Eat This Now: French Toast at James Republic
French by way of Memphis.
James Republic is the kind of restaurant that can't sit still. It's a constantly moving target. The menu doesn't just revolve; it evolves. You go there, enjoy a dish and when you come back, it is entirely possible that dish is either gone or tweaked into something unrecognizable. I once had a perfectly cooked Pacific Walu there, raved about it to friends and when I brought them there to try it, it was replaced by another fish that wasn't quite as good. But then, the next week, they cooked something that was even better. James Republic makes my job as a reviewer both hard and easy. Hard because whatever I write can be rendered out-of-date by the time you read it. Easy because there's always something new to review. Like the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, it's never the same experience twice.
What I can say with certainty is that you will never be bored at James Republic. So this week I'm recommending the French toast it's currently offering on its brunch menu. It's got a peanut butter foam, bacon jam, and slices of banana, an homage to The King of Rock and Roll's favorite foodstuff--except it doesn't resemble any sandwich he or anybody ever ate.
The dish is composed of toast-like blocks, golden and crispy on all sides, as though it were deep-fried polenta cakes. It isn't unlike the French toast sticks you get at the drive-thru, except good. You eat it by dragging the pieces around in the peanut butter, slathering the creamy foam, the maple syrup, the bursts of smoky pork flavor that comes from the jam. It's all grounded by the banana, which is the only normal component that you'll recognize just by sight. Together it tastes slightly weird but delicious--a combination of flavors that only Elvis Presley and pregnant women could have dreamed of.
As with anything I review at James Republic, I cannot guarantee that it will be there when you go; but I can confirm that it's been a fixture of the brunch menu for at least two weeks now--an eternity for the restaurant's itinerant menu. So far, the French toast has not yet left the building.
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