The Republic Restaurant & Bar, 2053 W. Broad St
Karisa: I suggested a brunch at The Republic mostly for Rocket Tots, and I had a groupon. I've been there a lot for beer after social sports, but haven't had many (sober) meals there, so I was excited to brunch it up. On my suggestion, we started with Rocket Tots, no bacon. I know, I know...to some this is sacrilegious; get over it, they were still amazing. Tots, covered in multiple cheese types and jalapeno served with amazing ranch (seriously, their ranch is fantastic) and srirachay ranchero sauce. Basically my favorite thing ever. I wish it was socially acceptable and not heart attack inducing to eat them every day. Now I want them for dinner...sigh.
Anyway, we were there for brunch, not to bask in the glory of the tots. I'd seen the brunch menu before, so I knew there were no benedict options. No worries, other things sounded super tasty. Surprise, surprise, the special of the day: crab cake benedict. Win! After gorging myself on tots, I wasn't able to eat much of it, but it was pretty good. Far from the best crab benedict I've ever had (mmm, Stella's), but far from the worst. Perfectly acceptable.
Go to The Republic, get a beer, order Rocket Tots, let the happiness ensue.
Andrea: This was my first brunching experience at The Republic and I think I've decided to stick to dinners and late night eats and drinks. The food was definitely good, but with all the other brunching destinations in town, this one definitely did not emerge out of the middle of the pack. I almost ordered legitimate lunch this week because eggs just weren't sounding all that great to me. Almost all of the breakfasty items on the menu had some combination of eggs, meats (bacon or sausage), peppers, and onions. Not very good on originality points, although they did have some specials (a bananas foster french toast and Karisa's boyfriend, crab benedict). The lunch sandwiches actually sounded pretty yummy but Karisa was giving me the stink eye so I went traditional with my choice and had the breakfast pizzeta (crispy bacon, sweet sausage, egg, and cheese on a buttery crust). The portion wasn't huge but I had some rocket tots and a FABULOUS summery beer (Wild Wolf Blond Hunny Ale - so excited to learn that it's a local Virginia beer...will definitely have to make a trip to Nelson County, but that's for a different blog!). We all agreed that the coffee was crap and the service wasn't all that great, but damn were those rocket tots good!
Michele: I arrived first at the Republic this week for brunch. All the tables were full, so I told the hostess we would sit at the bar. I ordered my Bloody Mary to enjoy while waiting. By the time Karisa and Andrea arrived, there were some available tables. I'll bet the staff thought we were crazy because we tried two different tables before finally settling on one along the side.
In any case, Karisa recommended we start off with an order of tots to go with our coffee and drinks. I had never had the tots at the Republic before, so I was in for a treat. They are served pretty much like nachos with cheese and jalapenos and two different dipping sauces. It was hard not to completely fill up my stomach on the tots. One of the sauces tasted very similar to Taco Bell sauce, which is most certainly a good thing. For my meal I decided on the breakfast burrito with sausage added and grits on the side. There was egg, peppers, onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and sausage inside this burrito with salsa and sour cream on the side. It was quite good, but unfortunately I think I ate too many tots before the main course came. There was both cheddar and pepper jack inside the burrito, hard to beat two cheeses in one dish. The grits were to die for. They were coarse and cheesy, my favorite.
Overall, I'd say we had an ok experience at the Republic this week. The service and the drinks were lacking. The coffee tasted terrible. My Bloody Mary tasted like straight cocktail sauce. However, I will say that the food was fantastic. I've been here for dinner a couple of times, and my meals have been great those times as well. I would come to the Republic again, but maybe I'll stick to dinner next time. They do a great job with their food and beer.
Food - Good. Tasty, but not very original on the breakfast side. There were lots of lunch options, however, that seemed to be able to suit a range of eaters. They do fried stuff well (rocket tots are the prime example!)
Ambiance - Good. Excellent call on switching the smoking and non-smoking sides of the bar; especially since it didn't seem to have retained any of its former tobacco-infused air.
The bricked walls and bar area complete with televisions and lighting are quite cool. The long and narrow nature of the space can also lend itself to some rocking good people watching.
Service - Fair. There was a bit of a debacle being seated initially and it was unclear who the hostess was. They also weren't very attentive for beverage refills or bringing drink menus either.
Coffee - Poor. Our first poor yet! We all barely had one cup and I feel like the waitress may have been embarrassed that it was so bad because she didn't even offer to refill it! Andrea's was the bottom of the pot so it came out kinda cold. Karisa's and Michele's new, hot cups weren't any better, though.
Mimosa - Good. Cheap, standard mimosa. Lots of sparkly, not much OJ.
Bloody Mary - Fair. Tasted like straight up cocktail sauce.