College Station – The continuously increasing population of Aggieland has turned a once small town situated next to the train tracks into a thriving community, and it is not only on game days. As the Brazos Valley becomes bigger and bigger, so does the desire for refined dining and The Republic Steakhouse knows how to whoop it up.
“They definitely need to come here before an Aggie kickoff, you know what I’m saying?” said customer, Brandi Reed.
“As a foodie, I love the high end food,” said Kyle Parker, a frequent visitor at The Republic.
“I can go on and on about our food. I’m quite partial,” confessed Wade Barkman, owner of The Republic Steakhouse.
Wade brought big flavor to BCS back in 2007, but it all started in the 90’s when the former JUCO baseball player had to make a decision about his life.
“Well, you can continue to pursue that and get degrees from schools you may not want to get degrees from,” continued Wade, “or you can use your brains, give up baseball, and go play… school.”
He attended Texas A&M and earned his degree in business management and then pursued his dream of owning his own restaurant by the age of 30.
“I made the boastful claim to my parents when I was about 15 or 16 that if baseball doesn’t work out I’ll open my first restaurant by the time I turn 30,” he said.
Wade attended the Culinary Institute of America, and afterwords landed his first job in Las Vegas—but it wasn’t as glamorous as he had hoped.
“You got three degrees and you’re counting kegs in the pump room underneath Caesar’s Palace and it’s very humbling. And then your next job is the Cleopatra’s Barge. It was my first official position,” he explained.
Eventually hard work and consistency paid off as Wade made his way through the ranks for 6 years in Sin City.
“Six years in Las Vegas is about 15 anywhere else,” he said. “To leave Wynn Las Vegas to go back to College Station turns a few heads, when people have no idea where that is. ”
With only six weeks to spare before his 30th birthday, The Republic opened its doors and brought a steakhouse to Bryan College Station unlike any before.
“I spent a lot of time researching what the classic American, timeless steak house is,” he said. “Back to the 1880s to 1920s… the quad Hollywood booths that you’ll see over here, that doesn’t exist anymore. That used to be in almost every supper club in the late 1800s to 1940s… to Hollywood booths over here to… create a bunch of crazy cool pockets of what I’ve always called ‘excuses to come into the restaurant.'”
One of the best excuses to come in is the massive whiskey collection.
“There’s one place I know of, in Chicago, in this entire country that has a better whiskey list,” said Wade.
Wade piloted a flight of fine whiskey and finished things off with a special bottle known as Michter’s Celebration.
“This one is as rare as it gets,” he explained. “It’s unbelievably hard to find it… It’s only been released twice… so there’s only been two barrels ever in the history and that’s 2013 in 2016. So when you find something that rare you have to get it.”
In the kitchen, Wade and chef, Gary, worked up a few fine dishes, starting with a shrimp dish with Cajun roots.
“Refined version of a New Orleans style barbecue shrimp, but we call it Gulf Shrimp Beurre Monté, because in Texas this is not barbecue [but] in New Orleans it is,” said Wade.
This dish is all about the shrimp and the sauce.
“We instruct our servers to make sure that they don’t clear this dish before all the sauce has gone, because it’s worth getting just for the sauce, and the rest of the components are incredible as well,” he commented.
Next up a, steak au poivre.
“It’s a classic way of eating a steak. It’s also a way that not a lot of people are eating steaks these days, and we, like a lot of things, try to bring back some of the classic, old school ways of preparing and eating steaks and crazy cocktails. I’m a bit of an old school guy,” he confessed.
“It’s the best steak you’re going to get in town…” said customer, Brandi.
To top it all off, some Ribeye Tartare.
“Small diced filet mignon mixed with curried red chili paste, medium diced red onions, flash fried capers, extra Virgin olive oil, Nam Pla fish sauce,” Wade continued, “so then you just make sure that you mix all of those flavors thoroughly… This is a dish that was not popular at all… and now it has such a cult-ish following that if we took it off the menu… It would be a problem.”
“I refused to even try it, and my friend said, ‘You know what? I’m going to mix it up, put a potato chip. Try it one time, if you don’t like it spit it out on a napkin…’ And you know what? It’s fantastic,” confessed customer, Kyle.
When eating at The Republic, it feels like you should be in Vegas, or New York, or Chicago, but instead you’ll find this fine dining experience in College Station.
If you’re looking for some of the finest flavors in the Brazos Valley for steak, wine, whiskey, shrimp, and even a little filet mignon tartare, The Republic Steakhouse is well worth a stop.
“This is the best place in College Station to come to,” confirmed customer, Kennedy Jameson.
“Definitely worth the trip to come here and get the experience one time for sure, if not at least twice,” shared Kyle.