Republic is a coffee bar that also serves up Lebanese food like mana’eesh, brunch and traditional baked goods.
The quiet cafe hidden away on Nelson Street in the Entertainment District is the brainchild of George Tohme and Carmela Akiki. Many of the mana’eesh on the menu are named after George’s five sisters and their other female relatives.
Though it’s a shallow space, as soon as you enter there’s a calming vibe, outfitted in blue and purple tones.
You’re immediately confronted with the coffee bar and cash as well as a pastry case boasting Lebanese baked goods, making it a super fast grab and go option in this busy neighbourhood.
Rania is the name of a three-cheese and zaa’tar mana’eesh ($8), and Tohme's daughter. It’s pricey for a small snack though it comes with a clean, lightly dressed salad of cucumber and tomato, but the dough is airy and impeccably furled, and the combination of cheese and dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame makes this comforting yet complex.
The hen’s nest ($8.50) is only available until 11:30 a.m. during the week, but all day Saturday and Sunday. The same fluffy, chewy house dough is topped with a perfectly runny egg, a mound of cheese and arugula along with some spices, and the crust perfectly soaks up the yolk, kind of like an elevated breakfast pizza.
A dine-in only mez’ah option of three dips ($8.50) includes hummus, baba ghanouj, and labneh, served with olives and flatbread.
Baked goods made using fine-tuned family recipes include baklava filled with cashews or walnuts ($3), rice pudding topped with pistachio ($3.50), round shortbread ghrey’beh with cardamom and pistachio ($2.50), date fingers ($2.50) and a chocolate “sausage” ($3.50) that’s sliced off a cylinder of compacted chocolate, walnut, raisins and biscuit.
Nam’moura semolina cake ($2.50) made with rosewater and topped with almonds is a traditional, sweeter dessert.
Lebanese coffee ($3.50) is prepared traditionally in a copper pot, brought to a boil and let rest for a bit, which takes extra time. Their beans were curated by Barocco to be ideal medium roasts for Lebanese coffee, espresso, latte and cappuccino.
The rooster’s call ($4.75 - $5.25) is simply a latte made with Lebanese coffee, but this gives the latte a much richer, more complex, almost chai-like taste.
Bar seating faces tall windows, and more seating with tables rests off to the side where there’s a patterned wall with a bohemian feel.
Ovens cranking out flatbreads and the putter of Lebanese coffee making mean this little coffee shop is often buzzing with delightful activity.