Along with the counterculture of the 1960s comes music, fashion, and decor. And that’s what The Dandy Collection’s latest baby, California Republic is all about. For optimal reading pleasure, ensure you have The Mamas & The Papas’ California Dreamin’ playing in the background.
If you’re a movie buff, the interior will immediately transport you to the set of Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. From woodie surf wagons to sunken living rooms to sputnik lamps to eclectic upholstery to outfitted booths with retro cushions, the restaurant encapsulates a pure mid-century modern interior— where pop culture and counterculture collides. Over at California Republic, expect to find a blend of two distinct cultures: Southern Californian (SoCal) and Italian.
Like all their other well-designed establishments, California Republic boasts four distinct “rooms” that scream retro, downed in a nostalgic living room vibe. Coupled with vintage Hollywood posters, the speakers also boom with the Generationals on a groovy playlist that recalls that quintessential Californian moment.
Starting with the classic So-Cal staple is the Grilled Oysters (S$22)— in Hog Island chipotle bourbon butter. Truly a nod to Californian cuisine, the oysters here are fresh and come loaded with an intense bourbon aftertaste, a perfect start to my dining experience.
On to the small plates, I had the Meatballs Al Angeleno (S$28) and Sweet Corn Arancini (S$24).
The Meatballs Al Angeleno, a quintessentially Italian-American dish, is essentially a pork and veal meatball, slathered in a special tomato sauce, and topped with heaps of Parmigiano (just the way I like it). The dish pays tribute to the restaurant menu consultant, Chef David Almany’s famed meatball recipe. Words cannot express the love I have for this decadent dish— it’s something you have to head down and try for yourself.
Pro-tip: Order up a side of West Coast Garlic Mops (S$18)— a cast iron garlic bread with oregano and grana that is baked upon order— and use the fluffy and garlicky bread to mop up the leftover tomato sauce. Order the garlic mops as soon as you enter as it takes 30 minutes for it to be baked to perfection.
The Sweet Corn Arancini is unlike anything I’ve seen (or tasted) before. Although it looks like a nightmare for people with trypophobia, it’s far from scary. The Italian dish is stuffed with risotto and coated with sweet corn, and comes with a side of black olive aioli. Normally not a fan of sweet corn, I can only trust folks from The Dandy Collection to whip out yet another banger to add to my ‘must-eat’ list— first being the Tawa Fried Brussel Sprouts with Garam Masala from Firangi Superstar.
Over to their handmade pasta: the Smoked Bucatini (S$34). An instant crowd favourite, the tube pasta dish looks and sounds oh-so-simple but is so complex. The flour is smoked before being rolled out, then tossed in a revised pork ragu in Bianco— a white meat sauce sans tomato— with classic Soffritto— which consists of the holy trinity of aromatic ingredients: onions, carrots, and celery. Adding on to the robust flavours is a touch of bone marrow, and the pasta is finished with Parmigiano shavings.
The dish was surprisingly light and easy to eat; each bite felt like a party in my mouth. Personally, it’s a dish I can see myself coming back for.
Lastly, the Pork Milanese (S$42)— a premium pork ribeye served with confit vine tomato, semi-roasted tomatoes, and green olive celery salad. I was told this dish is the chef’s favourite, and I can see why. The breaded pork wasn’t dry and gamey, was well-cooked, and oozed perfection with every bite.
End the SoCal-Italian feast with the Espresso Budino (S$16)— a take on affogato. Personally, I’m not a fan of coffee however, this dessert did exude nostalgic flavours, a cross between the classic Kopiko candy and Werther’s Original‘s creamy, caramel-filled candy. The bittersweet dessert also comes with a side of addictive homemade biscotti. Definitely a dessert not to be missed!
For those who’d like to imbibe a little along with your food, check out their range of specially-curated cocktails (that are also named after popular hits of the ’60s)!
I’ve never been to a place I resonated so much with until I visited California Republic— a restaurant that will titillate your senses, activate your neurons, and blow your mind altogether.
Till my next visit, I’ll end this piece with Phantom Planet’s California!
Other articles you might like:
13 must-try stalls at Upper Boon Keng Market & Food Centre
PaoFan Paradise 泡饭天, Jalan Besar: Enjoy their signature and unique pao fan hotpot from S$12
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
88 Amoy Street , Singapore 069907
88 Amoy Street , Singapore 069907