Church & State

Church & State had been on my “to try” list for some time, but after the change in chef’s I heard the food was not as mind blowingly good.  In addition to that, RCM and Triple T went there and said it was just OK.  So Church & State got bumped down on the list.

My friend, MC BowTie had been itching to try the bone marrow dish from Church & State.  So together with Mrs. BowTie and Hates Asian Food, we traveled to the far depths of Downtown LA.  When I say “far depths” I certainly mean it.  When I imagine downtown LA, I think of anything within a 1 mile radius of Little Tokyo and the Staples Center.  Church & State is just outside of this vicinity.  It’s where all the strip clubs are!  You know what I’m talking about, the Play Pen, Speariment Rhino, etc.  I was worried we would get ambushed by dirtbag pervies and crack whores as we searched our way to the most random location for a nice restaurant.

As you can see, the place is quite nice as are the surroundings.  I actually think normal people live here.

My attempt at an artistic shot.  Salt anyone?

The amuse bouche were simple bite sized cheese bread balls.  They reminded me of those Brazillian cheese balls, pao de queijo, but probably more flakey than chewey, and overall not as delicious.  We all agreed they were too salty.

I think we went a little hog wild with the appetizers because I felt like I had a complete meal even before my entree rolled around.  But we all had certain things in mind to try.  I mean you have to get the flatbreads.  You have to get the bone marrow.  You’re at a goddamn French bistro, so you better get escargo!  It just went on and on.  All being hungry foodies, nobody seemed to have the slightest inclination to reign us in.

We started off with the Tarte Flambee with caramelized onions, bacon, and gruyere.  Oh this was marvelous.  The sweet caramelized onions provided a perfect balance to the salty chunks of bacon, and the gruyere simply married all the flavors together.  I think it was better if you didn’t get a corner piece because those naturally had some dry untopped edges, and without any toppings the flatbread was just that, flat.  This dish was a winner.

Hates Asian Food wanted Escargot de Bourgogne (snails baked in garlic and parsley butter), which were uniquely served in piping hot ramekins topped with flakey puff pastry instead of the usual shell.

Behold the birth of the escargot.  For those of you who are “Ewww gross, snails!!!” please try it before knocking it.  It’s not a garden snail they picked off your front lawn!  They are sea snails, and they are delicious if they are fresh and prepared well.  These particular escargot were swimming in a pool of butter as usual, and had a strong white wine after taste which was different.  Overall the dish was too rich for me with butter coming at me from all directions.  I applaud the unique approach though.

Moules Marinieres (mussels, white wine, pommes frites, aioli).  If you know me, you know that I order moules (or mussels) whenever I can.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a moule I did not like, if prepared like this anyways.  I love taking the bread and sopping up all the broth/liquid.  I will even eat it like a soup with a spoon.  My only criticism, was the petite nature of the mussels.  Some were as small as the tip of my finger!

What are moules without the pommes frites?  Like peas and carrots, they just go hand in hand.  Everyone seemed very pleased with the perfect crispiness and flavor of the fries.  Not too salty, not too oily, just right.

Next up, the dish that MC BowTie had been waiting for, Moelle de Boeuff (roasted bone marrow).  Pardon the blurriness of the picture.  I actually had to get out of my seat and squat at the end of the table to get a shot of this.  I was a bit embarassed and tried to hurry up the shot, and of course you get blurriness as a result.

MC BowTie will now demonstrate how to eat bone marrow.

Step 1:  Take a scoop of the marrow and generously heap upon a slice of toasted baguette

Step 2:  Place a bit of the pickled radish accoutrements upon your marrow/baguette

Step 3:  Take a bite

Step 4:  Smile and Enjoy!

We all thought the bone marrow was lacking in flavor.  It really just tasted like globs of fat.  I’ve had bone marrow before at Animal and Cut and both were just melt in your mouth explosions of decadent flavor.  The marrow here was like, “Let me swish this in my mouth a bit longer to extract any bit of flavor, let alone salt!”  I did not think the pickled radishes did much for the dish either.  Also the baguette was just too thick and chewy for the amount of marrow.  I highly encourage anyone (healthy, young adults with no coronary artery disease risk factors or equivalents) to be adventurous and try bone marrow the next time you get a chance.  It can be soooo amazing, just not at Church & State.

After the 4 appetizers, I was seriously STUFFED.  I actually stepped outside to take care of the some “overworked” business and when I got back our entrees were served and MC BowTie was trying to man the camera.  BowTie should stick to rapping and looking snazzy and not a photographer.

MC BowTie got the Bavette a la Bordelaise (braised beef short rib, wild mushrooms, red wine sauce).  Who remembers the episode “Room Service” from Top Chef this season when Kenny and Kevin made short ribs that didn’t have enough jus or sauce??  I think this dish was inspired from that mishap.  Although the short rib was tender and falling apart like it should be, it just felt dry.  A sad short rib all in all.

Mrs. BowTie got the halibut or maybe it was seabass?  I can’t remember.  It was definitely overcooked.  Mrs. BowTie did not seem impressed.

Hates Asian Food probably had the least disappointing dish, lamb.  It was well prepared.

I got the pork chops, which were DRY DRY DRY.  It felt like it was sitting in a puddle of oil with beans and spinach.  Even the sausage could not save the pork from the dryness.  “Ick” was all I could say after I rehydrated my mouth with plenty gulps of water.

Church & State was only 50% delicious since all of us felt that only the appetizers were worthy of a repeat visit.  The odd location is also not so convenient, but the ambiance makes up for it.  The place is slightly upscale casual which makes it relaxing and affordable.  Maybe the next time I stop by the Rhino, I’ll swing by if I have some left over dollar bills to spare.

Church & State

1850 Industrial St

Los AngelesCA 90021

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