I have yet to encounter a soul in the hyper-opinionated Los Angeles food community who doesn’t adore Chef Walter Manzke‘s cooking. From his early days at Patina and Bastide, to his more recent tenures at Church & State and Petty Cash, wherever Chef goes, the accolades usually aren’t too far behind.
Late last year, Chef Manzke and his wife, Pastry Chef Margarita Manzke, joined forces with restaurateur Bill Chait to open Republique in the former Campanile space. I usually give restaurants a few months to settle in before coming in for a taste, but my impatience got the best of me in this situation—I needed Chef’s signature escargots en croute, and I needed them now.
The Astronomer and I were initially seated at the communal table toward the front of the restaurant during our visit, but scored a table for two after asking the hostess nicely.
Pro Tip: My friend Darin dined on the same evening and requested seats along the Chef’s counter, which turned out to be warm but festive. Continue reading ‘Republique – Los Angeles’
With our bellies full of chicken livers and smoked meat, The Astronomer, my sis-in-law Sonia, and I strolled over to Dominique Ansel Bakery for one final sugar rush.
Chef Dominique Ansel opened his eponymous bakery at the end of last year after toiling at Daniel for six years and at Fauchon in Paris before that. Even though the shop has been open for only a short while, there’s already buzz that it’s the best bakery in town. Hype in these here parts can be intense.
I had my sights set on the “Perfect Little Egg Sandwich” ($5) this afternoon, but unfortunately it is only available before noon on weekdays. I quickly switched gears and perused the pristine pastries on hand.
In addition to croissants, ice creams, sorbets, and sandwiches, the bakery offers an array of jaw-droppingly beautiful tarts and cakes. Each one was assembled with precision and was far too fetching to eat, really.
Continue reading ‘Dominique Ansel Bakery – New York City’
Before boarding a high-speed train to London followed by a flight back to Los Angeles, we made time for one last lunch in Paris. For our final feast in the city, I desired nothing more than simple, perfectly made crêpes. While most visitors head to Breizh Café or Josselin for this Breton specialty, I took David Lebovitz‘s advice and sought out West Country Girl in the 11th arrondissement.
Here, at this minimally appointed restaurant on the Passage Saint-Ambroise, Breton-native Sophie Le Floc’h makes an assortment of sweet and savory crêpes.
There’s also plenty of cidre to go around, another Breton specialty.
Continue reading ‘West Country Girl – Paris’
For our final dinner in Paris, we dined at Chef Stéphane Jégo’s bastion of Basque cuisine Chez l’Ami Jean.
Before I get to what we ate and how splendid it all was, a little background on the significance of the restaurant and the chef (pictured above). Take it away, Food Snob Blog:
Chez l’Ami Jean, first opened by a Basque nationalist in 1931, is Paris’ most celebrated exponent of that region’s cuisine. It is also one of the city’s best representatives of the ‘Bistro Moderne’ movement. This is the name bestowed by Gault Millau on the 1990s trend that saw traditional bistros reinvented by chefs who had been formally trained in France’s more formal kitchens. In short summary, after the 1980s and what was the apogee of haute cuisine, kitchens were full of enthusiastic young chefs dreaming of opening their own restaurants. The economic recession of the early 1990s, however, meant that for many this remained but a dream, whilst for others it meant a compromise and instead of their own fine-dining restaurants, they settled on (cheaper) bistros. They brought with them new, more advanced techniques and ideas and succeeded in reversing the decline of these old establishments. The founding fathers of this movement included Christian Constant, Eric Frechon and Yves Camdeborde. In Paris, these men are household names and it was with the last, at La Régalade, where Chez l’Ami Jean’s chef, Stephane Jégo, spent twelve years as his second.
Stéphane and his wife Sandrine took over the Chez l’Ami Jean in 2002 following his departure from La Régalade. Rumor has it that the rugby-playing chef once forced a Michelin inspector dining at the restaurant out onto the street. “They will never be welcome at the restaurant; they have too many tick boxes,” he says.
The Astronomer, Mom, and I arrived early for our reservation and were seated straightaway without too much fuss. A beautiful loaf of bread accompanied by a glass of “country cheese spread” was brought to the table soon after we were seated. The spread was quite mild, so several spoonfuls were required to pack the punch that I desired.
Continue reading ‘Chez l’Ami Jean – Paris’