After a relatively quick one-month turnaround, Church & State is open again as of last night, bringing a dimly-lit Parisian bistro atmosphere to a now-classic Arts District space. One could argue this is now the fourth iteration of the former Nabisco building loading dock (there’s still a slight incline to the room). The first version of Church & State came from Steven Arroyo, who opened the place back in 2008. Walter Manzke came on as chef before he went on to implement a similar approach to La Brea’s incredibly popular Republique. Then owner Yassmin Sarmadi brought on her husband Tony Esnault (former chef of Patina) to run the bistro’s kitchen until it closed in late April.
Then Bill Chait, Taylor Parsons, and chef David Féau took over as partners, yearning for the glory days of when Church & State was the hot new restaurant that put the formerly unknown Arts District onto the Angeleno dining map.
The new Church & State looks more or less the same, with the same tightly packed chairs and tables inside. Gone are the strong red colors and hanging lights, and in are more tasteful, mellowed interior details. It still looks and feels like a classic Parisian bistro, with full-sized windows to let in LA’s indelible city light.
Féau, formerly of The Royce Wood-fired Steakhouse and Wally’s Beverly Hills, has assembled the modern bistro menu inspired by the seasonality and international flavors of LA, but grounded in French cooking. Red quinoa and forbidden rice coats a whole avocado with some paper-thin slices of mango on the side. It feels strange to eat, but a forkful of the tender avocado with the crispy shell is a stroke of pure deliciousness.
Lightly dressed market vegetables come with a tarragon dressing, while the tart flambé recalls a similar dish on Manzke’s menu. Féau’s main dishes shine, with a literal glistening grilled hanger steak coupled with a knob of roasted bone marrow and a bright blackberry and kale salad to bring it all together. A seared tuna piperade harkens to the south of France and LA’s more Mediterranean climate, with beefy-looking chunks of yellowfin tuna placed over stewed peppers and potatoes. A pillowy Grand Marnier souffle is a showstopping way to end the meal.
Church & State opened yesterday and will serve from 5 to 10 p.m., Monday to Thursday, closing at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with eventual Sunday and brunch service. Reservations available on OpenTable.
Church & State. 1850 Industrial St, Los Angeles, CA 90021.