Wow! Vegas has arrived, right here in West Hollywood. Don’t bother with the six-hour drive when all you have to pay is the $7 parking fee to feel as if you’ve been transported right onto the swankiest part of the strip!

650 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Cuisine: Vegas-style anything goes
The Scene: Fabulous, Chic and Elegant
Must Try: Lobster Corn Dogs
Star Rating: 3.5 of 4
Average Cost: $23-42 entrees

Republic is very democratic; free thinking and independent from the main stream; what a total knock out to experience. From the moment you arrive, a handsome and courteous (no attitude at this place, thank god) gent opens the door for you as a rain-shower waterfall drops from the ceiling behind him, immediately telling you you’re in for an event. Interior designer Margaret O’Brien appoints the foyer with deceivingly soft creamy couches next to a handsome bar, and one side of the room is dressed with red-beaded wallpaper that screams to be fondled (as do some of the wait-staff). Soon after checking in with the hostess, you are whisked into the jaw-dropping main dining room that is an explosion of excitement. It’s an enormous space, yet manages to feel cozy due to the four gi-normous chandeliers that are composed of long strands of string dropping half way down the height of the room. They’re all centered around a bizarrely incongruent grouping of animal antlers that center the room and remind you of the whimsical nature of dining out.

We were seated at an impeccably set table, adorned by a napkin rolled and tied with a sweet ribbon claiming it belonged to Republic. The cutlery was unique without being unusable, and as Michael viewed the action in this stunning room, Scott took in the abalone-textured walls that surrounded various Eric Orr-like water fountains sensuously dripping from the ceiling (which, admittedly, made him want to run to the bathroom on several occasions). Dramatic fireplaces with floor to ceiling chains warm the surroundings. Centered on one wall is a two story glass wine room (think Oriole in Vegas) that has been taken one step further by having a hot looking “angel” flying up and down for bottles, complete with a set of wings.

And the food is pretty fabulous too. Before you start, Executive Chef Gabriel Morales and Chef de Cuisine Mark Mittleman (both formerly from the Beverly Hills Hotel) serve up hot, homemade biscuits with whipped honey butter, as well as sweet jalapeño bread, both of which come piping hot to your table. Scott was working a glass of Snowden Lost Vineyard Napa 2002 Cabernet ($14) and was more than happy to make this his entire meal. That said, we both started with the Maine Lobster Corn Dogs that we couldn’t help but dunk into the accompanying sweet and hot mustard. It brought us back to summer days of corn dogs on the boardwalk, but this time for $21; don’t miss this grown-up taste treat (and speaking of treats, get either chiseled Adam or young Travis to run the food to you). Also devilishly tasty was the Mini Monte Cristo appetizer ($12) that came with strawberry rhubarb preserves and sweet potato fries. The fries were uneventful, but the Monte Cristo was light and scrumptious, and an extravagance for dinner. We enjoyed all the salads we tried, but particularly liked the Heirloom tomato salad with Texas Fry bread ($14).

The “Back Yard BBQ Style” Tasting Pork was our favorite entrée ($30), which offered a selection of pork belly pulled pork, pork loin and “six hour” baked beans; the latter sounded like something Michael’s mother may have made by mistake, if only she knew how to cook, but actually tasted pretty back-yard good. The pulled pork section was a taste selection that made us both happy we didn’t keep Kosher. The Colorado Lamb Rack ($34) was pretty average for a place this spectacular, and although it was a healthy portion, part of it came undercooked. The New England Lobster Bake came prepared with seaweed, corn clam chowder and Tabasco butter, making it a very interesting dish and worthy of it the daily market price ($55 when we ate it). Do accompany your food with some their interesting sides, such as Truffle-scented French fries, or their “world-famous” (at least so far in the world according to Republic) smoked cheddar mac n’ cheese—it will definitely knock your socks off.

The deserts are yummy, but basic. The Strawberry shortcake ($12) with honey and pine-applesauce is worthy of loosening your belts, while the Bourbon Glazed Doughnuts ($10) served with dipping sauces of liquid chocolate, sprinkles and almonds is worth loosening your pants. The chocolate soufflé with a dark chocolate truffle swirled inside the steaming hot pot of yet more chocolate, is worth tasting. The tea selection is elegantly served in Asian-style crockery, making the array of unusual teas taste even better.

The service provided to us on each occasion was warm and friendly, and although one of the runners did ask us “who got the lamb” (The Dining Duo’s personal pet peeve #1), they more than made up for it by swift and promptly cleaning up the nasty little mess Michael made when he catapulted his entire glass of champagne onto the table and Scott’s lap. And the glass was immediately replaced, no charge. Nice move Kyle Rodri (short for Rodriguez), the muy guapo waiter that hovered over our table with aplomb. Michelle, who waited on us previously at The Nook, also provided honest and great service.

After a tremendous meal, we inspected the rest of Republic and what it had to offer. The venue is massive and offers a variety of venues. Upstairs is a bar area where you can order up bottles of bubbly and take in the scene below. At 10pm the Disc Jockey spins unobtrusive music that fills the air above and below. The environment is cozy and welcoming, and the dramatically lit bar is an elegant backdrop. Around the corner is a “unisex” bathroom with mutual sinks that service both sexes, giving everyone a chance to democratically wash their hands together. Around that corner is a private room of extraordinary design. Coated in real Crocodile wall coverings that scream lavishness of unparalleled expense, the tables are set low for socializing and the bar is a focal point. A room with glass ceilings allows you view the moon, while at the end of the space a “fake” moon stares back at you with eerie reality. Yet another room (make sure to ask for table #302 which has a direct view into the dining room) offers up private cabanas where you can close the curtains and privately leaf through the back pages of Frontiers for the after party. There is a giant “ballroom” for special events, and a café on Melrose Place they call “Prana” that offers up it’s own special breakfast and lunch specialties.

Bottom line: you don’t have to be a Republican to have a great experience at Republic!

Posted by The Dining Duo | 3:22 PM | , , , , | 0 comments »

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