Fine Dining

République @ L.A.

What do Charlie Chaplin and République have in common? They both used to be housed in the same Spanish-style building.

République is owned by the husband and wife team, Chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke. Centred in the heart of Los Angeles, the historic building was originally erected in 1929 by Charlie Chaplin, and later transformed into the iconic La Brea Bakery and Campanile Restaurant in 1989, which quickly established itself as a standard-setter for L.A.’s farm-to-table food scene and remained among the city’s favourite dining spots for more than two decades, until it closed in 2012.

With République, the Manzkes have breathed new life into the storied location, reinterpreting the space while respectfully nodding to the building’s history. Opened in 2013, the space was reinvented to feature a casual bakery, café, and bar in the front with a more formal dining area located in the rear, serving a French-inspired menu created daily by their chefs.

République’s front area doubles as a café-bakery

By day République’s front area doubles as a café-bakery, showcasing Margarita’s artisanal breads and pastries alongside breakfast, brunch, and lunch menus. At night the space becomes a vibrant wine bar, complete with charcuterie, an oyster bar, and an eclectic cocktail program helmed by Julian Cox protégé Erik Lund.

Amuse Bouche

tomato, paprika, parsley

Tomato paprika soup with parsley oil

Compliments from the chefs, this warm tomato soup was wonderful starter to the meal. It had a bit heat from the paprika and turmeric. But what gave it a different dimension was the parsley oil drizzled on the soup.

Taylor Kumamoto Oysters

yuzu mignonette

Taylor Kumamoto Oysters

Kumamotos are worshipped for their amazing sweetness and clean, fruity aromas. These Japanese natives grow agonisingly slowly, but some things in life are worth the wait.

Mignonette not need

Their salted honeydew meat fills up deep cupped shells, brimming with sweet liquor. Bright, sweet flavours with a cucumber finish. I wished I had ordered more than just two of them.

Kanpachi Crudo

lemon, cucumber, sungold tomato, aguachile

Kanpachi Crudo

Their Kanpachi Crudo reminded me of the white tuna ceviche I had in Mindanao many years ago. They both had the onions, cucumbers and really fresh fish. The only extra components here were the jalapeño and sungold tomatoes.

Baguette

Rodolphe Le Meunier Butter from Normandy, France

Baguette with Rodolphe Le Meunier Butter from Normandy, France

The bread was extra, and we didn’t regret ordering it. The crusty classic came from their own bakery that Margarita oversees, and the baguette was as good as any from Paris.

Rodolphe Le Meunier Butter from Normandy, France

One of France’s most famous affieneurs – cheese finishers – Rodolphe Le Meunier come from three geneations of cheese producers from La Croix-en-Touraine. His expertise has earned him both the coveted title of Best Cheesemonger in France and the title of world’s best cheesemaker. He artfully crafts delicious cheeses and a fabulous French butter, Beurre de Barratte, in his creamery in the Loire.

I could eat this all day

Le Meunier uses a wooden butter churn and honours the ancient European methods of butter making. The milk is pasteurised no more than 48 hours from harvest to pot and ferments for another 24 hours before churning. Butter makers molden each bar by hand, and the result is butter that tastes like no other. It’s vibrant and fresh with nutty and tangy flavors. It’s truly a butter like you’ve never tasted.

Charcoal-Grilled Santa Barbara Prawns

normandy butter, meyer lemon

Charcoal-Grilled Santa Barbara Prawns

A very simple cooking technique, the Santa Barbara spot prawns were split in halves and then grilled in the oven with a decent amount of the same Le Meunier butter with a squeeze of fresh Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons taste similar to regular lemons but with a sweeter, more floral taste.

Fresh ebiko from the prawns

Spot prawns with their roe are a fabulously rich and delicious treat. Spot prawn heads are delicious, the bodies have a delicate texture and amazingly sweet taste. In short, they were extremely good. I was so happy I ordered a large portion.

Campanelle

maine lobster, calabrian chilli, meyer lemon, basil

Campanelle

Campanelle is a type of pasta which is shaped like a cone with a ruffled edge, or a bell-like flower. Their shape makes them perfect to be cooked with a beautiful New Orleans-style lobster bisque-like sauce. This pasta dish was a really good eat, but there was really too little Maine lobster per portion.

Black Hawk Wagyu Beef Zabuton

broccoli di ciccio, sweet potatoes, sauce béarnaise

Black Hawk Wagyu Beef Zabuton

This is the first time I see sliced wagyu beef been described a zabuton – a Japanese sitting cushion. Came with grilled normal potato and sweet potato, as well as stalks of broccolini.

Zabuton shaped wagyu beef

Kentucky-bred wagyu beef from Black Hawk Farms was not as marbled as other breeders, but I liked my beef meatier. I preferred the au jus versus the béarnaise.

Mango Panna Cotta

lime, mint, peach, coconut granité, mango sorbet

Mango Panna Cotta

They just introduced this new dessert on the day we visited, and we definitely had to try one for a sweet ending to a wonderful meal.

Small drinkers, rejoice! Throughout the meal, we ordered several wines to go with the different dishes, and we were really happy that they allowed 1/2 glasses to be ordered. Of the four, nothing really stood out. But I had good company and the evening was extremely enjoyable.

Afterthoughts

République has been reviewed and recommended by many, including the Michelin guide; they talked about the used of local ingredients and innovative cooking, but none has done justice to the solid French bistro food.

The food was really delicious and right portion, with a service attentiveness to match. The portions, down to the wine, allow you to try more things. Getting a table is difficult as it is very close to getting a Michelin nod since they renovated the place and changed their menu earlier this year. Highly recommended.

République Restaurant
624 S La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036
Tel : +1 310-362-6115

Visited Sep 2022

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