2924 Walnut Grove Road
After a lovely bike ride through Overton Park, we decided to go out for dinner. Neither Warren or I could decide where to go, so we asked the kids what they wanted to eat. “Breakfast burrito,” said Satchel, age 6. “Scrambled eggs,” said Jiro, age 4. Getting breakfast foods at 5pm on a Sunday isn’t easy. I figured we’d end up at CK’s if I didn’t come up with a suitable alternative, so I consulted the little slip of paper I keep in my purse with restaurants scribbled on it.
“How about Republic Coffee?” I suggested. Warren didn’t seem too excited by this prospect, so I let him look at the menu I also happened to have in my purse. I remembered our last attempt to eat there on a Sunday, and decided to call and make sure that brunch was over and that they were indeed serving from the main menu. They were.
After perusing the menu, Warren was much more excited about going. We waited for the last of our Hanukah candles to burn out and then piled in the car. To expedite things, I read through the menu so that the kids could decide what they wanted. Satchel wanted eggs, cheese, and bacon but he couldn’t decide whether he wanted them on a croissant or a bagel. Since the bagel option was an “everything” bagel, I steered him towards the Che Che, which includes a croissant.
“What’s a croissant?” Satchel asked.
“The blanket part of a piggy blanket,” Warren explained.
“Oh, yum!” he said.
Jiro enthusiastically requested a Belgian waffle, and I was waffling between a McKnight (roasted turkey, cheddar, spring mix, herb aioli, strawberry reduction on ciabatta bread ) and a Daisy (smoked chicken salad with grapes and walnuts on a toasted croissant). Warren was seriously considering a Tommy Chong (smoked mushrooms, mozzarella, spinach, and red peppers on ciabatta bread).
Republic Coffee does actually have a kid’s menu, and I absolutely love it because it has two options: PB&J or a vegetable platter. The fact that one option is all vegetables totally overshadows the fact that there are only two options. But regardless, there’s not a chicken nugget, mini pizza, or hamburger in sight!
As we pulled into the fairly packed parking lot, I peeked inside the windows. It was darkly lit and there were several people quietly sipping coffee and interfacing with their laptops. I turned to the monkeys and started a very stern speech about being on their VERY VERY best behavior.
I was busy telling Warren that he better decide what he wants because we have to order at the counter when a lovely young waitress invited us to choose a table. We picked a booth up front, then quickly changed our minds and moved to a booth in the back of the restaurant. While we traversed the dining room, Warren admired the large coffee bar in the middle of the building and I tried to process the incredibly wide range of drink offerings listed on the drink menu handed to me by the lovely young waitress. (I hadn’t seen the drink menu on my last visit! So much for coming prepared!)
Satchel and Jiro were busy deciding between Izze Pomegranate, Izze Blackberry, and Martinelli’s apple juice while Warren and I took turns reading off names of coffee treats.
Butter Cup Espresso, White Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Truffle, Egg Nog Latte, Banana Nut Mocha,, Granola Bar Latte, Gunpowder Green Tea…the list was endless! The names of the adult drinks were much more interesting to the monkeys. “I want a Cinnamon Latte Frappe!” Jiro said as the waitress came over.
“No coffee for you,” I said while laughing.
“We could give him a decaf,” the lovely young waitress (who clearly has no kids) said.
Jiro’s ears perked up and he looked at me hopefully. “Uh, let’s stick with the Izze,” I said.
“Try the blackberry,” the waitress said. “If you don’t like it, I’ll pay for it,” she added.
He agreed, and Satchel ordered a pomegranate Izze. Warren ordered a regular latte (bor-ing!) and I ordered a $5.50, 20 ounce Banana Mocha Frappe.
While the waitress went to get our drink order filled, we looked back at the food menu, which now included a few new items. I decided to try the Maximus, which was a roast beef and horseradish sammy. Satchel was sticking with the Che Che. After careful consideration of the BBQ sandwich, Warren finalized his Tommy Chong decision. Jiro decided he wanted eggs with his waffles, so we switched him to the Nashville which included scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, cheesy grits, and a Belgian waffle.
“What side are you going to get?” Warren asked.
“Hmmm…maybe the carrot soufflé,” I said having tried it once with good results.
“Good,” he said. “I’m getting the Mac & Cheese, but I want some of that too.”
“But I might go for the soup,” I warned him.
The lovely young waitress returned with our drinks and set them on the table. The Izzes were pushed aside as the monkeys wrestled over who would get the first sip of my shake. Before I could even say, “Cut it out!” Satchel had eaten half of my whip cream dollop by ferociously stabbing at it with the straw.
As I started ordering the lovely young waitress said, “Oh we’re not doing breakfast anymore…”
I looked at her, probably not with my most pleasant expression, and said, “The menu says you serve breakfast all day…and I called ahead.”
She was mumbling something about “I don’t know if he prepped any breakfast” when she cut herself off and said, “Let me go check.” Thankfully when she returned she was all smiles and said breakfast was no problem. (She also told me that the soup was cheesy potato, which I can’t resist, so Warren would have to wait to try the carrot soufflé.)
The lovely young waitress asked Jiro if he liked his Blackberry Izze, but he just stared at her. When I ordered the Nashville for him, she said, “That’s a lot of food. I’ll give you a prize if you eat it all.” Then he smiled.
By now, my shake was in danger of becoming extinct, so I wrangled it away from the monkeys and declared it off limits. Warren’s latte, which came in a huge mug, was declared very good by him, but the monkeys weren’t impressed. They wanted my shake.
While we waited for the food, I conducted a little interview with the monkeys for my upcoming Commercial Appeal column. When they got bored with that, I let them color in my notebooks.
By the time our food arrived, the monkeys were starved and Warren & I were stuffed from our giant coffees! Satchel loved his sandwich and ate every bite of it. (Actually, that’s not true. It was so good, he actually offered all of us a bite because he wanted us to know just how good it was. A first!) Jiro’s waffle was enormous and perfectly crispy. It came accompanied with the most delicious syrup ever and some whipped cream. There was no way he was going to be able to eat that and his scrambled eggs, bacon, and grits!
My sandwich was very good, as was my cheesy soup, but I was stuffed! Warren didn’t let his liquid appetizer get in the way of his meal. He offered me a bite of his sandwich and a few bites of mac & cheese before polishing them off. I tried to get him to eat half of my sandwich, but he couldn’t. Everything was really tasty and we were all very pleased.
“Daddy picked a good restaurant,” Satchel said.
“Hey, I picked it!” I reminded him.
Then my budding food critic launched into his usual routine. “That was better than CK’s,” he said. “Well, maybe equally as good as CK’s. Want to hear my favorite restaurants? CK’s, Coffee Republic, and Danver’s. McDonald’s and Burger King are on the bottom of my list because they serve junk.”
“That’s very nice,” I said.
“McDonald’s and Burger King are fast food, right?’ he asked.
I nodded. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that technically Danver’s counts at fast food.)
“This is what they call ‘Slow Food,’” Warren said.
“Because they take their time and use good ingredients?” Satchel asked.
“That’s right,” I said (now beaming).
“I’m going to get a Che Che everytime we come here,” Satchel said. “It’s the best.”
Jiro, who was getting restless, said, “I hate this restaurant. They serve dumb food.” He had his feet on the back of the booth, his hands on the table, and was in position to start doing push ups when the lovely young waitress came back over.
“Are you a gymnast?” she asked sweetly.
He put his legs down and buried his face in my arm pit. Maybe this restaurant wasn’t so stupid after all.
We realized there were pool tables on the other side of the wall we were sitting by, made quick runs to the restrooms on our way out (very nice, no changing table though), and admired the recycling bins near the front door on our way out. With their commitment to slow food, recycling, and alternative energy sources (they plan to go solar), Republic Coffee is definitely a stand out in our community. My only complaint really is that they use Styrofoam to-go containers. (Project Green Fork could help them find better options!)