Republique (Los Angeles, CA) 
624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 4/16/15
I first dined at Republique soon after it opened at the end of 2013. That meal had its ups-and-downs but was generally a little disappointing. Since then, the restaurant has been one of the most oft-praised and highly acclaimed restaurants in town over the past 18 months. I was due for a return to the restaurant hoping the kitchen and service had worked out any kinks.
The menu’s changed a fair amount since I was last here, though there are a few menu mainstays. On this visit, the focus was on new dishes getting a sampling of appetizers, a couple of main courses and a dessert (we skipped dessert last time).
Oysters kumamoto, shigoku, blue point, sweet petite, fishers island
The meal began with 6 oysters of with 5 different kinds. Never a bad way to start a meal.
Hamachi Crudo green thai avocado curry, citrus, peanuts
Thick slices of yellowtail were paired with a very interesting Thai curry avocado sauce. It was delicious, bringing a lot of fresh lemongrass and galangal flavors to the mix.
Stinging Nettle Cavatelli porcini mushrooms, parmesan
Loved the addicting chew of the cavatelli contrasted by tender porcini mushrooms. A very savory, buttery sauce brought it all together.
Sonoma Duck Leg Confit foie gras, kimchi fried rice, duck egg
I think the duck leg was fried, making for a great crispy texture all around. It was very flavorful too, and so was the kimchi fried rice. A perfectly fried egg topped it all off. A very nice dish, except I totally missed the foie gras…however it was incorporated.
Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib anson mills polenta, porcini mushrooms, sugar snap peas
The short rib was pink and tender but surprisingly fairly dry. The piece of beef was also smaller than anticipated for a main; it couldn’t have been more then 3-4 ounces for $32. Creamy polenta and porcini were tasty, but altogether the dish was just fine.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake chai milk tea
We finished with a slice of rich and moist chocolate cake with salted caramel. Pretty tasty with strong chocolate and caramel flavors. A heavier dessert, the shots of chai milk tea helped to balance it out.
I enjoyed the food on this visit better than my last; execution was better and I thought some of the plates we had showed off a lot of creativity and different interpretations. However I still think it’s a very-good-not-great restaurant and I still don’t understand the hype surrounding the restaurant. I also thought food was a little bit more expensive than expected for the level of cooking; the food is relatively straightforward but these 5 dishes & dessert somehow ended up tallying about $160 in food only.
I never, ever order oysters at a restaurant if I’m concerned about price. They’re honestly kinda boring, priced at $3-3.5 each (at a break-even price for most restaurants), and just pump up your check a good $18-20 plus tax and tip. Republique is really good these days, imho, even better than when it opened. You seemed to like all of your dishes except the braised short rib, which did seem a little paltry for the price. I think Republique is one of those situations where price always doesn’t matter because it’s going to be jam packed regardless. That’s why I see it as more of a special occasion or business dinner place, but not the kind of spot that I’m going to frequent.
I agree that Republique doesn’t need to lower prices per se, clearly demand is strong and can support that price level. I just thought, for me, I could find better value elsewhere for the level of food.
I almost never order oysters either (or charcuterie/salumi unless it’s done in-house), but I got overruled in this case.