bazaar turned out the most accomplished food ... I loved both of the dinners, despite occasionally amateurish service and desserts that didn’t fully live up to what preceded them. Most of the rest of the food I had was extraordinary, its preparation and presentation meticulous, its effect mesmerizing." [NYT]
3) The Brunz also stops by Animal, or as he puts it, "carniwhore school." It's not quite good enough to warrant a place on the aforementioned list but it's still impressive in its own right and gives Frankieboy an opportunity for some fun analogies: "Animal isn’t a great restaurant, or at least it wasn’t when I tried it. But it’s the epitome of a promiscuously meaty approach to cooking that might well be called the carniwhore school." [NYT]
THE ELSEWHERE & THE BLOGS: Metromix is sparked by sensory questions at Umami Burger, Dig Lounge takes an early look at Magnolia Downtown, Foodventures is at Golden State, Eat:LA stops by the new Santa Monica Seafood, and LAist finds a real bistro in Comme Ca.