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Republic Tavern, Parks & Rec Offer Tasteful Eclectic Fare in The District Detroit


At the turn of the twentieth century, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Building stood as a gathering place for Civil War Union Army veterans in Detroit. Today, the triangular hub bound by Grand River, West Adams and Cass avenues buzzes with patrons feasting on delectable fare at sister restaurants, Republic Tavern and Parks & Rec Diner.

The offices of Detroit-based production company, Mindfield, and an event space known as Castle Hall operate on the upper levels of the building, which is a National Register of Historic Places site. Republic opened in February 2015, while Parks & Rec, the breakfast and lunch spot with which it shares a kitchen, opened months later in August.

While not self-proclaimed “foodies,” Tom Carleton, a Mindfield partner and one of the restaurants’ three co-owners, said the creators wanted to create restaurants that would keep people returning for more and would allow Detroiters to enjoy the caliber of dining found in cities like NYC. Their success, along with additional developments like the new Beacon Park and the new Little Caesars Arena, keeps visitors attracted to the area.

At Republic, diners will find a full-service bar; comfortable, tavern-style seating; a casual atmosphere and a rotating menu that prominently features seasonal American cuisine.

Matt Currie, Executive Chef at Republic, said he likes to prepare foods that people don’t normally consume regularly by putting the ingredients in a more accessible format.

The result? Dishes like rabbit pot pie-style stew, and crowd favorite, duck liver mousse.

“Everyone loves it. It’s one of the most popular things on our menu,” Currie said of the mousse, which comes with jam, pickled mustard seed and candied nuts.

The restaurant prides itself on taking an ethical “nose-to-tail” approach to cooking, working with local farmers and becoming more vegetarian and vegan-friendly since its debut.

“At the end of the day, nothing is hitting the trash can,” Currie said. In addition to butchering—not slaughtering—whole pigs in house, Republic chefs pickle seasonal produce and create their own bone broth.

During its most recent Wine Dinner Series event, Currie served entrees boasting a range of fixings like herb jam, white root puree and sofrito aioli. Republic’s cocktails are equally inventive, Currie said, noting that his team works hard to serve amazing Happy Hour creations that change just as frequently as the food offerings.

OpenTable, the popular online restaurant reservation website, named Republic among “100 Hottest Restaurants in America” in 2015, making it only one of two Michigan establishments to make the exclusive list that year.

Boasting a menu overseen by Executive Chef Allie Lyttle, the neighboring Parks & Rec Diner includes sweet shares, poutine dishes, classic breakfast sides and sandwiches. Diners can build their own omelettes and potato hashes with a variety of add-ons including roasted garlic, house-smoked whitefish, lamb lardons and vegan feta.

Carleton said the intimate brunch spot’s name is a nod to the location’s past: the city of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department once operated at the G.A.R. before closing the building in the 1980s.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is one of the largest sports and entertainment developments in the country. Located in the heart of Detroit, this 50-block, mixed-use development led by the Ilitch organization unites eight world-class theaters, five neighborhoods and three professional sports venues in one vibrant, walkable destination for people who want to live, work and play in an exciting urban environment. Home to the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions - The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.