(Editor’s Note: Church & State is re-opening with new ownership and a new chef - we’ll update this review with our thoughts soon.)
LA has always had a short attention span - remember when Pok Pok had two restaurants here? Things change quickly, and over in the Arts District, anything over a few years old is basically a withering dinosaur. If a restaurant’s going on a decade, it might as well be a ghost. But then there’s Church & State - the French spot that proves that being a ghost doesn’t make you completely dead.
When Church & State opened in 2008, it was the first real destination restaurant in the Arts District. And while that’s a fun fact they can brag to their friends about, it also means they’ve watched years of new restaurants/converted warehouses pop up around them and pull in all the hype. And yet, Church & State still keeps pace. The dining area is bright, spacious, and feels like it opened last week - if you didn’t find steak-frites and bouillabaisse (fish stew) staring back at you on the menu, you’d probably assume you were in one of those yoga studio/coffee shops/life centers you see around these parts, not an upscale French restaurant. But you’re glad about it because the atmosphere is fun and the food coming out of the kitchen is very good.
Despite the modern space, Church & State has a very traditional menu - and they aren’t making any apologies for it. You’re going to want the duck-heavy charcuterie board, a gruyere mac and cheese for the table, and that glorious bouillabaisse because it’s the best thing on the menu. Feel free to throw in a salad at some point, as flavors are rich here and you’ll need a body cleanser. Just save enough room for the profiteroles - they’re magnificent and we’re hiding one in our pants at this very moment.
This is a French restaurant, meaning if you want to do date night here, it’s going to go very well for you. But Church & State’s mellow approach to basically everything means you can bring friends, parents, or even enemies here and probably get away with it. And that, along with good food, is why this ghost isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
This comes in two sizes depending on how many people you have (or how confident you are in your eating abilities) and it’s a definite must-order. This is French charcuterie, so expect a lot of duck and expect to love every bit of it.
This baby is layered with baked gruyere cheese and is ideal for sharing with the table.
Oddly enough, this isn’t our favorite. It’s not terrible, but if we’re looking to hit our melted-cheese quotient for the meal, we’ll pick the mac and cheese any day.
You’ll need a salad at some point here, and you should choose this one. It’s excellent and also huge. A massive bed of farro, tons of greens on top, a pickled egg, and all the parmesan you could want. Bless.
Not the best bone marrow we’ve ever had, but it’s still very solid and a good option if you’re feeling carnivorous tonight.
This fish stew is our favorite thing on the menu. It’s large and will certainly fill you up, but not so heavy you’re being rolled out of the place. The mussels are cooked perfectly and that broth has some sort of secret ingredient that probably starts with a “b” and ends in “utter.”
Save room. Do it for yourself.