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I am not one of those who try a place immediately after it opens or when it is red hot. Staying power and consistency after the initial passion count in both romance and restaurants. That is why I love places like Il Grano (which just celebrated 15 years of business) and why I waited a year to try Bottega Louie.
Church and State has been on my “go to” list for some time, and I finally made the trek to the literally Industrial street of downtown Los Angeles. The restaurant is in the former Nabisco factory building, and the area reminds me of New York City’s meat packing district, but the food is decidedly and wonderfully French bistro.

A hallmark of a great French restaurant is the bread they serve. Any place that serves mediocre bread (or worse, no bread) automatically becomes a suspect in my book of “Faux French restaurant”. Not only is the bread here marvelous, but the butter is so good that when one of my dining partners spilled some on the table, she scooped it up to get every bite of it!

The Salade de Mesculn had heirloom radishes and fennel in it and the dressing was a superb vinaigrette. The waitress said they grow their own greens, so this plate is quite literally freshly picked for the meal! If you order their daily $19 lunch Prix Fixe, this can be one of the three courses, otherwise it is $8.
The Ling Cod on a bed of lentils with roasted tomatoes, pearl onions, and a wonderful mustard sauce is now one of my favorite fish dishes in any restaurant in Los Angeles! For $24, this main course is both light and filling enough to convert non fish eaters.
Steak Tartare is listed as an appetizer, but for $14, this is a very nice lunch with a side of greens and fries. The hand cut New York strip loin tartare was one of the best I’ve tasted in over a year, and the portion is big enough to share if you are not eating this as your main meal.
The fries were delicate and crisp, served with a side of fresh mayonnaise.
I saw two nearby tables with the Bouillabaisse, a provençal fish stew made with blue prawns, manilla clams, p.e.i. mussels, fennel, tomato, potato, leek and could not resist. They offer two sizes and I went for the larger one, priced at $24. It was perfumed with saffron, and the soup was “comme il faut” with the rich fish stock, fennel, and leeks blending their essences into a heavenly broth. The rouille topped toast and the perfectly cooked seafood reminded me of my favorite Bouillabaisse place in Nice.
The larger plate is a hearty meal, but somehow I managed to finish every delectable bite of this marvelous soup. The prawns were some of the best blue prawns I’ve ever tasted (and that includes ones I’ve made myself)! Their wine list is exclusively French and very reasonably priced with glasses from $8-$20, so I ordered a nice Rosé from Provence for $12 to go with this seaside Provençal dish.
I could not eat dessert, but one of my dining partners could not resist the pot de creme of chocolate and coffee custard, crème chantilly, sablés cannelle cookies for $9. I tried the cookies, which were wonderful, and she loved the creamy pot de creme.
Finding excellent French fare in the heart of an industrial area is like finding a pot of gold buried in your backyard!

Church & State on Urbanspoon

My name is Elaine and I’m an addict. Ever since Madame Chocolat‘s retail location closed I’ve suffered chocolate withdraws. As anyone who has an addiction knows, when you need your fix, you can’t wait for delivery, and thankfully my source is back in town at DL & Co. in Beverly Hills.
Since DL & Co. opened today, the Halloween decorations befitted the theme. With wandering animated statues, hors d’oeuvres and wine, the opening party was packed with friends, clients, and well wishers.
This peacock is the sentry at the entrance.
Graphics on the wall give the airy open space an edgy urban vibe.
If you love skulls, this shop has everything you could wish for, from candles to plates in your favorite motif.
Not everything in the shop has a skull theme or dark colors; there are also beautiful bright items, like these candles.
For me, the draw was Madame Chocolat’s creations, and she had her signature Louboutin glitter pumps on display (and for sale), along with matching handbags (of course).
I bought one of these chocolate Eiffel towers as a gift. At first the people I bought it for didn’t want to eat it because it was so beautiful, but they did eventually devour it!
If you ever wanted to literally “bite someone’s head off”, you might want to get some chocolate skulls and eat these instead (I bet they taste better). There is the shrunken variety in a trio of color and flavors.
Or the big skull with glittery eyes; I must say these are probably the only skulls I’ve ever seen which did not frighten me 🙂
Other gifts in the shop include exotic diffusers.
Candles and metalwork make for both a centerpiece and an art piece for your home decor.
Besides Madame’s chocolates, my favorite gifts in the store were the Swarovski “apples”.
This black crystal apple epitomized DL& Co…..a beautiful place which sparkles with a twist on classics to entice you to awaken your senses to unusual pleasures.

Il Grano is celebrating their 15th anniversary this week and anyone who loves great Italian food should make a reservation! This month is also the last month of their “Tomato Wednesdays” which celebrate the home grown tomatoes of the chef, so today’s post is a visual feast to entice you to go taste for yourself!

The pepper, tomato, and white anchovy with shallots is one of my favorite starters in any restaurant. If the only anchovies you know are the ones usually found on pizzas, you owe it to yourself to try this dish before declaring that you don’t like anchovies!

The pork with spicy corn and chili salsa was offered last week and although it is not technically Italian, it combines the European sensibility of using local market ingredients with quality proteins. If you are brave and love spice, you may want to eat the pepper garnish…..

This burrata and tomato sandwich with pancetta was the cover photo for Bon Appetit. It’s offered everyday for lunch and as beautiful as it is to look at, it is even more beautiful once you taste it. Normally, I would never recommend a sandwich at a restaurant like Il Grano, but this is one of their signature offerings and if you are even slightly tempted, give in to your temptation!

All their pastas are made in house and their canoli stuffed with branzino is no exception. The fresh tomato sauce added a nice acidity to the dish. I loved the fish stuffing because it was done with a light hand; the canoli were thin and light enough so they did not overwhelm the branzino.

A chef who insists on using only the best ingredients will find the rare and wonderful to bring to his guests. This lightly seared piece of sirloin was so tender and flavorful because it came from a cow which was a the ribbon winner. If you love beef, come get this dish this week before it is gone.

The grilled calamari salad with home grown yellow tomatoes was such a delight, I felt as if I had been transported to an Italian village by the sea. Every bite evoked sea, sun, and blue skies.

The burrata stuffed canoli with a fresh tomato sauce is the perfect comfort dish for Italians. It is the Italian version of Mac n Cheese. But with home grown tomatoes and ethereal pasta, this is the Ferrari of comfort food.

I loved the clams with spaghetti. There was just enough red pepper to perk up the pasta and the freshly picked tomatoes contributed to the briny flavors of the sea. A perfect plate to end a perfect meal.

The pastry chef makes all the delectable cookies in house; perfect buttery baci to end your meal 🙂

Il Grano on Urbanspoon

For those of us who love to shop, finding a decent cafe inside a department store is akin to finding shoes you love on sale. Bloomingdale’s has 59th & Lex as their in store food stop. The name refers back to their original location in New York City, but the food here in the Century City location is definitely Californian (all cafe menus vary slightly according to region).

Since most of the clientele for both the restaurant and the cafe are women, the choices skew towards lighter fare like salads and wraps. The chicken wrap, with grilled chicken, chopped mixed greens, feta cheese, tomatoes, kalamata olives and red onions, dressed with lemon shallot vinaigrette, wrapped in a warm flour tortilla for $10 is a decent repast for those who want something better than food court food.  

Of course most women order salads and they have a daily special along with their eight regular menu choices. All the salads are between $12-$15 and are quite large portions. This was my choice and I was happy to find it was made with fresh ingredients, but I found it boring and bland.

Since we came on a Friday, the special of the day was fish and chips for $13.75 and it seemed as if every other person ordered this, so I had to try it. The fish was great, light and freshly made, with a a beer or tempura batter, rather than fish stick bread crumbs. A squeeze of lemon really highlighted the fish and I finished it all, however, I did not eat more than one bite of my french fries because they were absolutely bland and definitely made from frozen potatoes. The coleslaw was a good enough version to warrant several bites, but the heavy mayonnaise made my stomach upset afterwards 😦

Some people come here just to drink Champagne (half bottles of Veuve Clicquot for $42), but since my friends don’t drink, and I wasn’t going to splurge on restaurant champagne prices in a cafe, we ordered dessert, the lemon meringue cake. It is much too big for one person (unless it was the only thing you eat for lunch), but the moist cake and light filling was a nice way to leave with a sweet taste.

Would I make this a regular stop for lunch? No, but if I was tired and hungry after shopping until I was ready to drop at Bloomingdale’s, I might stop in for a bowl of soup or a sandwich. There are better places to eat in Century City, but sometimes convenience is priceless, especially if you are wearing high heels:)

59th & Lex Cafe (Bloomingdale's Century City) on Urbanspoon

Good cooks insist on good ingredients for their creations, and Melissa, the creator of the Pig & Pastry Pie Co., uses only the best for her delicious chicken pot pies and beef pot roast pies. It helps that her day job is manager of my favorite butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy. Pig & Pastry Pie Co. is her “side gig” and she personally makes the pies on her time off from the shop.

If you have never had a home made pot pie or shepherd’s pie, Melissa’s will set the paradigm so high that you might be unwilling to ever try to make your own. My favorite is the chicken pot pie which is loaded with wonderful bite sized pieces of chicken, carrots, and peas. This is comfort food at its most noble, with a pastry crust that is so flaky and crisp, I devoured it (and I almost never eat any crust).

The filling is a sumptuous blend of all the creamy goodness you want in a comfort dish. Seasoned perfectly with hints of thyme, this pie manages to be both upscale and old school rustic at the same time. I should probably fill my freezer with these vacuum sealed frozen pies for the apocalypse (assuming we will have electricity or gas during the end of the world).

The beef pot roast pie has a mashed potato and TRUFFLE topping, so it is more of a shepherd’s style pie than a pot pie with a flaky crust. Like all the pies, it is vacuum sealed and frozen so you can easily store and bake it at your convenience.

 When it is baked it is a meat and potato lovers paradise of a meal.

The interior is a hearty blend of pot roast, carrots and celery. My only critique of this pie is that the mashed potato topping was a bit salty. Having truffles in it made me eat more of it, but for those who are sensitive to salt, the chicken pot pie would be a better choice.

Unfortunately these pies are only available at Lindy & Grundy right now, but fortunately that means you will have to go to the best butcher shop in Los Angeles:)




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