Eat this now: baked burrata cheese with tomato jam. Photo by Nancy Nichols

Restaurant Review

First Look: Republic Texas Tavern

This new-ish restaurant is off to a slow start, but it's a keeper.

Skinny chicken tacos. Photo by Nancy Nichols

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.

Comments

  • The Voice of Reason

    Seriously? The food is horrible. Horrible. I’m sure Chef Kent is a delightful person, and a great corporate citizen, but this just doesn’t cut it. Nor, by the way, do his embarrassingly pathetic crab cakes at Lover’s Seafood (which taste as if they had been purchased from the frozen food section at Tom Thumb), nor the frozen pizza he is serving at Chelsea Corner. Can we at least be honest about the food, even when it comes to chefs we like?

    • NancyNichols

      To clarify, Rathbun is not the chef in the kitchens you mention above. He collaborated with the menu. That said, Republic admittedly struggled after they first opened, but they have shored up the talent in the kitchen.

  • Creede Williams

    Agreed, Nancy. Terrific food and great vibe.

  • Mavdog

    Been there twice. Do not expect there to be a 3rd time.
    Food is average at best and prices are too high for what they put on the table.
    There is nothing special about their food, and there are many places around to get a better meal.

    • NancyNichols

      May I ask when you visited? They’ve had change in kitchen staff in the last month.

  • BBrooks630

    The restaurant is very nice in general, and the food is above average. We like the environment and proximity. The service though has been very good or very poor. We took my parents there last weekend, and my mother, who rarely complains too much, called the service “atrocious.” It wasn’t that bad, but it is hit or miss.