99 Essential Restaurants 2014

République

photo by Anne Fishbein

It’s been a long time since L.A. has tasted the full potential of chef Walter Manzke, but République makes the wait worthwhile. Along with his wife, Margarita Manzke, and restaurateur Bill Chait, Manzke has taken the soaring, dramatic space that for more than 20 years was Campanile and given it bustling new life. In many ways, the trio is trying to create a restaurant for all occasions: a bakery and cafe during the day, a casual chic bar where you can slurp oysters and be on your way at night, or a spendy restaurant where you might have the meal of your life. This last piece of the puzzle will become even more fully realized when Manzke starts serving tasting menus, which he promises to do in the coming months. In the meantime, his mainly French (but also slightly Italian) menu delivers plenty to be excited about: a charcuterie board that delves deeply into the philosophy of country pâtés; butter-and-garlic-drenched escargot en croute; classic dishes like Dover sole that require the skills of a chef as dedicated to craft as he is to fashion. Add Margarita Manzke’s stunning rustic desserts, and a wine list that packs an encyclopedia of knowledge and fun onto one page, and you have a restaurant that easily could delight us for 20 years to come.

-- Besha Rodell