I love stumbling into a restaurant I know very little about and getting blown away by the food. I knew Republic Texas Tavern opened in early 2017 and I knew Kent Rathbun designed the menu. But I never heard a word about it. Sometimes I would drive by the now transformed small shopping center on Inwood Road north of Forest Lane across from Jesuit. The roster of restaurants there has grown and now includes East Hampton Sandwich Company and Village Burger Bar.
The u-shaped bar demands your attention. Rows of wooden beams create a faux vaulted ceiling below the actual vaulted ceiling. It creates a rustic, intimate experience—unless you don’t like TVs. But this is a guy-ish bar and the handful of men I witnessed drinking brown liquor were there to watch them. Then I learned they offered 50 bourbons and whiskeys. Who cares what’s on, right?
The seating area to the right side of the bar is a line of deep cream-colored booths. The menu is a compilation of steak, pork, ribs, burgers with seafood specials, other than the shrimp and grits and salmon. Salads and sides have Rathbun’s cheffy touch. Field (yawn) greens are dressed up with candied pecans and goat cheese. Dallas boys will be happy to find a wedge, the lowest common denominator salad ever invented, and a good ole wood-grilled tenderloin filet with bourbon peppercorn sauce and a side of fingerling potatoes.
More adventurous eaters will have trouble choosing side dishes. Smoked corn succotash and griddled hoe cakes are served with a grilled Berkshire pork tenderloin. Bay of Fundy Salmon comes with a risotto filled with charred Brussels sprouts. I could have just ordered every side on the menu and been content. However, I wouldn’t have gotten past sweet potato chilaquiles with green chiles and strips of corn tortillas. Simply the best and satisfying side dish to pass my lips this year.
But wait! I’ve saved the greatest dish we tried for last. I’m typing it here so that it stays in your mind as something you must eat. Baked burrata cheese with tomato jam. It’s served with warm, toasted focaccia bread sourced from Esmeralda’s French Bakery.
This neighborhood needs a great neighborhood bar with great bar food. I’d say Republic Texas Tavern is a perfect fit.