Last night we went with friends to the Takoma Park, MD outpost known as Republic. Due to the noise in the main dining area, we nearly left. But I am so glad we stayed because once we were seated in the back room our amazement at the wonderful food began. Oysters from Ugly, MD and Old Black Salt, VA arrived and half were sweet and half were salty pleasing everyone at the table. Next were a variety of appetizers, sides, and entrees that the four of us shared. The standout for me was the smoked paprika cauliflower, though since everything was pretty much absolutely wonderful, it’s difficult to say what was best. The arugula salad featured roasted pumpkin seeds and bits of winter squash topped off with tangy white cheese resembling feta. The ample sides dishes included the forementioned fried cauliflower with the smoked papricka, lemon and a smidgen of parmesan that didn’t overwhelm it. The mushroom fondue was swimming in a shallow pool of marsala and tarragon and delightful. When I got to the quinoa risotto on a bed of carrot safron puree I was stunned by the various textures and tastes that filled every bite due to the addition of mascarpone, crimini mushrooms and pearl onions. The char cooked so that the skin was crispy and the fish tender sat on top of braised red cabbage with smoked bacon, fingerling potatos and a soubise that blended these various flaovers ina way that made me admire the chef who created it. Go to Republic – so worth the somewhat high prices.

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