Saturday night at Republic. I have to say, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it (foodwise) - so the expectations were quite low.
Annoying #1 - walking up to the door. 7:30pm, Saturday night. It's not busy. At all. You are greeted by a guy in a suit with a clipboard. Now, if there was a LINE outside.. anything.. I'd understand. This was borderline ridiculous. What's more, someone in my party had just entered minutes before, he crossed the reservation name off the list, and had trouble finding it. Again, I'm going to DINNER at 7:30, not trying to get into the club.
The space is very pretty - well layed out. I thought the tables were well spaced, the bar area is lovely, and the bartender quite friendly and helpful. After a round of really great cocktails, we were off to be seated for dinner.
We sat at a 4-top in the middle of the restaurant. If you look at SIV's review and picture, you'll see the semi-circle chairs. While they were comfortable, I had trouble figuring out what to do with my arms - it felt awkward to have them by my side (a bit constrained) and even more awkward to have them resting on the 'arm rest'.
The room itself was ascetically pleasing. Not too over the top, the high ceilings gave the space a very open/large feeling. I thought seating was very well placed.
Although, a somewhat annoying touch is their wine area. The wine is beautifully displayed on one wall of the restaurant. It's an enclosed area where there is a woman whose job (poor soul) it is to 'fetch' the wine. She does so by repelling up and down (harness included) -- which, in and of itself is an interesting touch -- but the way she did it was excruciatingly painful, because she was SO over dramatic and over the top; it threw any sense of 'cool' factor right out the window. She'd kick back one leg and then the other, dramatically arching her hand from waist level to above her head as she went up and down... is this really necessary? Shouldn't the FOOD be the draw to a restaurant? oh yeah, this is Hollywood... ;)
Speaking of FOOD... on to the chow!
Bread - 2 containers of bread are served. A jalapeno cake and corn bread. I didn't think either were particularly good. The corn bread was better than the other. My dining companions seemed to enjoy it, but I was not impressed. Edible, but not worth the calories. ;)
Appetizers: Going off a strong recommendation from our waitress, I tried the BBQ Pork Lollipops. I was not disappointed. Bascially, three pieces of very tender bbq'd pork -- it was very soft, succulent, and melted in your mouth - yum! Very good!! It was served with this strange spicy cole slaw (yuck) on top of a piece of cornbread (which was ok - better than what was served earlier) My dining companions had the warm goat cheese salad (didn't try, but said was good), the shrimp & grits (they raved about the shrimp), and the lobster corn dogs. yes, you read that right - lobster corn dogs! This was based on a rec from the bartender. In the bite I tried there was lots of corn dog and little lobster -- for $20, not sure if it was completely worth it... but it WAS light and tasty -- and I would order it again.
Mains: I had the Cioppino -- wasn't all that impressed. The shrimp and the halibut were very nice (juicy), but the clams and the mussels didn't strike me as all that fresh. The menu mentioned garlic toast with it - and that was a joke. It was this tiny (maybe 1-2 inches in diameter) thin, round slice of bread. I used it to try to taste some of the white wine broth, but it didn't stand out at all. Dining companions had the filet (I didn't try - but they had no complaints) and sides of mac n' cheese and mashed potatoes. People! This is INCREDIBLE mac n' cheese. Made with orecchiette pasta (a favorite of mine) - it was creamy goodness and then some!
Desserts: Flourless Chocolate Cake and Bourbon Donuts. The chocolate cake is served in layers - 3 thin cake layers with cream in the middle. The cream was this strange citrus taste and was a very odd combination that didn't work. The donuts were good (although there was no trace of bourbon to be found) - 3 small donuts with chocolate sauce to dip, sprinkles and toasted almonds. The sprinkles were a cute touch. Nothing stellar here.
Overall, it was a decent dining experience -- service was also good. I'm not dying to return, but wouldn't be opposed if I had to. And if I did, I'd focus on appetizers and get a few of those... and definitely a side of mac n' cheese!
Damage: for 4 appetizers, 3 mains, 3 sides, 2 desserts 2 glasses of champagne, 1 glass of wine, 2 cocktails - after tax, pre-tip: $313
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