This year we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary! When the doors first swung open in 2008, we were one of the very first restaurants to open in the now bustling Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. We serve traditional French bistro fare using only organic, seasonal produce of the highest quality. All of our products come from local farms and have been compassionately raised without antibiotics or hormones.

We are located in the Arts District on the ground floor of the original NABISCO bakery and offices, built in 1925. Our restaurant was once the loading dock of the National Biscuit Company.

We have a full bar serving seasonal, hand-crafted cocktails, and a French-focused wine list containing many organic and biodynamic selections. Each night we feature a different wine and cocktail du jour, and offer Happy Hour Tuesday-Friday from 5:30pm to 7pm. On Sundays, we offer a unique 3 course prix fixe menu that changes weekly.

Bon appetit!

For the longest time, Chef Tony Esnault couldn’t eat cherries from the market. Growing up in the Loire Valley in France, he had plucked the tangy fruit straight off the trees that lined the wheat fields on his grandparents’ farm. After tasting the incomparable vibrancy of just-picked fruit, nothing else could come close. While the Frenchman has since reconnected with cherries, the lessons he learned on that farm, from the perfection of a freshly laid egg to the exquisiteness of a courgette at the height of season, continue to influence and inspire his cooking today.

When he was 8 years old, Esnault knew he wanted to become a chef. After four years of classical training at the François Rabelais culinary school in Lyon, he honed his craft at the one-Michelin-star Le Montparnasse 25, the two-Michelin-star Carré des Feuillants and the three-Michelin-star Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace. But when he began working with Alain Ducasse in 1996 at the legendary Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo, the then 25 year old found a mentor. “First and foremost, he taught me how to maintain flavors without transforming the ingredients too much,” Esnault says. “There’s a radiance to food in its natural state that you don’t want to undermine.”

Elegance of flavor and artistic execution would become Esnault’s trademark in the United States. At the Ritz Carlton Boston, his reinvention of the hotel restaurant with innovative seasonal menus and wine and truffle dinners earned him the prestigious recognition of Best Hotel Chef of America in 2004 by Food & Wine magazine. The same year, the restaurant was awarded four AAA Diamonds and in 2005 four Mobil Stars followed.

Esnault reunited with his mentor in 2005, when he became executive chef at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York City. While there, he garnered three Michelin stars and was named a “Rising Star” by StarChefs. In 2007, Esnault went on to open Adour with Ducasse at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, receiving an impressive three stars from The New York Times and two from The Michelin Guide.

In 2009, Esnault relocated to Los Angeles to take the helm at Patina in the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. While he had always relied on local and seasonal ingredients to create his dishes, the abundance of produce in Southern California provided him with a new wave of inspiration and reverence for fruits and vegetables. In her four-star review of Patina, Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila called the chef’s signature glazed vegetable mosaic “a breathtaking dish. What I love about [Esnault’s] food is its balance and grace. This is quietly confident cooking, delicious by any measure.”

Today Esnault continues to master that quietly confident cooking at Church & State, where he took over as executive chef this past January. Later this year, he plans to open his first restaurant, Spring, focusing on lighter French Mediterranean dishes and using only the freshest local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients, just as his grandparents did decades before. “Chefs can set an example,” Esnault says. “We need to pay greater attention to conscious ingredient sourcing and how varieties of species are preserved. Great quality food should encompass the entire chain, from purveyor to palate.” 

In 2008, Yassmin Sarmadi did something many people would call crazy. In the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the then 39-year-old restaurateur opened Church & State, a traditional French bistro, on a rundown street in downtown Los Angeles. Housed in the former loading dock of the 1925 National Biscuit Co. building, the revitalized Church & State would instantly become one of the city’s most sought-after dining destinations, inspiring a rare three stars from the Los Angeles Times and establishing Sarmadi as the pioneer of a burgeoning downtown culinary scene.

Sarmadi’s love of restaurants began when she was five years old in her native Iran. While other little girls were playing dolls, Sarmadi would ask her grandfather to take her out to eat. That early passion stayed with her and led her on an epicurean journey across Europe and the United States that helped her develop a clear vision of what a restaurant can be: an anchor of a neighborhood, where communities gather to socialize, restore and cultivate a reverence for finely crafted food.

While refining her concept, Sarmadi set out to master the key elements of a financially profitable establishment. For six years, she worked as a Client Relations Liaison for a private financial lender to the restaurant industry. Her experience analyzing concepts, markets, projections and business models to assess viability and profitability prepared her for the rigors and variances of running her own bistro.

In five years, Sarmadi’s restaurant has become an institution in downtown Los Angeles. “Everybody knows Church & State,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold in 2011. “It rules its street of luxury lofts, and it is nearly as hard as ever to get a table on a Friday night, even when the tables spill over onto the sidewalk.”

Sarmadi is currently working on her next restaurant, which will speak to the growing sophistication of diners with lighter-style French Mediterranean cuisine that relies on fish and seasonal vegetables to highlight the beauty and refinement of what grows out of the ground. Not surprisingly, the eatery will be located on a still under-appreciated corner of downtown in the historical Douglas Building. Once again, Sarmadi is initiating a new wave of culinary and cultural evolution in Los Angeles, albeit one with personal advantages. “There isn’t enough serious food in L.A.,” she says. “I create restaurants where I want to eat.”