Update: 8/22, 2:24 p.m. For all of you (okay, us) who were wondering if Walter Manzke will be putting his justly famous pigs ears on the menu of République when he opens his new restaurant in the spring, the chef has just confirmed it. Well, sort of. "Yeah, I'll probably serve pigs ears. Some kind of pig. Something." Manzke says he hasn't finalized the menu yet, so that's about as good as you're going to get. Sorry.
If he doesn't sound as crazy about the dish as you are, chalk it up to the fact that pigs ears are on a lot of menus these days, which they were not when Manzke began serving them at Church & State. "I put them on the menu because they were cheap and nobody was using them. Oh, and they're good." That pretty much sums it up. As for why he picked downtown for the location of the new place(s), Manzke was similarly circumspect. "I don't know. I like downtown." Score one for actual architecture too. "The building is a lot of it. It just has a feeling that a new structure doesn't. I don't see a lot of that here."
For everyone who's been stalking Walter Manzke since he left Church & State, following him from farmers market to food festival to Le Saint Amour like misplaced Dylan groupies, here finally is the news you've been waiting for. Manzke is finally opening his own place.
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Manzke and his business partner and wife Margarita Manzke will open both République and Factory Baking Company sometime next spring. The restaurant will be (surprise!) French-inspired, and will focus on so-called "bistronomy" food. Okay, so what's that? Think high-end food in a bistro setting. Or, to put it in Los Angeles terms: Bastide crossed with Church & State. Bastide, of course, was where both Manzkes worked before Joe Pytka's restaurant fractured into a handful of chefs, sommeliers, crates of wildly expensive wine and boxes of gorgeous books and ultimately closed earlier this year.
République and Factory Baking Company will both go into Factory Place Arts Complex, an 8,000 square foot location in a 1920s warehouse in downtown's arts district in the early months of 2012.
République will seat 140 and have a private dining room and patio, an open kitchen and bar. The name is meant to recall the neighborhood of the same name in Paris, where Manzke has been spending time in the last year, between gigs in Chicago and Culver City.
Factory Baking Company is going into the same building, and will offer faster, more casual items throughout the day: croissants and coffee, salads and sandwiches, charcuterie platters and breads. Factory Baking Company will bake its own breads and pastries and supply République, which, given Marge Manzke's considerable skills, will make the complex a destination boulangerie as well as -- please God -- a place to once again order her husband's Platonic ideal of pig's ears. Finally, we can all take those GPS trackers off their car.