All of this chatter about the Voodka guys opening Grill Republic reminded me that I hadn't been to the Pirate Republic in awhile, and the weather really has been perfect for outside, waterfront dining. With the boat show in town there was no way I was going anywhere near the beach.
One thing that's changed is that they now have a parking lot; they've fenced in a part of the parking lot just for the restaurant and the marina next door.
Pirate Republic Parking Lot
There was really no problem parking here during the day, but I suppose the private lot with security cameras is useful at night. The entrance is the same;
Pirate Republic Entrance
The first thing you see upon entry is the pool, an odd foyer to a restaurant. I've never seen a person in this area; I suppose when the place morphs into a club it becomes more useful.
Pirate Republic Pool
I'm not sure what circumstances would be required to get me into that pool, but it would take a lot. A "host" was at the stand. "Something with a view", I said. He led me through an empty restaurant and I pointed at the dock. I'd never sat there, and with no wind and 80 degrees it was the perfect day for it.
Pirate Republic View from Dock
I started to go through the menu and didn't find a lunch menu, which they've been touting on their Facebook page. "Is there a lunch menu?", I asked my server. "Oh yeah, I'll get it for you".
Everything on the dinner menu is Las Olas expensive; $29 for a seafood bowl and $11 for a wedge salad. The lunch menu is more reasonable. I ordered a Seltzer, which I later learned was $3.
Pirate Republic $3 soda
Just before my food was served the serenity of the experience was broken as something banged into the dock. I turned to see a guy trying to guide a boat to the dock. Several more bumps and they made it in. Why do so many assholes own boats? These guys were loud, arrogant and their boat was cranking disco tunes; yes real disco from the 70's. One of the negatives of waterfront dining is the boat guys.
Finally my Cioppino was served.
Pirate Republic Cioppino
It looked like a decent portion for $15.99. Bad bread; I hoped that there was an oyster fork in the 2nd rollup, but no such luck; there was just a spoon. I started to eat with the big fork, but it's hard to eat a clam with a big fork. My server was nowhere to be found, so I asked another server to ask her to get me one.
As I ate I soon realized that I had no dish for discarding the shells. For a place that features seafood bowls you'd think that they were opened a few weeks rather than 4 years, because they sure didn't have it down yet. My server asked if I needed anything, not noticing the empty glass. I had to point for the second time this week.
The seafood wasn't bad; some of it was overdone but generally it was ok. The broth was surprisingly bland; tasteless, so much so that there was no point dipping the bread into it. It was better than what I've had here before.
Pirate Republic Cioppino
Meanwhile a group of four sat at the table in front of me. After asking the waiter some questions about the portions and prices, he went and got them some lunch menus. Apparently it's the policy of the restaurant to not give you a lunch menu unless you ask for it. One guy wanted a cheeseburger with bacon, but the server told him he'd have to order from the dinner menu if we wanted bacon. Meanwhile one of the girls ordered a cobb salad with no bacon. They should have negotiated a trade.
When I got the check, I noticed that the "suggested tip" was based on the after tax price; am I supposed to tip 20% on the tax also? More bad restaurant policies.
Jungle Queen from Pirate Republic
The big problem with this place is that they're trying to be a fancy restaurant with pirate decor and bar level service. It's way too expensive for dinner; not that I'd want to come here when it's dark.
When one of the biggest dive bars in town opens a seafood grill, you have to wonder what they were thinking.
The first thing wrong with this place is that the name is way too long. I went to this place when they first opened, and the experience was just terrible. Bad food, bad service, bad ambiance. Their menu has expanded since then, and some of the dishes sounded pretty good; I was thinking of a revisit. A reviewer on Urbanspoon suggested that I give it another try; so I did.
The crustiness factor hasn't changed much; there are more flags now than before. There's a screeching parrot. The hightop tables are splintered and in disrepair.
The place is literally located in a marina, with an entrance to the venue in the marina itself. As you walk in there's a pool; not a pool I'd want to swim in, but its there. The bar and restaurant are on a dock with a nice view of the marina and the new river. Physically, the only positive is the view; too bad about the rusty bridge.
They have a raw bar; it's not really a bar as there's no seating, but that's what it's called.
Pirate Seafood Bar Raw Bar
Service is better than it was before, but not exactly white glove. Iced tea is served in a plastic cup with a tiny slice of lemon; the roll-up is a cocktail napkin. Their menu has no correlation to the physical place. It has all sorts of fancy dishes, including pictures. There is no lunch menu; my server points me to the back of the menu book where the sandwiches and burgers are; but I came here for some seafood. The seafood entrees are $24 and up; I didn't have that kind of confidence in the place. They have some mussels and clams dishes, but they're too expensive. I'm not paying $15-18 for what amounts to an appetizer.
I decided on the Portuguese chicken, chorizo and clam stew. My server asked if I wanted it spicy; yes of course.
Now another thing that sets a place like this apart from a real restaurant is the nothingness while you're waiting for your food. No bread, no crudites. Just a wait at an empty table. When you're charging $15-25 for lunch entrees there should be something. Finally the food is served.
Looks beautiful, right? At first glance, I notice the presentation but it doesn't much look like the portuguese dish I expected. If you didn't have any idea what to expect, which I suspect is the case with the usual clientelle here, you might eat this and think it wasn't half bad. But it was all wrong. First; it's not a stew. Stews simmer and have a rich, flavorful gravy. This dish should be made with paprika-laden dark meat; legs and thighs, this was unseasoned, unbraised breast meat. There were no potatoes at all; no garlic. They didn't use Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, which is dark red and spiced with spanish paprika. In fact, the chorizo was closer to a hot dog than anything else; you can't make this dish without good, spicy chorizo. I'm not sure why she asked if I wanted it spicy; the only heat in this dish was the red pepper garnish around the rim of the dish.
So if you like chicken breast, hot dogs and clams, this would be fine. But they shouldn't call it "authentic", considering that they not only don't use authentic ingredients, but they leave some key ingredients out altogether.
Now the dish wasn't terrible; I'll give it a C. It wasn't anything I was hoping for, but then again, I should have known better given the surroundings.