It seems like only yesterday that we were talking about this new upstart French-Californian restaurant opening up from Chef-Owner Walter Manzke and wife, Pastry-Chef-Owner Margarita Manzke. But 7 years later(!), Republique has firmly established itself as one of L.A.'s endearing restaurants where you can get a veritable treasure trove of glorious Pastries and Desserts from award-winning Pastry Chef Margarita Manzke during the day, or stop by for a wonderful Dinner from Chef Walter Manzke and team at night.
Given Chef-Owner Walter Manzke’s pedigree, from cooking at El Bulli in Spain to Patina, and Church & State, it seemed like a given that he’d finally establish a flagship restaurant to let his cooking shine, and Republique has blossomed into that, thankfully surviving the pandemic in 2020 (it had closed a few times during 2020, but managed to pivot and offer a limited takeout menu a few times last year).
Walking into Republique for the first time in a long time, you are greeted by the familiar, beautiful array of Pastries and Desserts that are arguably some of the best in the city:
Matcha Green Tea Latte (with Almond Milk):
Lovely Matcha Green Tea aromas on the first sip.
Pastry Chef Margarita and her team can probably be called “Chocolate Whisperers” by now, for their penchant of making glorious Pastry creations with Chocolate. This Chocolate Brioche is a new menu item, beautifully executed, light and pull apart airy Brioche with a deep, rich Chocolate swirl.
Pastel de Nata:
Oh yah! Chef Margarita making Portuguese Egg Tarts? Must order! These had a beautiful, rich, creamy custardy filling. Far more balanced and light compared to most Egg Tarts around town. You can taste the quality ingredients. The outer crust was delicate but also sturdy enough to hold the filling without crumbling apart easily. This was an outstanding Portuguese Egg Tart.
The only small nitpicky wish was to serve these warmed or hot, but even at room temperature, they are quite delicious. (@ipsedixit @ColinMorey @paranoidgarliclover @attran99 and all)
Peach Rose Madeline:
These aren’t really shaped like the traditional Madeleine I’m used to seeing, but there was still a fragrant, pleasing aroma from the Honey, Peach and very delicate Rose aroma coming through.
This marked the very first time having Dinner at Republique since well before the pandemic in 2019. All the tables were socially distanced and it was a sold out dining room.
(Complimentary) Amuse Bouche:
The Amuse Bouche was a nice way to start the evening with a Roasted Carrot & Basil Oil Soup that was creamy, earthy, comforting and elevated at the same time, fitting the slow return to normalcy.
Munak Ranch Heirloom Tomatoes (Gioiella Italian Burrata, Watermelon, Centonze Olive Oil, Basil):
A beautiful celebration of Summer on a plate: Sweet, fragrant Heirloom Tomatoes, aromatic Basil, creamy, but light fresh Burrata and that Centonze Olive Oil was standout, so fruity and with pleasing aromas.
Bucatini Alla Carbonara (Housemade Guanciale, Black Pepper, Parmesan):
While perhaps Republique started out as a French-leaning California / American cuisine restaurant, their Handmade Pastas have become the cornerstone of their Dinner menu. The Bucatini Alla Carbonara is stellar: Fantastic al dente Bucatini Pasta, a deep porcine Guanciale (made in-house no less!), and in a creamy, silky peppery Carbonara Sauce to bring it all together.
Mary’s Organic Chicken Tagine (Roasted Cauliflower, Merguez, Oven-Dried Arnett Farms Plums, Cous-Cous):
The Mary’s Organic Chicken was nicely cooked: Moist, tender Chicken pieces. The Moroccan spice could be a bit punchier in the Chicken meat itself, but still quite tasty. We really enjoyed the combination of Roasted Cauliflowers, Arnett Farms Plums as well to go with the Cous Cous.
If there’s one area of strength that gets overlooked at times, it’s the fact that you can order Whole Pies from Pastry Chef Margarita Manzke and team, so you can have more slices of joy at home, whenever you want.
Banana Caramel Cream Pie:
While I’m not the biggest Banana in Dessert fan, Chef Margarita’s Banana Cream Pie is another beautiful offering: Extremely fragrant Banana and Caramel flavors, and a Housemade Pastry Cream that is so light and airy, together with her flaky, buttery Pie crust. It was just what we needed at that time.
Mango Passion Fruit Cream Pie:
But if there’s one Pie to get at Republique, if you could only have one piece of Dessert, it would have to be her legendary Mango Passion Fruit Cream Pie. Available only for a limited time each year, when it arrives, you would be remiss not to order it.
Perfectly ripe, tender, juicy Mango slices adorn the top of a glorious tropical Passion Fruit Cream Pie base. The combination is just stunning: Sweet Mango, tropical tart and sweet Passion Fruit with the airy Housemade Cream and quality, buttery Pastry crust. We hadn’t had this in well over a year+! A must order.
I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years, I’ve never tried Republique’s Basque Cheesecake. Perhaps it’s the thought of eating something too heavy first thing in the morning, or just the mood, but it never was a craving whenever we showed up in the morning hours. But this time, we remembered…
Chef Margarita’s Basque Cheesecake is fantastic! Just look at the lovely creaminess, oozing out of the center, but still having some structure around the outside. It is deeply rich, but not overwhelming, decadent without overpowering, a bit of tart to balance the sweet.
Green Tea Matcha Latte:
Just what I needed for these Morning Pastries.
Strawberry Rose Madeline:
This Strawberry Rose Madeline was still quite tasty, not as moist as I’d like, but fragrant and the Rose added an elegance to the Pastry.
Chocolate Hazelnut Marble Cake:
This is exactly what I meant earlier by the “Chocolate Whisperer” moniker: Yet another Chocolate Pastry / Dessert where Chef Margarita delivers something incredible! It starts with the glorious Dark Chocolate Glaze on top, which gives way to a moist, fluffy Chocolate Marble Cake underneath. Bits of Roasted Hazelnut add a refined nuttiness as well.
BLT Benedict (Oven Dried Tomatoes, Nueske’s Bacon, Arugula, Avocado, Calabrian Chili Hollandaise):
Luxurious, but oh so good! It evokes the familiarity of a BLT Sandwich, with Oven Dried Tomatoes that concentrate the flavors dramatically, the Arugula is masterfully utilized here, adding much needed bitterness to counter all the richness. Then Avocado creaminess, fantastic local farm Eggs (deep rich, orange yolk), the Calabrian Chili Hollandaise Sauce binds everything together.
Kimchi Fried Rice (Beef Short Rib, Pickled Radish, Sesame Seeds, Soft Poached Eggs):
To be clear, there is zero Wok Hei (Breath of the Wok) here. There never has been, and it’s not something that can be compared to a masterfully prepared, legit, old-school Chinese Fried Rice. However, despite it being a bit too wet, having no Wok Hei, Republique’s Kimchi Fried Rice has been a mainstay on the menu for years for a reason:
It just hits all the right notes of satisfying a craving desire. Something deep. It’s got delicious Roasted Beef Short Rib meat, the tart and tangy Pickled Radish Kimchi is a great foil to the richness and oiliness, and add on the nuttiness from the Sesame Seeds and the perfectly Poached Eggs, that break apart and add that luscious creaminess to each bite, and you have a dish worth waking up to.
Strawberry and Mango Passion Fruit Cream Pie:
When I first saw and read the description, it seemed too good to be true: Chef Margarita’s legendary Mango Passion Fruit Cream Pie, with the addition of in-season Farmers Market Strawberries?! The actual final version (see above) feels a bit sparse on the actual Fruit on top of the Pie (normally her Mango version or Strawberry version is completely covered with the Fruit on top).
But it is so refreshing. Here, her Passion Fruit and Cream base is the star, with some accents of Mango and Strawberry. It works.
(Special) Peach & Blackberry Pie:
But the biggest surprise was partaking in Chef Margarita’s favorite version of Peach Pie: She likes making it with Peaches and accents it with Blackberries to balance out the sweet with some tart. We had asked her 2 years ago about making a Peach Pie and then the pandemic hit. Well it’s finally here and it’s glorious:
Perfectly ripe, beautiful Summer Peaches, so fragrant that only in-season Peaches can achieve. It’s sweet and lightly tart (inherently with great Yellow Peaches), and the Blackberries add more sweet and tart on a Berry level. Add on the fragrant Crumble and the high quality Butter Pie Crust and it is the best Peach Pie I’ve had in years!
It is SO GOOD! (@ipsedixit @attran99 @paranoidgarliclover @js76wisco @A5KOBE and all!)
Republique has thankfully survived 2020 (at one point it was selling groceries and bulk items to survive during the pandemic). While still operating at less than original capacity with a limited menu, Republique continues to shine. It is a place to grab a cheery Breakfast or Brunch, greeted by a massive glass case full of wonderful Pastries and Desserts, immediately bringing a smile to your face. Thankfully most of the offerings are outstanding due to Pastry-Chef Margarita Manzke and her team.
Then as the sun sets, settle in for an excellent Dinner from Chef-Owner Walter Manzke and team. Handmade Pastas, delicious Appetizers and Small Plates that celebrate California’s bountiful produce and main Protein courses are also worthwhile, like their Beef Short Ribs, Duck Confit or Chicken Tagine and beyond.
624 South La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (310) 362-6115