Friday, March 8, 2013

Republica St Kilda Beach

There are some places I find hard to make up my mind about as there are so many factors into what makes a restaurant good. Atmosphere, service and of course the food all weigh pretty heavily, but for me, there's always the question of "Did I have fun?". Sure, that's not the most precise and critical factor in a review, but it's still a pretty important one for me.

Republica St Kilda Beach
That's why I'm confused about Republica - I'm not sure if I had fun here. Sure the views were good, the service was fine and the atmosphere was decent, the food was mostly good, but I came out feeling like I could have had a lot more fun here.
Republica St Kilda Beach
Sitting on one of those chairs with a glass of red wine in hand would have been fun I'm guessing. I'm getting sidetracked though, you're here for a review of the restaurant, not my musings as such. The rest of my 6-person party were running late, but I was content to sit with a glass of juice and watch as service started up. 

Republica St Kilda Beach
It wasn't too long before people started showing up to enjoy the beautiful setting sun, or the company of their dinner companions as it would seem. The menu is nice and short, with a entrees to suit most tastes, mains covering major meat dishes with a few vegetarian ones, simple pizzas and a few easy to make desserts. We wanted to try a bit of everything though, and so ordered entrees and desserts to share, as well as our own mains. 

Kicking off the party though were 10 freshly chucked oysters. These were pretty good, and definitely good value at a specials price of $2 each. To me though, these were the highlight of the meal but I'm well aware not everyone enjoys the taste or texture of oysters.

We also ordered a $25 seafood tasting plate to share that featured 3 dishes of the chef's selection. 
Seafood Tasting Plate
The scallops were wonderful, and the serving size was fairly generous with enough for each of us. The tuna tartare and the crab cakes were uninspiring though being bland in flavour and texture. By now, the restaurant had filled up and conversation became difficult in the open dining room.

The mains arrived quickly enough much to our delight. When I went to post the following photo up, I had trouble figuring out what had been ordered. Fish?
Grilled Pork Chop with Caramelised Peachs, Fennel and Puffed Crackle
Well, no. After trying to restart my brain, I figured out it was the pork dish: a grilled pork chop, caramelised peaches, fennel and puffed crackle. The first thing noted when the dish arrived was the serving size - they were definitely generous here. The pork chop was tender but perhaps needed a bit more flavour. An accompanying sauce would have enlivened the dish and I personally would have preferred apple over peach (boring I know).

If we thought the pork chop was large, the chicken maryland was huge. It's a function of economics I realise, but they certainly want to feed people at Republica. 

BBQ Chicken Leg with Creamed Potato, Kale and Salsa Rossa
BBQ chicken leg, creamed potato, kale and salsa rossa - a combination that can't go wrong so needless to say this dish was pretty good. Filling too. 

I ordered the barramundi on the menu but how could I not seeing as fish or steak are usually my picks. It didn't feel like a steak night. 

Roasted Barramundi with Salt Cod Croquette, Piperade and Asparagus
I guess I'm fickle like that. I was fairly happy with my choice - the barramundi was tender and fresh, the asparagus was deliciously crisp, although the croquette was slightly odd in taste. 

Nowhere near as odd in taste as the risotto though.

Risotto of Wagyu Beef Shin, Hazelnuts and Orange
I've had plenty of risottos in my time and this has to have been the worst. There was a distressingly meager amount of beef, and the orange syrup added imparted a sickly taste and feel to the dish. A disaster in my opinion, and everyone else who tried the dish. 

The desserts that were plated were fairly attractive, but I'd lost my appetite by then (blame the risotto).

Rhubarb and Strawberry Brulee with Jam Doughnuts
Chocolate Walnut Brownie with Orange Ice Cream
Salted Caramel Parfait with Chocolate Ice Cream
Pre-made and mass produced, I like a little more effort to go into my desserts. Not that these weren't passable, but I just wanted more "fun" in the desserts. I'm probably asking too much. 

Perhaps one poor dish really can spoil and experience even though the rest of the food at Republica was generally good. The service was friendly and efficient, the views are spectacular, and the price is reasonable enough, but overall, I felt like it could have been better. Maybe I'll just stay away from ordering the risotto and I'll come out happy.

Republica St Kilda Beach
St Kilda Sea Baths, 10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
Mon-Fri 1130am-10pm, Sat-Sun 9am-11pm

Republica St Kilda Beach on Urbanspoon