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The Distinguished Gourmand: Republique

In which a recent meal – enjoyed with a visiting family member – is reviewed. Did I like it? Did I hate it? What do YOU think? Do you really think I’d write about something I hated? C’mon, man! Of course I liked it!

In preparation for updating my 25 Best Meals In Los Angeles list, I started thinking about recent meals I’ve enjoyed around town. Apparently, I have neglected — since 2016 — to build version 5.0 of my little list. Ergo, there are sure to be a decent amount of changes coming before it is published.

One restaurant that is sure to join the list — spoiler alert! — is Republique. A few weeks ago my sister came to visit. As is custom, her stays here usually involve one “fancy” meal. On previous visits, hot-spots like Gwen, Otium, and Animal have played the role of her preferred dining destination. I gave her several options with brief descriptions, and her decision came down to the brand-spankin’ new APL in Hollywood, or the vaunted Republique over on La Brea. One look at the menu was enough for her to commit to the latter.

Foie Gras Torchon Toast (apricot, yuzu, sesame) – It’s impossible to take my sister to a restaurant without her demanding “all the foie,” which was really hard during the brief period when foie legally could not be served in Los Angeles. These toasts were the perfect bite to begin our meal, which was paced perfectly and left us feeling full but not stuffed. She paired her meal with a cocktail (I think there was muddled strawberry in it?) followed by several vodka/sodas, while I opted for a by-the-glass Beaujolais.

 

Kanpachi Crudo (green Thai curry, oven-dried nectarines, basil, peanuts) – I’ll be honest, I was pushing for beef tartare or the other Foie dish on the menu, but our server said the Kanpachi was a favorite so we had to try it. I am a firm believer in this dish now. It had a great mounting heat to it, growing spicier with each successive bite. The nectarines were bursting with flavor, the basil and peanuts adding verdant pepperiness and nuttiness/texture respectively.

 

Brussels Sprouts (broccoli di cicco, applewood-smoked bacon, goat’s cheese, salsa verde) – The sprouts were fantastic, one of the better preparations I’ve had lately, although the ones at Jar might still be my favorite in town. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with goat cheese and bacon. It comes down to ratios, and the ratios here were spot on – not overwhelming, just enough to spruce up each bite.

 

 

 

Octopus (harry’s berries strawberries, cabbage, pistachios, chile, lime) – My sister wasn’t too keen on the octopus, but when I started effusively praising Harry’s Berries (if you follow me on IG you know the depths of my love) she caved and decided to order it. I think the end result was her really liking it, but I don’t remember. I thought it was better than the sprouts in terms of our salad/vegetable dishes, but she might have thought otherwise. The octopus was tender, there was a teensy bit of heat from the chile, but really it’s all about the Harry’s Berries, guys. Harry’s Berries. HARRY’S BERRIES.

 

Tournedos Rossini (prime beef filet, foie gras, Australian black winter truffles) – Our main course was the prime beef filet, which came topped with seared foie, and was then re-topped with black truffles — which were shaved tableside. For a completely over-the-top, decadent dish it wasn’t too dense or rich! That was my big takeaway here. The beef was cooked perfectly, the foie was melt-in-your-mouth buttery and rich, and the truffles added an earthy, umami element that the other two ingredients demanded. The pureed potatoes (the green stuff in the photo) were delicious, as well. Plate-scrapingly good.

 

Sabayon (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sorbet) – As wonderful as the dinner menu is at Republique, the place might be even better known for the desserts. The pastry chef was recently nominated for a James Beard award, and her creations were two of the highlights of our meal. I’m not a big sweets guy, but my sister insisted on trying the Sabayon, which was really really fucking good. The fruit was so fresh, and the creaminess of the sauce acted as the perfect foil for those berry flavors. Outstanding.

 

Brillat-Savarin Cheesecake (cherries, graham cracker ice cream) – Our server recommended the “deconstructed” cheesecake, which was maybe a tiny bit less fantastic than the sabayon. Together these two desserts were the perfect way to conclude what was — from start to finish — an incredible meal. There was not a single bad note to report, which is exactly what one should expect when dining at Republique. It’s not a question of whether your meal is going to be “good” or “bad,” it’s a question of whether or not you’ll be content to only consume that which you order. Repeated visits are required. I haven’t even espoused the wonder of the Normandy butter. We skipped the pasta menu during this meal. Dinner here is exactly what you make of it, and since our bellies have a finite amount of space to fill, to return is the only option!

And there you have it. A clear “25 Best” entrant that will hopefully remain on my list for years to come. If you live in Los Angeles (or are just visiting) and somehow haven’t tried Republique yet, I encourage you to pay them a visit.

Zola Jesus – Remains [MP3]

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