Restaurant: Republique [1, 2, 3]
Location: 624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. (310) 362-6115
Date: May 13, 2014
Cuisine: Modern Bistro French
Rating: Nice (loud) space, tasty hip food, great service
Republique is certainly one of LA’s most anticipated recent openings. Taking over the gorgeous old Campanile space, this replacement is helmed by Walter Manzke and Margarita Manzke (of Church & State and Milo & Olive). As you’ll see, while the core cuisine marries Brasserie with neo-tapas, this is a place that draws intensely on the current (2013-14) trends. LA Zeitgeist for sure.
On this particular night, I was invited again by Liz Lee of The Sage Society. She’s a friend of mine, wine dealer, and overall awesome foodie. She sure organizes an amazing evening. This one was mostly top flight Burgundy, and 13-14 bottles for 7 people! (Good thing I never drive to wine dinners)
The building is an interesting fusion of pre-war factory…
The main interior is nearly church-like. It’s been all opened up and looks great, but it’s big, tall, and covered in hard surfaces. That means loud!
The bar is packed and setup with all those fancy little fixings that are the hallmark of the fancy mixologist style of expensive yummy weak drink making. Being a wine guy, I don’t much care.
Along with the hard (read loud) surfaces, open kitchen, mixologist and the like, our obligatory aged wood communal tables are graced with this paper menu.
As we sit we are offered some yummy bread sticks (a.k.a. grissini). The bakery here is clearly first rate, although there was nowhere to really put them and half of mine ended up tumbling to the floor.
Our Sommelier for evening, Taylor Parsons. Unlike my mostly more chaotic Hedonist Dinners, he opened and poured the wine properly in flights, and even ordered up food to match.
NV Pierre Gerbais Champagne L’Originale. 90 points. Pinot Blanc, single vineyard planted 1904. Lovely purity, floral note of camomile, some mineral notes, freshly cut fennel and dill Strong mineral notes and back bone, floral, fennel, clay, pear, yellow plums with long finish.
Mixed oysters on the half-shell.
Asparagus and pepper tempura.
Warm Baguette with Normandy Butter. A completely first rate piece of bread. Utterly classic and unadorned. The taste reminds one of France.
Chips & Dip. Scottish king salmon tartare, cucumber, mint, yogurt, crispy pork rinds.
For vegetarians there were potato crisps.
2009 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve. 88 points. No formal note. This had a reasonably complex, smoky peach nose, with a hint of orange rind, was full bodied and plump on the palate, reasonably attractive stone fruit with creamy notes and low acidity. Paired fabulously with the pasta below.
English pea Agnolotti. Fresh blanched peas. Really a great pasta.
1996 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. Burghound 91. Moderate but still very fresh secondary notes that reflect nuances of bee’s wax and the first hints of sous bois lead to intense, vibrant and mineral-driven flavors infused with ample citrus, all wrapped by a firm, edgy and pure finish. While this has plenty of legs left, it has arrived at its peak though as noted, it should be capable of holding for another two decades. From another bottle affected by a touch of premature oxidation – The color is a more advanced gold than I expected and certainly more so than the bottle of ’96 Blanchots tasted a few days earlier. The nose reveals a trace of oxidation and while it’s by no means enough to kill the enjoyment of the wine, it does detract as well as give one pause as to how this will evolve over the next few years. The flavors are classic Valmur with its incredibly precise and mineral-laden, moderately austere flavors and laser-like focus. As is the case with so many ’96s, the nose is out in front of the structure and while I certainly liked this wine, it’s not clear that this is going to reward further cellaring.
Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns. Romanesco cauliflower, brown butter, lemon capers, almonds.
1990 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. This is one of those whites from the ’90 vintage that is trapped in a time capsule as it remains unusually youthful for a 20 year old wine even if no longer young as the nose displays the first hints of sous bois along with dried flower and citrus aromas. The delicious and highly mineral-infused middle weight flavors are racy, intense and beautifully delineated before culminating in a lingering and pure finish. This is in extraordinary condition if well-stored and should continue to drink well for years to come. In a word, impressive.
Hamachi Crudo. Pineapple, fresno chili, cilantro.
From my cellar: 1996 Maison Leroy Meursault 1er Cru. Burghound 92. This is still very fresh with only the initial hints of development to the airy white flower and hazelnut aromas that give way to rich, pure and gorgeously precise flavors that culminate in a mineral-infused and impressively linear finish that lasts in the mouth for several minutes. A stunner of wine that is still improving.
agavin: I was disappointed, nothing too obvious wrong with it, just too closed and reserved.
From my cellar: 1996 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. Burghound 96. Classic white burg aromas of immense breadwith and depth with white flower notes, minerals and knockout complexity. This is a big, rich yet delineated wine that has near perfect balance. In short, this is flat out superb with an intensity, complexity, depth and stony minerality that is something special to behold. The length lasts for minutes and for my taste, this has finally arrived at its full maturity though there is certainly no rush to drink up as it should maintain this level for years. Consistent notes.
agavin: sadly, and I cry as I write this, the wine was heavily premoxed (oxidized) and not really drinkable. The finish had promise. 🙁
Fresh white Asparagus and black truffle butter sauce. Just in season and fabulous.
From my cellar: 1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 93. A truly wonderful nose of simply knockout complexity features notes of yeast and baked bread along with now fully mature aromas of a variety of floral notes and spice hints that gives way to mineral-suffused round intense and detailed medium full flavors that also offer outstanding depth on the sappy and mouth coating finish. This is drinking perfectly now. A beautiful effort of real style and grace.
agavin: a third fail for me tonight. This bottle was pretty oxidized. I’ve opened around 20 of this wine (all from the same source) and about 2/3 of them are fabulous, but a few are kinda oxidized.
Black Stripped bass with a butter sauce and vegetable puree. Perfectly crispy.
1993 Domaine Leroy Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Narbantons. 93 points. Mme Bize-Leroy makes the best wines in the world. At least this was my hypotheses when we drank this wine. Domaine Leroy is superior to DRC and her wines are as a consequent also more expensive. When she dies, the prises will soar and eventually exede Henri Jayer’s. This Sauvigny is perfectly mature now, with smooth concentrated red fruits. My guess was an Echezeaux from the 90ies. More or less everything she does is of Grand Cru quality.
1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes. Burghound 90. The nose on the ’96 Clos des Ruchottes is stunningly elegant with really dazzling purity of fruit and leads to relatively supple though barely medium weight flavors underpinned by moderate structure and healthy acidity. As it usually is, this is quite earthy and I suspect it will come around over the mid-term as the tannins are completely ripe and integrated. I would give this 3 or 4 more years of cellar time and then probably drink up whether or not the tannins are fully resolved as the lack of full phenolic maturity suggests that the acidity may come to dominate the finish.
agavin: great, but retained a surprising amount of oak/spice.
Mary’s Organic Rotisserie Chicken. Red russian kale, roasted fingerling potatoes. The rotating spit was right in front of me and all night I watched a procession of these tasting fowl orbiting. Just classic roast chicken en jus but absolutely perfectly cooked. All good.
1988 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts. Burghound 92. Still quite reserved on the nose but the flavor profile is dense, rich and wonderfully complex with terrific length. As with the Boudots, the buffering extract is more than sufficient to envelope the substantial tannins though there is a touch of finishing astringency.
agavin: a lovely mature burg.
Liberty Duck Breast. Cherries and Brussels sprouts.
1970 Louis Latour Romanée St. Vivant Les Quatre Journaux. agavin 94. Stellar wine. All that I love in old Burgs. Lots of fruit, acidity and long berry finish.
A selection of cheeses. Always good with so much wine.
Pistachio and Strawberry ice cream. Refreshing.
Overall, Republique is a first rate place. It updates the classic French fare in a way that is contemporary without being ultra modern. And the whole everything here is so painfully (and I don’t mean in a bad way) contemporary. It just couldn’t be more “in” with the current dining trends. Not that I actually have a problem with that — in fact, my only problems with the restaurant was the volume (almost too loud for conversation) and a seeming total lack of large square or circular tables (I eat out in large groups and hate long skinny tables for more than 6). Most importantly, not only are these fresh takes on the classics, but the cooking is really on point. Even only being three months old this kitchen is executing very well.
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