At République, the bell tower-topped church of a restaurant on La Brea Avenue that was once Campanile, there are many things you could order for dessert after you’ve polished off chef-owner Walter Manzke’s roast chicken or his massive cassoulet. Pastry chef Margarita Manzke, who was recently nominated for a James Beard award, makes a pretty spectacular chocolate cake, in addition to the catalog of lovely things that fill the pastry cases.
If you have not yet, order the chocolate fondant cake. It’s kind of like a flourless chocolate cake in a ceramic bowl. The dessert will arrive hot from the oven, strewn with hazelnuts and topped with a quenelle of ice cream just beginning to melt, rather like the yolk of a 63-degree egg on top of, well, anything these days. Margarita, an alum of Spago, Patina, Mélisse and Bastide (in case you too like to play connect the dots with L.A. chefs), uses Valrhona chocolate for the dish. You probably should too when you make the dessert at home — since there are few things in this world more lovely than warm chocolate, which is why we asked her for the recipe.