Kitchen Republic Review

To the naked foodie’s eye, the Bella Terra Shopping Mall in Huntington Beach, CA is a sea of casual dining chain restaurants that offer decent to good standard meals but not much in the way of originality. If you sail through this island of entertainment a little more carefully, however, you will happen across a new gem of a restaurant that satisfies the craving for a unique dining and tasting experience amongst the flavors of the chain establishments: Kitchen Republic. Located across from the ever popular Cheesecake Factory and next to the polarizing Buffalo Wild Wings, the fairly new Kitchen Republic offers a space that is hip, cool, authentic, and welcoming with drinks and dishes from a tapas style menu to match.

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I drive past Kitchen Republic every day on my way to work and had been meaning to set foot inside and raise a fork, but just hadn’t had the chance to do so. This past week, however, at work we had agency partners in from out of town for long days of meetings. After our first eight hour meeting day, we all decided to go out for a nice meal together to celebrate all the great work we had accomplished; and this led us to Kitchen Republic.

Not well known yet, there was no wait and we were promptly seated at a very cool long high top table that was half inside half outside. The entire restaurant with textured woods, industrial lighting, and earthy tones gives us a very rustic and casual vibe while also feeling craft. The patio is extensive and on a sunny southern California evening, it is the perfect space to enjoy a meal.

Despite only having a few staff members present, the servers were incredibly attentive, friendly, and informative, they definitely give off the sense that they are happy to serve you which is always a pleasant thing when dining out.

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My perfect Moscow Mule!

Kitchen Republic offers several craft beers on tap, a nice wine list, and a menu of signature cocktails. And after a long day of meetings, libations were definitely in order! I had my go-to; the Moscow Mule, which was simply perfect – bright and gingery. Some other cocktails that were had by the group included the Spiked Lemonade – refreshing and sweet, the Habanero Margarita – perfectly balanced between sweetness and spice, and the Classic Old Fashion – bold and smooth as it should be.

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The Tapas Style Menu is divided up into Earth, Land, Sea, and Pasta and Soup. Make sure to order from each!

Now to the best part – FOOD! As mentioned above Kitchen Republic boasts a Tapas Style Menu. For those of you that don’t know, Tapas is a style of eating from Spain in which parties order multiple small plates and share the food, enjoying a few bites of each dish to create a meal with many different tastes. I personally love tapas dining because of the fact that you can enjoy so many different dishes at once. With seven of us at Kitchen Republic that night, we all basically ordered one item each and passed them around for everyone to try and enjoy! Since there were so many dishes, I will try and keep my description of each short and simple so that you can more quickly make yourself salivate and head over to Kitchen Republic to try!

Here’s what we had – (Disclaimer: Not photos for everything and some photos of food already being eaten….we were hungry AF so I didn’t get all perfect photos!)

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts – served with sweet sausage slices, these were crunchy and earthy; the Brussels roasted perfectly to bring out there amazing natural flavors. I am a Brussels Sprouts nut, so I definitely picked at this throughout the entire meal!

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Sweet Potato Fries – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, the natural sweetness balanced out by sea salt and taken to another level of decadence they were all drizzled in a rich and smooth buttercream. Can’t say no to that!

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Truffle Fries – Yes, we had two types of fries. These, in my opinion, were the winner as far as the fries went. Salty and crispy with that distinct flavor of pungent truffle accompanied by garlic, parsley, and mozzarella. I’d eat five servings of these.

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Sautéed Mushrooms – mushrooms sautéed in butter and garlic, incredibly tender, almost meaty, and bursting with earthy and buttery flavor. This is perfect for the true mushroom lover at heart.

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Bacon Wrapped Dates – sweet dates wrapped in salty bacon and filled with tangy cream cheese and crunchy slices of almonds. OMG. You can put one of these away in a bite, and you should savor that bite. The perfect marriage of flavors and textures happens here.

Short Rib Poutine – tender braised short rib meat over fries (yes more fries) with a rich gravy, sweet grilled onions, and melty cheese curds. The best fancy fry based dish I have ever had. I can’t say no to short ribs, and neither should you with this dish. – No picture 😦

Slow Cooked Spicy Beef Curry – a very unique dish with a definite Eastern feel; fork tender slices of beef in a medium spicy curry broth with white rice. Greatly developed flavors for the lover of the exotic. – No picture 😦

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Braised Pork Belly – tender pork belly with a surprisingly sweet flavor profile. I was pleasantly surprised by the ginger-cinnamon taste of this dish against the meaty, saltiness of the pork. Incredibly unique and very good. Another exotic favorite.

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Calamari – fried to crispy tender perfection and topped with a Cajun aioli that provides a perfect spicy kick.

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Jumbo Prawns with Garlic Noodles – fantastically garlicy pasta noodles served with juicy prawns with a bit of a kick from red pepper.

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Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese – the real winner out of everything that we had. A decadent take on Mac ‘n’ Cheese; elbow pasta coated with multiple creamy cheeses, a lobster-cognac sauce, plump chunks of lobster claw and tail, all topped with a herb bread crumb crust. I would honestly orderly this as my own meal with a small salad and call it a perfect dinner. This Mac ‘n’ Cheese is an absolute and undeniable must!

The artfully arranged plates and bowls topped and filled with these superbly prepared dishes were passed around between our group of seven until all the food was decimated. As I find with most tapas restaurants, the act of sharing the various types of food was a fun experience as everyone tried the food, talked about what they liked, and moved onto the next. This makes Kitchen Republic the perfect restaurant for dining out with a  group of friends who enjoy branching out and trying all the foods!

Kitchen Republic really does offer a lot to Bella Terra and the greater Huntington Beach area. It does tapas style eating right; serving great food to share in a fun a communal environment. It pours libations with care. And for the great food, beverages, and atmosphere, the price is right with most dishes staying between $8-$15 for a pretty generous serving as far as tapas go.

I really enjoyed my time at Kitchen Republic as a unique and tasteful dining experience. As of now, they are rarely ever busy, and I hope that changes for their sake. This is a restaurant concept that deserves to survive and thrive. The next time you’re headed to Bella Terra for shopping or a movie, make your lunch or dinner at Kitchen Republic and be wowed!

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