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Republic Restaurant & Lounge, California

A cigar people's "Republic" in Los Angeles.
Alejandro Benes
Posted: October 24, 2007

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I'm not recommending you eat this way when you visit Republic -- or anywhere else for that matter -- as you tempt severe discomfort by the end of the evening, but you might want to know that Republic offers a very good dry-aged, mesquite-grilled New York strip steak. This night, we have it with a drizzle of a veal stock-red wine reduction. Alongside comes a bulb of roasted garlic. Lenzo makes sure we try the creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms and smoked cheddar macaroni and cheese. The sommelier picks out a 2000 half-bottle of B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estates Cabernet Sauvignon.

How are you holding up? We've got only two more dishes before dessert. Just for yuks, we tuck into a couple of beautifully grilled Colorado lamb chops. The flavor just pops. Remarkably, we have the temerity to request a taste of the mini pulled pork "sliders." But just one, please, not the three promised on the menu. Of course, all three come out. They are advertised as coming with a "Carolina mop," but very sweet barbecue sauce coats the shredded pig. Nothing bad, just a little more sugar and less vinegar than you might have expected if you grew up, like I did, IN NORTH CAROLINA. It is nicely balanced by a big slice of sour pickle inside the little brioche. Excellent contrast.

Desserts play well with cigars also. Three appear tonight: a warm molten chocolate cake with a caramel ice cream on top; a really firm bread pudding with vanilla ice cream; and a trio of flans -- espresso, mango and vanilla -- in espresso cups. Please, bring me an espresso and light my cigar before I eat anything else.

Ultimately, Republic certainly succeeds as a restaurant. Lenzo is planning to add a giant flat-screen TV to the patio for Monday Night Football. That will invite great possibilities, not the least of which is introducing Republic to a new clientele, one that is not looking to make the club scene, but is looking for a relaxed, comfortable place to enjoy great food and wine.

One improvement that could be made is to the cigar list. Right now, the selection is mostly from big producers. Changes are in the works. The quest is to make sure that the cigar menu matches Republic's aspirations to the eclectic evident throughout the restaurant. Now, let's talk about the guy with the velvet rope at the front door.

Alejandro Benes stays cool as a writer and businessperson in Southern California.

Republic Restaurant & Lounge
650 N. La Cienega Boulevard (corner of Melrose Place)
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Tel: 310-360-7070
Web: (check out the wine list)
Fri -- Sat: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. or beyond
Entrée prices range from $31 to $50
Club nights: Bottle service is $300 per bottle, two-bottle minimum

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