You’d be happy just ordering bread and butter at République; that’s Normandy butter, mind you, and house-baked bread from pastry chef extraordinaire Margarita Manzke. But you might not to be able to resist adding an order of velvety duck mousse to devour alongside it. Or woodfired drippings. And then when you hear the incredulous cries of diners tucking into the perfectly crisp, golden fries, lauded by many to be the best in the city… Well, that’s when the menu floodgates open.
And what a menu it is. Replete with the French influences that chef Walter Manzke is known for (from his brasserie cuisine at Church and State or the haute cuisine of his time spent at Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo), there is truly the potential to be spoilt for choice. Here you’ll find: soft scrambled eggs lovingly lavished with shavings of black truffles; Spot Prawns from Santa Barbara that are kept alive until the moment of ordering and served with tomato, reed avocado, jalapeňo, and cilantro; Sonoma duck breast served pink and perfect with cherries from a local farm; crisp, moreish okra and green bean tempura with basil aïoli; garlic-buttery escargots served individually en croûte; and rich, rib-sticking pork ragoût pappardelle with pecorino. And that’s just a few of the dishes that have diners raving and returning time after time.
It helps, of course, that the building itself is already enshrined in the memories of Angelenos. First built by Charlie Chaplin, it then became the decades-long home of the restaurant Campanile; there’s pedigree in the Gothic stonework here. And diners can enjoy it all from the comfort of the communal tables in the main dining area, which used to be the courtyard. The high vaulted ceilings and dramatic stonework are now visual fodder for those who can manage to tear their eyes away from their meals.
You might get lucky with a walk-in at République, and the staff will be welcoming if you do. République has the kind of Parisian air that makes you feel like you could just pull up a chair, order a glass of wine, and tuck into some bread, butter, and duck mousse. Just because. But to be safe, make a reservation. No one should miss out on a meal like this.