Photos By Emily Cohen, Words By Priya Konings
Takoma Park residents can officially rejoice: Republic, the neighborhood’s first fine dining restaurant, has finally opened its doors. And of course, Brightest Young Things made sure to appear at the soft opening, to bring you complete coverage of the space, menu, and most importantly, beverage service.
The venue is gorgeous, with its original floors, decadent Victorian red velvet booths, and rustic wood tables. The old world charm is perfect for Takoma Park, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the area. Upside down steel buckets are transformed into light fixtures, wall paper hails from the 1960s, and quotations from Johnny Cash hang in the bar. The restaurant is comprised of a bar, main dining room, and an outdoor patio that is complete with twinkling lights, heat lamps, and picnic benches.
The food at Republic is signature Jeff Black, seafood-heavy and classic American, with dishes like hearty oyster po’boys, crispy shrimp tempura, and grilled sandwiches.
Oysters, grilled and raw, are plentiful as they are at his other restaurants.
One caveat: The soft opening was sorely lacking in vegetarian dishes, which is surprising considering Black was quoted saying he knew that Takoma Park had a volume of vegetarian residents and he did plan on featuring several vegetarian items. Executive Chef Danny Wells, Black’s partner in the Republic endeavor and a Takoma Park native, was present at the opening and did assure guests that the final menu would feature vegetarian entrees and sides. He described the menu as “seasonal America, with appetizers, entrees and side dishes. All sections of the menu will include vegetarian options.”
Beverages are in abundance at Republic, with whimsical cocktails such as the “Advocate for Local Products,” a nod to Takoma Park’s allegiance to environmentalism. The drink is made with gin, Bee George honey lemon juice, and a “citrus hat.”
The “Fascist Killer” proved to be another popular choice amongst guests; it’s a sweet, heady concoction, with bourbon, green chartreuse, averna amaro, basil, and lemon peel.
Bar manager Brett Robinson promises to keep the beverage aspect of the restaurant interesting, and in fact plans to introduce a strong coffee element to the restaurant in addition to its cocktail menu.
The restaurant is currently open for dinner only, with lunch and brunch service being added soon. Hopefully they will be taking reservations! The Black Restaurant Group has only met with success in the seven other restaurants it operates; it seems Republic will follow on a similar path.