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Pig's ears are the hot topic today as Jonathan Gold's tackles downtown new(ish)comer Church & State, declaring chef Walter Manzke's pig's ears the best he has ever tried. But the restaurant didn't start off with high accolades. Headed by the original chef "the food was predictably less accomplished than the vibe," but since Manzke took over the kitchen, the "artists’ brasserie" has become an establishment that, for one, SIV gave a three-star review in March. Short ribs are cooked sous vide "to an almost jellylike consistency," the tarte flambé is "so thin and crisp that it practically shatters when you look at it," and a plate of Santa Barbara prawns tastes "good enough that a friend insisted a nonseafood-eating pal take at least a small bite, and compelling enough that she ended up eating every molecule of her first shrimp in more than 30 years." Gold questions whether Church & State serves the most refined bistro cooking in LA, then answers himself saying, "At the moment, it just might." [LAW]

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