Bonjour, mes beaux amis!
It’s an early Saturday morning here in LA, and it’s going to be a busy weekend for me with all of the wedding stuff. But my better half and I kicked off the weekend perfectly with a Friday night dinner date at LA’s République. We’re still talking about it – and planning our next visit.
Housed in the expanded location of the former LA favorite Campanile (and former location of Charlie Chaplin’s office and studio!), chef and owner Walter Manzke (of Patina, Bastide and Church and State fame) and his wife Marge have created a delightful loft-like but cozy french bistro that now includes the previous La Brea Bakery space. The awesome tall glass ceilings flood the restaurant with natural light everywhere, and on a beautiful summer night we didn’t really want to stop staring at the sky above, or at the food in front of us. The family style small plates are certainly French in origin with local touches that feel much grander than their reasonable prices. And you won’t leave hungry – in fact, we took home leftovers.
The kitchen is actually all around the dining area – you’re first greeted with an oyster bar and meat counter where the charcuterie and meat appetizers are prepared. Fresh bread bakes in another corner, while a busy staff works a wood burning oven and rotisserie in another corner. We were immediately transported to the busy bistro kitchens in Paris, and I’m sure that was Walter Manzke’s plan all along.
Raw Zucchini Salad with Hazelnuts & Cherry Tomatoes
We started off with the Burrata Crostini and the Charcuterie Board, which could have easily been the end of the night because they were both so filling and delicious. The burrata was fresh and abundant, and paired with the melon and prosciutto, it was the perfect summer dish. The charcuterie board’s beautiful presentation made our eyes swoon, and the varied flavors were extraordinary. The duck mousse with cherries was amazing – pungent like liver but finished off perfectly sweet from the seasonal cherry sauce. With four different types of pâté including duck, rabbit (my personal favorite), venison and ham, topped along a freshly baked baguette slice, there was absolutely no going wrong. And yet, there was more coming.
The brussel sprouts, which are now enjoying their own culinary celebrity (finally!), stood out as a plate of their own. Roasted with butter and cooked perfectly, they were al dente and sweet without the slightest bitterness which so often happens when they have gone past that point of no overcoked return. Along with the bacon and soft egg, which complimented rather than overpowered, we wondered how bacon, eggs and brussel sprouts haven’t been the breakfast staple for centuries…
Again, we could have easily stopped at this point, but why stop!! The raw zucchini salad with arugula, hazelnuts and cherry tomatoes was tossed in a light olive oil and vinegar dressing, and introduced the rotisserie chicken entree, which we had gazed upon while cooking during the evening. Some might turn their nose up to a slow roasted chicken when they go out to eat, but turn not your nose up to this one. Crispy skin and juicy throughout, I kept thinking about how delightful this humble dish is, and wondering if my chicken at home could ever compare. And if not, who cares – I can just WALK to République to get my chicken fix!
As much as we miss Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton’s Campanile, we are more than pleased with République. Dare I say, it might easily become our new favorite bistro in town.
♥ – LBH