You know a restaurant must be good if Los Angelenos are willing to wait in line outside on a cold windy morning. This was the scene on Presidents’ Day at République, the restaurant run by husband and wife team, Walter and Margarita Manzke. Margarita had recently been nominated for a James Beard Award as one the the best pastry chefs in the U.S. (her fourth time as a nominee), which convinced us to brave the chill.
In the early morning, there already was a line meandering outside. We joined the extremely slow-moving queue, shivering from the cold and enviously eyeing the hot food diners inside were enjoying – Belgian waffles, mushroom toast, even fries.
Once we made it past the door, the line seemed to move much faster, barely giving me time to peruse the menu, while checking out the long counter of pastries. I scarcely had time to figure out what to order, when I found myself standing at the register.
For breakfast and lunch, you order at the counter, get your number and find a seat in one of the dining areas. Housed in the spot previously occupied by Campanile, République is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful restaurants in L.A.
Order a regular coffee, and it will come in a little pot, enough for a couple of refills.
After a bout of indecision in line (wanting hot food like the fried chicken and waffles which was a heart-stopping $20), I finally chose a ham & cheese croissant.
The outer layers shattered as I cut into it, revealing chunks of country ham, rather than sliced ham. What really made the croissant perfect was the sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top.
My husband’s quiche was thick but not heavy, with gruyère, kale, broccoli and caramelized onions lightly suspended in the egg custard. The quiche was accompanied by a baby green salad with a mustard-shallot dressing.
The Brioche French Toast, my daughter’s choice, was a huge slab, approximately 6″ x 6,” with a side of Vermont maple syrup. It was so big that I thought there was no chance that she’d be able to finish it.
I was wrong. The bread was so light and fluffy that it disappeared all too easily, save for a couple of bites. It was a little on the pricey side at $13, without any sort of fruit to lessen the blow. For that same amount, one could order the ham & cheese croissant, a slice of quiche and another pastry and eat like a king.
I took home a creme brûlée bomboloni, an Italian doughnut filled with pastry cream.
The outside had an outer sugar layer that had been brûléed, just like the top of a creme brûlée.
The dough was a bit heavy, but the pastry cream was nice and light. I had planned to take a bite and share the rest, but I failed.
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, stick with the pastries. Compared to the brunch dishes, the bakery goods are reasonably priced – $2 for a cookie, $6 for a piece of Boston cream pie. The pastries alone are worth the wait – although if you don’t feel like waiting, you can order at the takeout window outside. A few chose this method risking the evil eye from those in line innocently repeating, “We’re only looking,” as they passed.
Either way, some pastries or breads to take home with you are definitely a must. Best of luck to Margarita Manzke with winning the James Beard Award – in my humble opinion, you are already a winner.
Location – 624 . La Brea Ave., Los Angeles 90036
Website – http://republiquela.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes