Barely a year ago, Quang An, a once quaint offshoot of Xuan Dieu, had only a handful of food and beverage offerings.
And then, almost overnight, the once inconspicuous townhouses and not-so-successful restaurants between The Warehouse and Don’s Bistro disappeared, replaced by a bustling strip of gastro pubs and ethnic eateries.
Housed in a grand white villa, The Republic, headed by a former member Al Fresco’s management team, Chris Vella, has arguably led the revival of the Quang An strip. In the process, it has become one of West Lake’s most popular venues.
It’s easy to see why.
The venue is spaciously divided between a sports bar on the ground floor and upper levels that offer the choice between indoor and outdoor terrace seating, with more padded wicker chairs than you can throw a steak knife at.
Then there’s the restaurant part. The leather-bound menus are crammed full of comfort food, ranging from the gluten-free — tzatziki and roasted red pepper hummus (VND210,000) — to the mouthwatering, including the Wagyu beef and blue cheese burger (VND250,000) that made our very own Best Burgers list earlier this year.
But The Republic’s appeal is not just about pretty aesthetics or having enough soul food to fill a New Orleans diner. What many venues overlook or struggle to create, it has effortlessly engineered: a hip and — most importantly — fun vibe that makes it a compelling choice for diners.
On weekend afternoons, the terrace throbs with young families, groups clinking wine glasses and dusty-looking hangover types, all tucking into hearty fare served on the restaurant’s trademark butcher’s blocks, and bobbing their heads to an endearing mix of tunes echoing from supersized speakers.
As the old adage says: you get what you pay for, and although The Republic’s prices place it at the higher end of the dining spectrum, the restaurant’s flair for consistently good food and western-style customer service delivers value, evident during one of its consistently busy lunchtime or weekend brunch slots.
A Spicy Start
When we visited, we opted to start with the tequila lime chicken wings (VND180,000), which came perfectly baked on a rustic butcher’s block and served with a decadent sweet garlic sour cream. Each bite gave a pleasant kick of lime and chilli, and hints of tequila that had infused with the chicken nicely in the oven.
The lamb cutlets (VND360,000) served on a piping hot plate with three decently-sized cutlets, came beautifully presented on top of chunky pieces of homemade sage gnocchi and a bed of French peas, soaking in a nice rich mote of minted jus.
While the jus lacked just a tad of seasoning, the lamb was succulent and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Forgoing cutlery, we ate the cutlets straight from our hands, pausing in between bites to soak the lamb in its glorious juices ripping it fresh off the bone.
Sweet, Sweet Success
To finish, we tucked into a massive mug of decadently rich mocha mousse served with a coffee and almond biscotti (VND130,000). But while the mousse was whipped to the right consistency, by the fourth spoonful the rich flavours had become a tad overwhelming, perhaps making it a good choice for those with a strong sweet tooth.
Overall, whether it’s for a sleepy Sunday brunch or a group dinner overlooking the lake, The Republic’s versatile menu, great setting and top-notch service make it a compelling choice for those looking for a new place to call a home away from home.
The Republic is located at 7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi or online at republic.vn
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.
13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 — 12.5 very good to excellent
8 — 9.5 good to very good
5 — 7.5 fair to good
0 — 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals