Having opened just a few weeks ago, Republic seems to have taken Takoma Park by storm. Owned by the Black Restaurant Group, the same owners of Pearl Dive and Black Jack, this restaurant clearly has money behind it and a bumpin' social scene to match. Takoma Park isn't known for having nice establishments so we weren't expecting much, but when we walked into Republic, it was like walking into a Logan Circle restaurant.
They don't take reservations so me and my friend put our names down for a 45-minute wait. They texted me to confirm the wait and told me to watch my phone for a text letting me know once the table was ready. We walked over to a very busy bar and placed an order for drinks. Luckily a couple was leaving just as we arrived so we actually got seats at the bar. The unfortunate thing that we didn't realize is that we were sitting at an oyster bar with a clear view of them shucking oysters the whole time. Oh, well.
The decor appeared like they had spent some serious money on it. It had an old fashioned feel with red velvet booths, wallpaper, and pony-hair barstools (boo). A wrought iron fence separated the large bar area from the dining area and the bar had a great selection of liquor. My Old Fashioned made with bourbon, bitters and orange peel was pretty good. The drink selection consisted of specialty cocktails, classic cocktails, local drafts, cans, and wine so pretty much everything.
After exactly 45 minutes, we were seated. When asked about the vegan options, we were told that any salad could be veganized as could most of the market vegetable sides except for the lentil dish. And there was one vegan entree. So we started with their finest sparkling water as we perused the menu and placed our orders.
We were delightfully surprised to find that the bread they bake in-house is vegan and instead of coming with butter, it comes with a vegan white bean puree. Superb! The bread was soft, fresh, and salty and was very much like an everything bagel without the bagel. The spread was an awesome touch.
We started with the Ancient Grain Salad, which is vegan as-is. It was loaded with quinoa, wild rice, and farro with pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and mint in a sweet pomegranate dressing and topped with crispy fried shallots. We really enjoyed this dish, but were surprised it wasn't served warm as it seemed like it would have been better as a warm dish. Regardless, it was really good.
For the entree, we both ordered the Black Olive Farro with Wood Roasted Mushrooms. The hearty mushrooms were roasted to perfection while the Swiss Chard was also cooked perfectly -- not too long or too short and atop the farro, it made for a hearty, filling dish. The balsamic braised cippolini onions added a nice sweetness to an otherwise meaty dish. This one was a winner.
We also had a serving of the Crispy Brussels Sprouts sans the parmesan. These Brussels sprouts were pretty good as the smoke paprika and lemon added much flavor to the dish, however, they were a bit too oily for our palates and a little overdone for our taste.
I also ordered a glass of the La Cabotte Cotes Du Rhone, France, which was an elegant pairing for these dishes.
Lastly, we were surprised to find out that the special dessert of the evening was vegan so, of course, we had to try it and we were glad we did. It was a poached pear with brandied apple sorbet and a ginger pistachio crumble. It had just the right sweetness and balance for a spectacular dessert.
In the end, we were quite pleased with the experience. The entrees at $17 were a bit pricey while the sides at $7-$8 were on point. The dessert was also just $8. The food was very good, other than the Brussels sprouts being on the oily side and the service was pretty good as well. I see great things in the future for this restaurant. The big question is always...Is it worth a 45-minute wait. I'd say, "yes."
6939 Laurel Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912