Church & State was one of the first hit restaurants—along with Bestia—in the LA Arts District, igniting it to become LA’s hottest dining locale. Recently closed after a decade of operation under owners Yassmin Sarmadi and Tony Esnault, the bistro is now taken over by Bill Chait, the man behind Tesse.
Chait intends to retain the restaurant’s name but give it a much-needed update that includes a complete kitchen overhaul. The look of the space will be refreshed, with a cleaner look and lighter color palette more appropriate for a modern bistro that includes changing up the hanging lights and replacing the heavy red color scheme with green paint accents and a large chalkboard to display the evening’s specials.
To complete the look, Chait has chosen BlueCut to outfit the chefs, cooks, and servers in their French linen aprons. The fabric was milled in France, but the aprons were manufactured in Los Angeles at BlueCut’s facilities. Linen was chosen for its strength (3x stronger than cotton) and its breathability, which will allow the staff to remain cool while working. BlueCut customized this versatile fabric for Church & State by softening it and dyeing it to a rich, black hue that matches Chait’s vision for retaining the classic look and adding a cleaner, more modern approach to the bistro format. The restaurant’s bartenders will wear BlueCut’s apron design, a more rugged garment made from 10 oz. black cotton twill that features a black leather neck strap.
BlueCut had a chance to sit down with Bill Chait and Taylor Parsons to ask about their new venture at Church & State.
BlueCut: Taylor, tell us your roll at Church & State and the wonderful wine selection we can expect there.
Taylor Parsons: My role in the wine program is supportive -- the real architect is the very talented Adam Ohler, who is also our GM. We tasted hundreds of wines together in order to build the list, and it developed quite organically. Obviously, we want the wine list to have a real resonance with the food, so that clearly pointed to a French core with European and American accents. It also pointed to small producers, families who make wines with intention and transparency and who approach their winemaking with the quality-driven mentality that also underscores Chef's cooking.
And beyond that, the rest of the list architecture was driven largely by the space: a vibrant bistro serving a vibrant surrounding neighborhood. We felt strongly that such a place demanded a small, tight and ever-evolving list (largely) composed of affordable, everyday wines. Beaujolais, Loire Valley Cab Franc, Muscadet, Chardonnay from the Burgundian suburbs...in short, bistro wines!
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we wanted the list to evince a real sense of seasonality, which echoes another huge component Chef's approach to food. After all, who wants to eat cassoulet and drink Cahors in the summertime?! This time of year, you'll find an emphasis on lighter, fresher stuff (particularly rosé and white wine). Come fall and winter, the list will take on a more brooding, intense tone -- just like the menu.
Oh, and echoing a bit of the République program, we have a pretty robust (and growing) selection of unlisted special wines -- ones and twos of things we are particularly enamored of. All a guest needs to do is ask!
BlueCut:How did you, Taylor and David decide to venture into this project together?
Bill Chait: Taylor and I are working on a number of projects together. When the church and state opportunity arose I asked Taylor and he was very interested and suggested Chef Feau as a possible chef partner. We both had great respect for the original restaurant under Walter and felt it was important to retain the name.
The arts district is potentially the best resturant area in the city: Bestia, Bavel, Enrique Olivera’s upcoming restaurant, Church & State, Nightshade, Father’s Office, Bon Temps, Factory Kitchen, Officine Brera, upcoming Girl & The Goat, and more.
BlueCut: Why Church & State? Why not a new restaurant or a new restaurant in another part of town?
Bill Chait:I love all the arts district restaurants. When I opened Bestia with Ori in 2012/3 we came to look at the little bear space but looked across the street at church and state and felt we could never visually compete with the beauty of church. That led us to look at the current Bestia space but church and state was considered to be main on main.