When they open the door to Bicyclette, diners might think they’ve stumbled into a cozy bistro in an old house somewhere outside of Paris. That’s the feeling chef-owner Walter Manzke was trying to conjure when he opened Bicyclette on Pico Boulevard near Century City in June.
The Republique proprietor was known for his elevated classic French cooking at Bastide and Church and State, and he’s now bringing the same Gallic sensibility to the new bistro along with his wife, pastry chef Margarita Manzke. The warm vibe “was inspired by Church and State,” Manzke says. “We set out to create something that looked and felt like a true Parisian bistro — something high energy and unpretentious.”
The bustling and intimate lower-level bistro is just the first stage – later this year, Bicyclette Restaurant will offer a luxe tasting menu on the upper level of the restaurant that formerly housed Picca Restaurant, a development that’s sure to appeal to faithful Republique fans like Phil Rosenthal and Eric Wareheim. “The bistro, with its lively energy and being in a basement, is like the playroom or maybe den of the house, while the upstairs is the formal dining room, but they are still one house,” Manzke specifies.
Bicyclette’s menu is “firmly rooted in France,” says Walter Manzke, with each dish carefully constructed to be “the best version of itself.” The bouillabaisse, he explains, “is traditional in the way we make the broth – the soul of the dish – using all the fish bones and shrimp shells. Instead of then boiling all the seafood at once, we cook each one separately to its optimal texture and doneness, and then plate it with the slow cooked broth.”
Church and State fans might remember the decadent Burgundy escargots en croute, which Manzke says he’s “made the same way since first learning the dish from one my earliest mentors at the first fine dining restaurant I ever worked at in San Diego. It has all the classic flavors and seasonings of escargot; the puff pastry top which ‘houses’ the escargot and butter makes a great dish even better.”
Best-seller: Soft egg in the shell: “It’s true to the classic with warm, softly scrambled eggs and the best caviar.”
Don’t miss: Mary’s chicken breast Viennoise; Margarita’s house-baked baguette with duck liver mousse. “The butter we’re serving, by Rodolphe le Meunier, is one of the truly exceptional butters in the world,” he specifies.
Secret weapon: The whimsically-illustrated 28-page cocktail menu with pages devoted to vintage drinks like sours and cobblers along with eaux de vie and creative non-alcoholic concoctions. It’s so charming that some diners are making off with souvenirs.
Bicyclette Bistro, 9575 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles