Texas Republic, 945 Foch St, FW. 817-887-9797. 11am-2am Sun, 3pm-2am Mon-Fri, 11am-2am Sat.
There is a lot going on at Texas Republic –– a lot, in fact, that’s outside the purview of a restaurant review, as the would-be hot spot on Foch Street succeeds in being a lot of things to a lot of people. Whether it’s the 168-square-foot LED display, the AstroTurfed indoor-outdoor patio, or the eyebrow-raising dress code (enforced after 9pm; leave your Air Jordans at home, please), the place tries to have something for everyone –– whether you want it or not.
The engine behind this over-the-top operation is a bottle service so decadent and depraved that it’s hard to imagine that it’s anything but a good time. From the priced-to-wear “Girls Gone Wild” package (10 bottles of house champagne for $600) to the “Showstopper” ($2,000 gets your name in lights along with an assortment of champagne, tequila, and vodka), there’s no shortage of fun ways to max out Dad’s credit card.
Unfortunately for restaurant critics, such hedonistic indulgences aren’t covered by our union or by our expense accounts, and we’re left the rather pedestrian task of reviewing the food. Texas Republic doesn’t do anything small, and the kitchen offers an ambitious menu of upscale bar fare designed by local chef Clint Connaway. Heavy on appetizers and “hand-helds” (the term of art, apparently, for burgers, sandwiches, and burritos), the menu also features pizzas, salads, and street tacos.
If the place were actually a strip club instead of just feeling like one, greasy, crumbly finger-foods like “trash can” nachos and waffle cone chicken tenders might present a logistical challenge. As it is, though, most of the offerings at least seem like they ought to be fun, fitting in well with the Texas-themed rumpus-room motif.
My guest and I visited early on a weekday evening and were seated at a booth next to the enormous LED display, twice the size of God, broadcasting nothing in particular while demanding more attention than it deserved. It’s probably a great place to watch sports if you’re into that, but it made for uneasy dining. Service was prompt and courteous though with a disinterested affect that seemed designed to goad patrons into being more fun.
An appetizer of avocado toast promised bacon, arugula, and cherry tomatoes. What arrived at the table was all that and more: a generous portion of flatbread crowned with the advertised ingredients but also blue, parmesan, and cheddar cheeses under a glaze of truffle oil. While some might consider the additions to be an upgrade, the pungent flavors overwhelmed the excellent avocados and tomatoes. The simplicity of the dish as described in the menu would have been more successful.
That wasn’t the only disconnect between a menu description and the received item, as we discovered when a mushroom and goat cheese pizza arrived. Though the crust was excellent –– toasty on the outside, chewy on the inside –– the pie was sauced with a gummy Alfredo sauce that was neither expected nor welcomed. It certainly wasn’t listed as an ingredient, leading us to wonder if the kitchen manager had called in sick. A bit of marinara, or even no sauce at all, and the mushrooms, goat cheese, and arugula would have paired perfectly with the crackling crust.
I don’t know why my guest ordered something called the Heart Attack Burrito, but since the dish arrived exactly as advertised –– a mass of smoked brisket, pulled pork, jalapeño sausage, borracho beans, and cheese crammed into a tortilla –– I know the kitchen doesn’t deserve all the blame. Still, it was hard to see the appeal. Whatever virtues the individual components might have had were lost in their amalgamation. The burrito itself was perched atop an odd pile of mixed waffle-cut, sweet potato, and French fries that seemed to have been fried together, since the larger waffle fries were undercooked.
Fortunately, the bar made a pretty good Old Fashioned to smooth over any hard feelings, which is good news for anyone who doesn’t need an entire bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
Texas Republic’s fare has the potential to be the kind of naughty fun that would match the rest of the entertainment on offer, but there seems to be a few loose bolts in the kitchen holding it back. In the meantime, the place has its own kind of loud charm.
Avocado toast $7.95
“Heart Attack” Burrito $11.95
Mushroom goat cheese pizza $10.95