The New Republic

The kitchen and bar serve some interesting and tasty American fare, but overall it’s no Fado

Photo by Anthony MairRepublic abolished Fado’s look.

Photo by Anthony MairRepublic abolished Fado’s look and instituted glorious waffles.

What makes a restaurant feel that it has to create a menu that is all things for all people? Chefs, like any craftsmen, have both strengths and weaknesses. Restaurants are better when they stick to what they know.

Chef Josh Green of the new Republic Kitchen & Bar clearly has talent. His refreshing spin on an American comfort food menu is good, but there are holes, some gaping.

Republic, in a bustling strip mall on Eastern Avenue south of Interstate 215, recently replaced the Irish pub Fado, a national chain whose food I like. And I’m evidently not alone; some of the customers I’ve seen wandering in are still looking for the bangers, corned beef and whiskey bread pudding that the old place used to serve.

The space has been totally redone. The theme is a relaxed restaurant and bar concept, where locals can hang out and eat food they grew up with. Where there were once Celtic eaves and a series of small rooms, there is a large dining area with a white brick wall and a large bar, furnished with banquettes and hard wooden chairs. The lounge is now upstairs, a nice place for kicking back with a game of darts, like at, hey, an Irish pub.

Green impressed me on my first meal with terrific Pigs in the Blanket—cocktail franks in pastry jackets with cheddar fondue and good whole-grain mustard on the side. I also loved the crust on my chicken potpie as well, but I could have used a microscope to find the chicken inside.

Oddly, a whole chicken, looking rather grand on a large platter served with a choice of two sides, may be the best deal on the menu, at $24. I loved the moist meat and crisp skin. The sides I chose—broccoli tossed in garlic and oil, and creamed corn that was just too creamy—were fair.

At lunch, I was more impressed by a Kobe-beef sloppy joe. I’d put it up against any sloppy joe in the city. And when I tried the lobster potpie, I didn’t have to search for the lobster meat. There was plenty of it.

I ran into a few problems at Sunday brunch, in spite of chicken and waffles that I’d call world-class and delicious homemade sticky buns. I sent back my omelet, which I had ordered easy, because it was as rubbery as a squash ball. When it came back, it was less so, but still far from easy.

And the Monte Cristo needed even more work. I was expecting egg-battered French toast filled with ham, turkey and Gruyère, dusted with powdered sugar. Instead, I got a greasy sandwich with no batter. And the traditional strawberry jam on the side was missing, as well.

But Green makes some excellent pancakes. In addition to the normal pancakes, which are yeasty, fluffy and available for lunch and dinner, toothsome lemon ricotta pancakes are addictively good.

If you have the appetite, poached egg on pastrami hash is a hoot, though not on anyone’s healthful eating regimen. And the TV Dinners (from the dinner menu) are interesting, served in little trays. I’d take the meatloaf over the turkey—the dry stuffing in the turkey tray can’t even compete with Stove Top.

There are nice cupcakes and an excellent cookie plate for dessert. Oh, and yes, they do serve Guinness, plus more than 20 other brews on tap.

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