A bit of Paris in downtown L.A.
STEVEN ARROYO has a remarkable track record of picking the right spot for his string of restaurants, including three Cobras & Matadors. He’s also a quick study when it comes to creating a look for each place -- and his latest venture is no exception.
Church & State occupies the former loading dock of downtown L.A.’s Nabisco Biscuit Co. Building, which dates from 1925 but has been recently renovated to create a series of lofts and this working-class French bistro. “Incongruous,” you might say, in a neighborhood where loft dwellers may not feel comfortable walking their dogs late at night too far from the bright-lights, big-city look of this end of Industrial Street.
But what a wonderful find this is in the outer reaches of downtown’s arts district. Old subway tiles line the walls. Potted plants define the oh-so-French sidewalk terrace out front. And piazza lights strung across the ceiling of the large space create a festive atmosphere just as much as the terrific downtown mix of people eating and drinking.
It’s very early days, and yet the place is jammed, at least on a weekend night. It’s high-energy and fun, and the kitchen is working double time, which is hard, because the menu is so large. Church & State proposes everything from oysters on the half shell (served too warm), caviar and chilled shellfish platters to house-made charcuterie, cheese plates and pasta. The menu mostly concentrates on the classics -- onion soup, escargot, steak tartare, duck confit, skate and, of course, pommes frites.
The execution can be shaky yet. Boeuf bourguignon is textbook-delicious, and the duck confit is good. But the charcuterie could have more flavor. And what’s with the pissaladiere category, which does not include the traditional southern French pizza-like dough topped with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies? Instead, we get a very tough flatbread, which is really a sort of tarte flambee -- topped with onions, bacon and creme fraiche.
Wines come by the half-glass, glass and bottle -- and they’re all French. Lunchtime, wander down to this charming newcomer and try a French dish or two with a glass of wine.
Church & State, 1850 Industrial St., L.A. Lunch, noon-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; dinner, 6-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 6-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Wine and beer. Guarded lot parking, $4. Seafood appetizers, $6-$75; charcuterie, $8-$20; hors d’oeuvres, $6-$16; main courses, $18-$26; sides, $6. (213) 405-1434.
The Guide on the Web
Visit The Guide, our tipsheet to SoCal entertainment, for more picks, listings and reader reviews at theguide.latimes.com.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.