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LA Times Critic Fawns Over Republique, LA’s Most Well-Rounded Restaurant

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Plus positive words for Margot, Dear John’s, Konbi, and OC’s Fable & Spirit

Republique’s Walter and Margarita Manzke pose in denim aprons in front of their soaring atrium dining room.
Margarita Manzke and Walter Manzke of Republique
Elizabeth Daniels

It’s been a busy week for restaurant reviews, despite the LA Times only putting out one large-format recommendation piece instead of its usual double-critique-header. Bill Addison spends plenty of works this week talking about Republique, the true Swiss army knife restaurant of Los Angeles, focusing on the place’s ability to get even small details extraordinarily right.

Here’s Addison on the supremacy of a sweet breakfast at Republique:

The cream pie is the ideal summer dessert, a free-form trifle of whipped cream, vanilla custard and fruit tumbled into a pre-baked crust. A second pie of peaches and blackberries with a streusel topping is a true breakfast pie, its sweetness restrained. The staff takes care to warm a chicken hand pie before delivering it; the early September version includes the gentle crunch of fresh corn.

None of Margarita’s pastries is too pretty to eat. They’re meant for unaffected enjoyment. The artistry comes through in the contrast of textures, the tension between sweet and acid, the purposeful, relaxed appeal of the shapes.

Addison goes on to adore just about everything inside Republique, where “disappointments are rare” and the menu concentrates “on the fundamentals of California cuisine.” And then there’s this loving paragraph:

Six years in, the Manzkes have perfected the template for the all-day modern American restaurant. The place is a perpetual motion machine. The lines trail daily at breakfast; the lunch menu embodies an only-in-Los-Angeles pluralism; dinnertime achieves an elegant, gymnastic leap from casual daytime meals to formal service. It gratifies many palates and persuasions.

A dimly-lit, red-tinged old school steakhouse dining room, ringed with paintings.
Inside Dear John’s
Wonho Frank Lee

Meanwhile, Bon Appetit penned its own LA ode, this one to Dear John’s in Culver City. Writer Alex Beggs calls the temporary dinnertime throwback “so quintessential American steakhouse it could be a movie prop,” and gives adoring nods to the tableside Caesar salad and, of course, the steaks. It’s worth mentioning again that the magazine also gave out its best new restaurant awards this week, and Echo Park’s Konbi landed at number one.

Over at TimeOut Los Angeles, Simon Majumdar dropped three-out-of-five stars on Margot at the Platform in Culver City. The rooftop restaurant and lounge excels at brunch, says the critic, though at just about all hours of the day the place is “suitably targeted at its trendy clientele and mostly succeeds in providing well-executed and well-sourced dishes to sizable crowds.”

And, finally, down in Orange County, James Beard Foundation Award-winning writer Brad A. Johnson says that the “beautiful” Fable & Spirit in Newport Beach is the perfect place for chef David Shofner to find his moment. “After six visits I’m still not bored,” says Johnson, even though he often “hate(s) menus that ramble on and on... This is easily one of the best new restaurants of the year.”

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