Best New Restaurant Orange County 2013 - James Republic
James Republic isn't perfect. But with every new day, it gets closer. As with any new restaurant opened in this century, the ingredients are seasonal and the menu non-permanent. One visit, the Pacific walu—a beautifully seared fish from Hawaii, with snow-white flesh as moist as the meat off a freshly steamed crab—can come with sharp goat cheese, sautéed broccolini and splotches of beet vinaigrette, but whether the sides or the fish will be around at all the next week is anyone's guess. Things are ever-changing, reinvention the only overarching theme. The staff count the days the eatery has been open on a chalkboard and on the menus, a reminder to all who work here that every evening is full of possibilities. Whatever you get—be it the Kurobota pork chop that eats like a steak, or mashed potatoes turned to froth in a jar, or a salad of grilled asparagus with crisply fried fingerling potatoes as croutons—James Republic will delight, frustrate and keep you coming back to see what's on the plate the following week and the week after that. . . .