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Feb 10, 2010 02:53 PM

Republic Cafe--Gastropubbing comes to Manchvegas!

A great new addition to downtown Manchester--If we had a Left Bank, this place would be our Cafe de Flore. Is the reference too obscure? Here's the link: It's a beautiful, lofty space, open from 7am to 10pm, right on Elm Street. You can drop in for a morning coffee and read a newspaper with a pastry, grab a quick lunch, have a glass of wine or afternoon tea, or go for a really tasty dinner, which is what we did last night. My falafel-crusted cod with frites was outstanding, as were the mushroom bolognese over polenta, and the kefta--spiced lamb with a yogurt sauce. Dessert were little greek beignets with honey and pistachios, light as air. The bartender is Sean, who made a killer Manhattan. He is passionate about his mixology. I really hope this place catches on; they may have to add a burger and a steak to lure in more cautious i.e. NH eaters. (Our dining companion was conflicted about her risotto, something that's not on the menu at her usual haunt, the Puritan Back Room.)

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  1. I agree with whs' comments about the Republic Cafe. I had the monkfish puttanesca, which was excellent (I'm allergic to shellfish so I love monkfish). The frites were delicious and fried with capers.

    What whs did not mention was the wonderful atmosphere, which to me was evocative of a certain time in downtown Manhattan circa 1980 - an old building with tall ceilings, the beams showing, graffiti art on the walls with the Clash's 'Spanish Bombs,' my favorite song from the album London Calling, playing in the background.

    Are there any other restaurants in New England where you can listen to the Clash, eat sublime food, and have excellent drinks?

    I hope to return this weekend.

    1. Went for dinner a few weeks back....Happy to find that they had Duvel, with the proper glassware to serve it in! Wife and I both ordered the Gulf Shrimp Risotto. Not all. The Shrimp were fantastic, but the risotto was runny and bland. I recommend that if they dont want to put salt on the table, please season the food before it comes to the table. The beignets were excellent though, served with plain greek yogurt. I think there is alot of upside to this restaurant...they intend to use sustainable and local, which is a good start. They can hopefully bring some new flair to the area. For what it's worth, the chef used to work @ Blue Ginger.
      One more thing...our service was sort of many people not really accomplishing a whole lot....I chalk that up to growing pains though. Good Luck Republic

      2 Replies
      1. re: purchaser1

        What's the rest of their beer list like? I would assume they have a good selection, but I could not find any information on their site.

        1. re: solargarlic

          Beers on tap are limited at the Republic. In a recent visit the Smuttynose IPA was fresh, but not outstanding. The wine list is long and varied, with a "taste" at 4:50 for many of the wines. Service was excellent. Escarole salad with poached egg was outstanding. Bread and olive oil also. Appetizer of Italian "Gigante" beans and tomato was as good as such a simple dish could be. Baccala croquettes were OK, but I did not find as much of the rich taste as I expected. Maybe the salt cod had been oversoaked. My wife's chicken confit was a bit on the dry side. On the whole, a good dining experience in a nice space.

      2. I will try the Repulic soon, but what is with Manchester's love affair with the Back Room???

        6 Replies
          1. re: gryphonskeeper

            Backroom just voted top restaurant in HippoPress Top Picks. sigh

            1. re: whs

              It's rigged, that's why. I could get all my friends to vote our business as #1 too, I just don't believe in that sort of thing. I'm sure there are some valid voters who actually enjoy those surveys and vote honestly - I do when I play. BUT I know businesses that send me an email and say "vote for us" when I don't even know the area. I don't, I'm a honest abe but I know there are many that do. Too bad, I think it would be much more fair if they had a panel of judges that went around to those businesses, disguised as your average customer. I know I'd win then.

              1. re: lexpatti

                I know lex, the same winners every year.... give me a break. The Red Arrow does NOT have the best coffee in town! Nor is it the best cheap eats. I agree on the anonymous panel idea.

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                  Totally agree on the "same winners every year!" BORING! How about passing the torch to someplace new for a change. Red Arrow coffee is weak and flavorless! The backroom is a good standby, but not at all what I would call a "top restaurant"!

          2. re: ChardonnayQueen

            You know, I think a lot of it is that most people in Manchester--especially the older folks-- like safe comfort food, and their families have been going there for generations. The food may not be exciting, but it doesn't suck and it's "dependable". It was the one place I knew I could take my parents and not have to worry. They'd have their chicken tenders and Greek salad and be very happy! Looking forward to Republic when we are back in the area.

          3. Steak frites is on the menu, locally raised, very flavorful. Ask for aioli for frites dipping.

            1. Just went to Republic Cafe last night, based on the reviews here. It is tough to find restaurants that serve local food, so I was happy to hear about this place. We started with the arancini and then had the steak and frites and smokehouse ham panini. Frites are hand cut and delicious. We thought everything was very good. Service was quick and attentive. Will definitely be back.