Images above: Mustaq Tappewale & Kuldeep Mattegunta, co-founders of Republic; photograph Joanna Raikes
Republic – review
I rather think it might be. I went for the first time last week – Lord knows why I left it a whole year since they opened (for takeaway at least – they opened properly in May). What a wasted opportunity!
The restaurant, at 301-303 Chiswick High Rd, has just launched its winter menu. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Their menu takes you on a culinary tour of India but it also involves an element of Anglo-Indian fusion, because they use the best local seasonal ingredients and customise the recipes accordingly.
Images above: Mumbai toastie; Chilli & Lemon infusion
Take the Leek & Potato Cheese Chilli Mumbai Toastie, a hugely popular street food dish in Mustaq’s home town of Mumbai. Buy it from a street food seller in the sprawling capital of Maharashtra and you certainly wouldn’t find leeks in it. But it works.
New on the menu as a winter starter, it looks like an ordinary English toastie made with sliced white bread, but there is nothing ordinary about it. Mashed potato with spices and leeks, sandwiched between two slices of bread with chilli / garlic aioli on one side and coriander chutney on the other and mature cheddar cheese. Heavenly.
Mustaq is the Maître d’; Kuldeep is the head chef and Republic is their first restaurant together, though they worked together before at Kricket, a group of modern Indian fusion restaurants around the trendier parts of London. They were due to open in December 2020, two days before we went suddenly and unexpectedly into lockdown. Despite the inauspicious start they have built up a dedicated following in Chiswick for their fantastic food.
READ ALSO: Viva Republic – the restaurant opens in May
Images above: Crispy Chicken and Chips ’65; Mumbai toastie; Sweet Potato & Jersey Royal Chaat
Continuing the culinary journey around India, on the new winter menu also is Tellicherry Pepper Fry Squid, (Tellicherry pepper is considered one of the finest peppers in the world), Jaipuri Jackfruit Curry, Mangalorean Prawn Curry and Lassooni Seabass. You will also find Jersey Royal potatoes, Hereford beef, Berkshire pork chops and Welsh lamb in this fabulously original and inventive menu.
My companion had Sweet Potato & Jersey Royal Chaat, kale pakora and, pomegranate (v) as a starter, while I had the Crispy Chicken and Chips ’65. I had thought the tradition of asking for Indian and Chinese food by the number on the menu because we couldn’t be bothered to try and pronounce the name must have originated in the 1950s and ’60s, but I was wrong.
‘Crispy Chicken and Chips ’65’ dates back to the days of the Raj, when British soliders and civil servants stationed in India couldn’t be bothered either and the dish is still known all over India as ’65’: Tender chunks of succulent chicken fried in hot spices and served with wafer thin freshly made crisps.
The Sweet Potato & Jersey Royal Chaat was a explosion of flavours – tamarind chutney, mint and coriander chutney, sweet yogurt, sev (fried lentils) and crispy kale as well as the sweet potatoes and Jersey Royals. It’s hard to make kale taste interesting, but these crispy fried kale balls were delicious and the contrast in texures between them and the soft potatoes added interest to the dish.
We shared the Mumbai toastie. But I will never share one again.
Images above: Tandoori Duck Breast, chilli & peanut crumble, plums & jaggery caramel; Jackfruit curry
For our main courses the meat eater chose Tandoori Duck Breast, chilli & peanut crumble, plums & jaggery caramel; the vegetarian chose Jackfruit curry. Both dishes assaulted the palate with a variety of flavours.
The duck breast – their most popular dish – was marinated in tandoori spices, offset beautifully by the crunchy peanut crumble, the sweet sauce and the delicate watermelon radish.
The Jackfruit curry was tender and tasty. Jackfruit by itself doesn’t really taste of anything but with careful cooking it absorbes flavours. This had the texture of a long cooked chicken curry, tasting mild and creamy.
We also tried the Kulcha – bread with honey nuts and seeds, something like a Peshwari nan and the Corn Palak – a corn and spinach dish, by which time we really shouldn’t have eaten anything more, but in the interests of research, we had pudding.
I enjoyed the Baked Madras coffee and dark chocolate custard (quite bitter) and hazlenut ice cream (though I’m still not completely sure about mixing chocolate and coffee). My companion enjoyed the Burnt Khova cheese cake with blood orange. The desserts were every bit as surprising and interesting as the rest of the menu.
Images above: Baked Madras coffee and dark chocolate custard and hazlenut ice cream; Burnt Khova cheese cake with blood orange
Republic is open every lunchtime and evening, Monday – Saturday, with a different, lighter menu at lunchtime of smaller, simpler (and cheaper) dishes. The menu is very reasonably priced – the most expensive thing on the lunchtime menu being £9.00 (Traditional Butter Chicken with rice or bread) and the most expensive main course on the evening menu £18 (Seabass).
It gets quite booked up from 7.00pm onwards, but they do accept walk-ins when they can. They also offer a takeaway service.
We are delighted to say Republic are now members of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders a 10% discount when they book to eat between 5.00 and 6.30 pm.
Book to eat via their website:
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