The Place Located in Amoy Street taking over the space of the now-defunct Carne, I checked out California Republic some time back, the latest concept from The Dandy Collection. The group owns and operates other dining concepts like Fat Prince, Neon Pigeon and Firangi Superstar, where its latest concept focuses on So-Cal Italian, aka Southern California Italian cuisine.
The dining space is impressively done to exude a 1960’s retro-cool vibe, and it seems that The Dandy Collection does have a knack for nailing the interior design of its concepts, as with my previous visit to Firangi Superstar.
The 65-seater interior has four distinct rooms with a nostalgic living-room vibe, along with Vintage Hollywood posters on the walls, and eclectic upholstery to outfitted booths with retro cushions.
The Food The menu offers a Seafood & Oyster bar, Small Plates with large flavours and iconic Italian favourites with a So-Cal take. I started with the Grilled Oysters, Hog Island Chipotle Bourbon Butter (S$22). The fresh oysters are from the Pacific Northwest and are grilled with a Chipotle chilli, bourbon and garlic compound butter.
For small plates, I had the Faux Artichoke, Jackfruit Barigoule, Herb Aioli, Pangrattato (S$18) and the Meatballs Al Angeleno, Pork & Veal, Tomato, Parmigiano (S$28).
For the pastas which are handmade in-house, the Smoked Garganelli, Pork Ragu Bianco, Soffritto, Bone Marrow (S$34) is a rich, flavourful option if you fancy something heavier.
Otherwise, the Celery Root Cappellacci, Roasted Field Mushrooms, Parmigiano (S$29) is a relatively lighter alternative where the Cappellacci is stuffed with celery root puree and cooked in a sauce of roasted mushrooms. The pasta texture is great, and I definitely appreciate restaurants which make their own pasta in-house as the freshness of the pastas flavour is evident.
For main dish, the Lazy Man’s Cioppino (S$48) is good for sharing. This dish is a classic San-Francisco tomato-based seafood stew, where the shells of the seafood have been deshelled by the team, hence the lazy man connotation. Expect seafood items like Roasted Sea Bass, Clams, Mussels and Calamari in Tomato Broth, which is best enjoyed with the West Coast Garlic Mops (S$18), a cast iron garlic bread dish.
Served in a cast iron skillet direct from the oven, this bread dish is best enjoyed with the sauce from the seafoo stew. Available till sold out, note that a thirty-minute pre-order is required.
Side dishes to add on include the likes of Charred Broccolini with SoCal Chilli Oil, Pangrattato (S$14).
For cocktails, choose between full proof, half proof, or even zero proof if you are going off-alcohol.
Rants Hearty dishes though not much surprise in terms of presentation and flavours for me.
Will I Return Again? The flavours of the dishes here are quite homely style. Nothing too fancy, but based on the owners’ memories of growing up in California. The interior speaks character, so if you are looking for a cosy spot to hang out in the CBD for some comfort So-Cal dishes and drinks, this is one restaurant to check out.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
88 Amoy Street
Tel: +65 9784 9487
Wednesday to Sunday: 12pm to 3pm; 5.30pm to 12mn
Closed on Monday & Tuesday
Ranted by The Ranter