Cuisine: Eclectic/Global, Australian, New Zealand
Price: ~$60 pp + drinks
Address: 210 Elizabeth Street, NYC 10012
Phone: (212) 343-7011
Dinner: Mon-Thu: 6pm – 11pm (Bar open until 1am), Fri-Sat: 6pm-12am (Bar open until 2:30am)
Brunch: Sat-Sun: 11am – 3:30pm
Sunday Supper: 6pm-10:30pm (Bar open until 1am)
Public is easily one of my favorite restaurants in the city and is always a solid choice to bring friends, family, colleagues, or dates for any occasion. Everything is superb in my opinion, from the food to the space to the service to the ambiance. I first went to Public in the winter of 2009 and it was during that visit I was introduced to two things that became my special obsession: AvroKo and yuzu chili infused vodka. Now, the yuzu chili infused vodka is fairly self-explanatory. They seem to only serve it in the fall/winter time as my subsequent visits have left me yuzu vodka-less sadly… but there are plenty of other delicious concoctions to imbibe, such as the Monday Fizz.
AvroKo is an award-winning concept and design team based in NYC that has been behind acclaimed restaurants such as Beauty & Essex, The Hurricane Club, Double Crown, Stanton Social, Park Avenue, and Quality Meats. This visionary team first captured the spotlight for their work on Public, which led to an unprecedented sweep of the restaurant design and graphics categories at the James Beard Awards in May 2004. Granted, I knew nothing of this when I first dined at Public, but it was only fitting that I became enamored with restaurant design because of this restaurant.
Public is a quintessential Nolita restaurant situated on a serene tree-lined street amongst various trendy boutiques. The restaurant takes its inspiration from public buildings, which is reflected in the high skylit ceilings, school red brick walls, library card catalog, and sliding industrial doors leading to a loading dock which serves as the “patio dining” area. Public is the very embodiment of casual chic from the billowing gossamer curtains to the elegant candle sconces to the intimate wine lounge adjacent to the main restaurant.
The Monday Room is 20-seat “wine bar without the bar,” rather you have your own personal steward to service you. The Monday Room operates separately from Public with different drink and food menu, although some Public entrées are made available. This concept is replicated at another AvroKo-owned operation in NoHo; Madame Geneva is an gin bar and lounge adjacent to the main restaurant Double Crown.
Public serves global, eclectic cuisine with particular focus on Oceania — Australian and New Zealand ingredients and influences are prevalent throughout the menu. Despite the broad “global” theme, this inventive menu flows together seamlessly with its beautiful presentation. According to Chef Farmerie, Australasian cuisine is an agreeable mishmash of American structure, farm-fresh ingredients, and global (mostly Southeast Asian) spices. You won’t find any chicken or beefsteaks here, but plenty of unique wild game such as kangaroo, venison, and wild boar. My repeat favorites include the Pan-Seared Foie Gras, Mushroom Ceviche, Snail and Oxtail Ravioli, Roasted Duck Breast, and Tasmanian Sea Trout.
Monday Fizz: cava with a splash of cognac, bitters and sugar
There’s a lovely cocktail list in the Monday Room but they are not normally served in the main Public restaurant; however, our server was kind enough to accommodate our request for Monday Room cocktails during our dinner.
Foccacia with roasted garlic, Sourdough, Roll with pink peppercorn and figs
I think all bread should have pink peppercorn and figs in it…
Pan-seared foie gras on spiced french toast with mango chutney, maple glaze and crispy bacon
Foie gras and french toast is a spectacular combination that I was first introduced to via Norma’s Foie Gras French Toast Brioche. Whereas Norma’s resembles a messy but delicious science fair volcano experiment, Public’s version is elegant in pronouncing each individual flavor. Plus, a maple-glazed bacon strip is always appreciated.
Grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce, crème fraîche and green plantain crisps
The scallops were fresh and meaty, and went well with the sweet chili sauce.
Marinated white anchovies on quinoa croquettes with spicy saffron aioli
I actually do like anchovies as is evident in my recent recipes (Baked Peppers with Anchovies, Chicken Puttanesca), but honestly wasn’t a huge fan of this ingredient combination with the quinoa croquette and spicy saffron. A bit too busy for my taste buds.
Grilled kangaroo on a coriander falafel with lemon tahini sauce and green pepper relish
I had actually tasted kangaroo once before in Australia, and well, it tastes like steak! This is definitely more of an “experiential” dish as I don’t know if anyone particularly loves the taste of roo… it’s tender but not filet mignon kind of tender, and it’s a bit gamey but not as vibrant in taste as lamb. You order it to say you’ve tried it but otherwise I don’t particularly recommend it.
Mushroom ceviche with miso aubergines and ginger ponzu sauce
I adored this vegetarian take on ceviche! The flavors were light, refreshing, and simply delicious!
Grilled Kobe beef tongue with an aubergine-cumin relish and a pita bread puree
It was a bit chewier than I think it should be… but I’m not any kind of expert.
Pan-seared Tasmanian sea trout with carrot-cardamom puree, hibiscus braised fennel, chick peas and edamame
Public is excellent at preparing fish dishes and this is no exception. Tasmanian sea trout is one of my favorite fish, and is not a very common menu item outside of a few select sushi restaurants.
Snail and oxtail ravioli with pickled shiitake mushrooms, oven dried tomatoes, pea shoots and smoked paprika oil
I first ordered this dish for the “weird” factor but the taste has kept me coming back for more!
Roasted duck breast with sesame soy dressing, cassava chips, wokked bok choy and pickled chilies
The duck was so tender and the pickled chilies added the perfect amount of pizzazz.
New Zealand venison loin, Cabrales dumplings, oyster mushrooms and salsa verde
Cabrales is a Spanish blue cheese so I believe that is what those dumplings are? This dish was particularly rich but well balanced with the oyster mushrooms and salsa verde.
Confit belly and roasted tenderloin of Berkshire pork with salsify, apple puree, sage shortbread and watercress
Despite the fruit and herbs, this is still a fairly heavy dish. I have a hard time saying no to pork belly but I think the other meat entrées are much better than this one. If you want great pork belly, David Chang’s Momofuku empire is the place to go.
*All the desserts we ordered were due to their funny names… but as a disclaimer, I would not order these ones again. I do want to try the Chocolate espresso cake with butterscotch ice cream with whiskey sabayon next time though!
Hokey Pokey ice cream with passionfruit caramel sauce and a ginger snap
I’m still unsure what Hokey Pokey means in this context but it was really delicious.
Rhubarb crumble with lemongrass swirl ice cream and a citrus tuile
Rhubard is all the rage right now… I don’t really get it though…