624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 12/6/13
Chef Walter Manzke (Bastide, Church & State, countless collaborative/pop-up events) has become one of my favorite chefs in Los Angeles over the years, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this opening for a long time. Taking over the location of famed Campanile & La Brea Bakery, Republique’s menu is steeped in French influences with a lot of dishes reminiscent of the classical Bistro fare that Manzke was cooking at Church & State.
The hottest seats in the restaurant, literally, are the four at the chefs counter. These provide a front-row glimpse into the action in the kitchen, directly opposite of the large wood-burning oven. Even on this chilling Los Angeles weekend, these seats were kept very warm all evening.
The menu is currently a la carte only, though Manzke’s been said to have plans to create a tasting menu.
Eggs on Toast santa barbara uni, soft scrambled egg
The uni and soft scrambled eggs were as delicious as expected; however, the toasted baguette had some sharp edges that distracted from the bites. Flavors were on point though, particularly with a touch of heat from the piment d’Espelette.
Parmesan Beignets sweet potato, vadouvan, erik’s maple syrup
These beignets were done well – light, airy and with a good punch of Parmesan flavor. The curry-resembling vadouvan was strong in the sweet potato purée, rounding out each bite.
Spaghetti Rustichella manila & razor clams, garlic, chili flake
The spaghetti maintained a nice chew amidst strong garlic flavors. The seafood was cooked perfectly, leaving the clams sweet and tender. Chili flakes accented each mouthful while parsley added a touch of freshness.
Risotto Nero atlantic calamari, mediterranean octopus
Looking like this was going to be rich and hearty, the squid ink risotto showed off some bright flavors from a generous amount of citrus zest. Like the spaghetti, the seafood was again cooked perfectly with very tender pieces of squid and octopus.
Prime Strip Loin Steak Frites sauce bearnaise
The beef looked delicious although was fairly unspectacular. Observing the kitchen, this might’ve been pre- or par-cooked, leaving it drier than expected. The fries were excellent, though.
Wild New Zealand Tai potato gnocchi, black trumpet mushrooms
A crisp skin and moist flakes of meat highlighted this piece of snapper, but also hid some thick bones. I thought the gnocchi was a delicious and important component; unfortunately, the kitchen forgot to include it until we finished the original dish (and inquired).
Being fairly full and, quite frankly, uncomfortably hot by the fire, we passed on dessert.
The meal at Republique had its highlights but also had its missteps, some of which could be attributed to the fact that the restaurant has just opened. One of the items we ordered never showed up and some sloppiness in the kitchen distracted from the overall food. The small plates were probably my favorites on this evening; although the pasta and risotto were both good they didn’t stand out compared to other renditions of the dishes around the city. Given I’ve been such a big fan of Manzke’s food in the past, I definitely would like to return at some point…but I’ll have to give the restaurant some time. If Manzke does get his tasting menu up and running, that’d be something I’d look forward to.