This week, Jonathan Gold considers The Church Key, the restaurant cheffed by Steven Fretz that's been barely open for six weeks. Gold gives the cart-based, cocktail-heavy eatery some pointers, but the criticism isn't doled out in large servings. On Fretz's cooking:
You probably should order a couple of dishes from the printed menu, which includes a sort of riceless bibimbap with crisped lardons of pork belly, sliced radishes and a slug of the Korean chile paste gochujang; potato pirogi loaded with crème fraîche and apple butter; and crunchy fried snapper in a tapioca crust ... a sour, clumpy "truffled" cavatelli Alfredo and a mushy "Peking" quail stuffed with a wet wad of rice might be better left alone.
You are probably here for the carts, wheeled to the table every few minutes, bearing Koi-style sashimi plates of cleverly dressed raw salmon, albacore or hamachi; tuna tartare on crunchy piers of rice ... The dish everybody is talking about is probably the "Cheetos," fried pig's ears blown out by some mysterious process into featherlight shards whose texture actually resembles that of the heavily advertised snack, served with a little dish of uncannily aerated guacamole.Also notable, the Pan-Am carts (a little random), pushed by uniformed stewardesses, serve alcoholic Kool Pops of the 1990s in flavors like Sex on the Beach and Appletini. [LAT]
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
LA Weekly critic Besha Rodell files on Republique, the French bistro from Walter and Margarita Manzke. Stating that the official review won't come out until the back area is completed some time early next year, Rodell nevertheless delves into the dishes, most of which were pulled from Manzke's successful run at Church & State in Downtown: "Already, the charcuterie at Republique is up there with some of the best in the city, particularly the more rustic pâtés ... I'm assuming that Manzke's creative side will come out with the more formal tasting menus to come, but for now his traditionalist takes on French classics are pretty swell. [LAW]
The Elsewhere: Midtown Lunch tries the amazing short rib stews at Sun Nong Dan, Gourmet Pigs checks out The Factory Kitchen, Food GPS tries the aptly named Third Street Restaurant , kevinEats at Republique, Gastronomy gorges at chi SPACCA, and e*starLA hits Open Sesame.