Review of James Republic in Long Beach
James Republic generates a solid buzz
All the way in South Orange County, James Republic in Long beach has gained a solid word of mouth buzz for their Chef Driven menu. James Republic is one of the latest projects of restaurateur and Chef Dean James, DJM Restaurant Group. James Republic describes itself as “Modern California Coastal”, meaning they source local and seasonal ingredients from the land and sea.
The restaurant, like most progressive restaurants, is Chef Driven, farm-to-table and ever changing menu based on quality ingredients “of the moment.” In Long Beach, there are very few restaurants doing anything similar.
Location and Interior
James Republic is located at the Marriott Courtyard on 1st street in Long Beach. The hallway from the lobby to the restaurant is decorated with large prints that pay homage to the port of Long Beach’s maritime history.
The interior of the restaurant is rustic modern and accentuated with nautical artifacts. Although I have seen this design before, it felt fresh with James Republics open air dining room. With the door and shutter’s wide open to the street, it actually felt like I was eating at a restaurant in Hilo.
Cocktails at James Republic
The cocktails at James Republic are are all made with craft ingredients were very delicious. Below are a couple of the cocktails that I tried. If you like cocktails from the bourbon family, then the Whiskey Tea is a great option as it has the classic rye flavor. It has a summer balance with the lemon and bitter. The Gin Cocktail is light and refreshing, perfect for a summer evening. The cool cucumber flavor was more refreshing than spa water.
- Gin Cocktail-Gin, cucumber, rosemary, lime juice, tonic
- Whiskey Tea – Templeton Rye, agave, lemon, bitters
- Cara Cara Martini– Hangar 1 vodka, Cara Cara juice, mint, sugar
- Eve’s Lemonade- Hangar 1 vodka, St.Germaine, lavender infused syrup
Build Your Own Charcuterie Board
The build your own board lets you specifically pick items that suites your tastes. My tablemates and I each had the opportunity to pick our favorites and then enjoy together in an communal meal sharing. Sharing food helps build friendship bonds. I suggest you do the same with your main dishes as well.
We choose the Chicken Liver Mouse and salami, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Humbolt Fog. On the side we ordered honey comb. I really enjoyed the chicken liver mouse, it was creamy and went really nicely with the honeycomb and cowgirl creamery red hawk. On the downside, things can add up really quickly if you get get fancy, you fancy hah! The grilled bread that comes with the charcuterie is really good, although not quite enough is provided. We had to ask for two refills of the bread.
Charcuturie Board Choices and Prices
- Meat Choices ($6 each) Smoked Fish Dip, La Quercia Rossa Prosciutto, Chicken Liver Mousse, Chicken Mortadella, Salami Tartufo, Corned Beef, Country Pate
- Cheese ($5 each) Bellwether San Andreas, Bellweather Carmody, Humboldt Fog, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, House Ricotta, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Purple Haze, Redwood Hill Bucheret, Redwood Hill Terra
- Sweet Stuff ($2 each) strawberry chutney, apple butter, honey comb
Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad
If I ate no other dish than their Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad, I would have left happy. I admit that I am fickle like a spring lover when it comes to Brussel sprouts. I am always finding a new favorite, although my current Brussel Sprout crush goes to James Republic. Their Brussel sprouts are roasted with Benton Farms bacon and finished with wilted frisee. The Brussels sprouts are garnished with a slow egg. ($11)
The “60 minute egg” that barely holds a poached egg shape and viscously oozes when popped. The plate is exquisitely garnished with a sweety and tangy aioli sauce around the rim of bowl, barely covering the rim like a sexy draping of silk scarf over your lover. Just like sex, this dish is best enjoyed get messy. I recommend that you pop the egg open and let the yolk ooze out on the Brussels sprouts and then mix it all up together before your partake in this most carnal of dishes. If you smoke, feel free to take a puff after this dish.
House Blend Grass Fed Burger
Singular is the best way to describe this burger. James Republic nailed this burger by putting the focus on the beef. The ½ pound burger is cooked on two ¼ pound patties, presumably to control the final temperature and allow the stacking of ingredients between the patties. The supporting components of this burger is simple, are very simple, Fiscalini white cheddar, onion jam, “fancy sauce”, and a small amount of picked vegetables. The Burger comes alone, no fries, no sides. ($13) If you need a side, order it.
I really liked the bun, with is fluffy and topped with sesame and poppy seeds. What they did right was to ensure the bun is thin enough to allow the beef to take center stage in the flavor profile. When you take the first bite, you are actually tasting the natural grass fed beef flavor first and that flavor remains dominate as the yeasty bread comes in next, followed by the creamy cheese and sweet / acidic flavors from the accouterments.
Mary Farms Half Roasted Chicken
This is a very simple dish, that again allows the natural flavor of the protein to take center stage. Mary’s Chicken grown organically resulting in a cleaner flavor. The chicken is simply roasted with modest seasoning and served on creamy polenta. It is topped with braised mushrooms, spinach leaves and pan jus from the chicken. The meat was juicy, tender and full of natural flavors. ($19)
Brandt Farms Hanger Steak
The day I visited James Republic, I was intent on eating the Brandt Farms Rib Eye, but unfortunately they were out that night. Instead and offered instead a hanger steak ($28). The hanger steak was simply marinated and cooked over high-heat to lock in the juices to a perfect medium-rare. It was served sliced,against the grain to ensure tenderness, and drizzled with it’s own juices.
The dish is accompanied with braised greens and grilled asparagus. The dish is very simple, yet flavor dense meal. The beef was truly remarkable with lots of potential flavor energy locked into the muscle of the beef. The Hanger steak was served with a warm potato salad made with roasted baby gold potatoes, cream, scallions and grain mustard. This dish was extremely impressive and reminded me of the version I tried in Germany many years ago.
My Final Thoughts
Sometimes you find a restaurant that is truly remarkable and acts as a beacon for others to imitate, James Republic is that restaurant for Long Beach. I believe that Long Beach in the process of a culinary revival and restaurants like James Republic are at the vanguard of downtown revival. Tom’s Foodie Blog highly recommends James Republic.
James Republic Address and Hours
At the Courtyard Long Beach Downtown – 500 East 1st Street Long Beach, CA