Church & State

A Michelin-starred chef defies the Constitution, with delicious results

By Grace Jidoun

This dark and bustling bistro, going strong for over eight years now, boasts executive chef Tony Esnault at the helm. Hailing from the Loire Valley, Esnault has had a more-than-impressive run, honing his craft at world-class restaurants in Lyon, Monte Carlo, New York, and Boston, and most recently heading up Patina in LA. At Church & State, the celebrated chef brings his Michelin-starred secrets to classic French comfort food.

The menu changes frequently, but you can always count on a lineup of soul-satisfying bistro plates to complement the all-French wine list. A springtime favorite on the menu is blanquette de volaille—a poultry stew of Mary’s chicken breast with glazed carrots, peas, mushrooms, haricots verts in a velouté. Or enjoy a glass of white wine with the equally delicious moules marinières (pictured above), its PEI mussels in a classic white-wine aromatic broth, served with fries, and aïoli. And don’t discount the simple mac-and-cheese—it’s a taste of sheer decadence.

Esnault adheres to a strict policy of sourcing organic produce, making his own pâtés and terrines, and using only pasture-raised, free range, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. Translation: If you’re not typically adventurous with protein, this is the place to throw inhibitions to the wind. Try the rustic os á moelle, with two Flinstonian bones presented on a dish with a tiny spoon to dig out the marrow. Snails imported from Burgundy are encrusted in a buttery puff pastry. And the unsung steak tartare is a standout, accompanied by fries and mesclun salad.

Maybe it’s thanks to the moody dining room, or perhaps it's the mysterious location in Downtown’s Arts District, but after so many years Church & State has still managed to keep its bohemian spirit intact.


Dinner: Mon–Thu 6 PM–10 PM; Fri 6 PM–11 PM; Sat 5:30 PM¬–11 PM; Sun 5:30 PM–9 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30 AM–2:30 PM

price range

$25 (légumes de saison) to $35 (steak frites)