When something opens in your neighborhood you get a little sense of pride that a destination others are dying to visit is a quick walk up the street for you. When the doors of the old Charlie Chaplin building opened to reveal the French bistro turned Gothic castle known as Republique I had the feeling that a Los Angeles hot spot was in my own backyard. I am by no means the first to write about this amazing spot, after all it has been photographed nearly as much as the macaron case at Bottega Louie, but I was able to enjoy its first week as a restaurant since the opening fell on my birthday. I always like to pick a nice place to get dinner to celebrate that yearly event, a place where my husband and I can get dressed up, drink champagne, and ultimately end the meal with something sweet. That night I forced us to take an Uber the few blocks up the street to Republique because I had to wear heels and something party worthy. Pulling up to the restaurant revealed large windows framing the facade of the building which gave a clear view into the main dining room dimly lit and glowing with candles. Everyone inside seemed to be part of a little club that had been counting down the days to Republique’s opening, much like I had been, and the joyful sentiments of the diners led to conversations among tables asking what they ate, what was good, and what you just can’t turn down. The bar was packed and the dining room was full, even the long communal table set under a castle-like stone skylight was occupied. The meal was rustic and french, nothing too over the top, but rather country-style plates like chicken for two and bright pink flank steak sliced for sharing. A slab of wood held two seasonal tarts and our choice came accompanied with a single birthday candle that had to be purchased that morning by the manager since a birthday had yet to be celebrated in the new space. The wait for the restaurant was over and my husband and I couldn’t be happier to experience dining at the long awaited Mid-City destination.
Republique has since added a morning bakery and breakfast menu as well as opened their back dining room, which is a touch more formal. For how popular and talked about this restaurant has become there are still times to visit when you feel just like a local in your go-to neighborhood joint. The mornings are casual and you often find people sitting wherever they please, newspapers piled on the large wooden barrels at the entrance, and patrons snacking on cappuccinos and warm baguette with jam while chefs push out trays of fresh biscuits. The bar at their evening opening is quiet allowing bartenders to share their new concoctions before the rush of the dinner hour begins. I know that sense of ownership is going to fade as more people catch on to this gem in the middle of the city, but I’ll still get a little satisfaction walking up the street to get a little taste of France, then wandering back home without any car or valet involved.