Ask, and ye shall receive.
A week or so ago, I made a statement "when I get 200 Facebook fans, I'm going to a nice restaurant to celebrate". I expected it to happen in a few weeks or so but with 1 or 2 days, I exceeded the 200 mark (thanks guys!) and it was time to make a booking.
Spring and Public were the main contenders for this occasion. I based my choice on one thing: I had an orthodontic appointment last week and my teeth were very sore afterwards. Come Friday, I thought "if my teeth still hurt tomorrow, I'm booking Public because it's a cocktail bar too so at least I can get drunk".
And Public it was!!
I've heard loads of great things about Public. I did the obligatory pre-dinner research and Tweeted for dish recommendations. The more I read, the more excited I got. From what I could see, many of the popular dishes at Public were quirky spins on basic classics. I kept hearing raves about the mac and cheese and Kentucky fried duck.
We had some drinks to start with before our table was ready. I ordered the bananarama cocktail that was too intense to start with but really grew on me.
When we were handed menus, I made a show of scanning through and pretending to ask Marc what he felt like trying, when really, I knew what I wanted to get. I'm lucky he has such an "I'll eat whatever you order" attitude because I get free reign to pick and choose.
The waiter came and I quickly reeled off my selection of dishes.
Texas brisket - with flour tortillas and chili sauce
The food was very prompt in arrival. The first we tasted was the Texas brisket. Interestingly, it's something that I would not have ordered if I'd gone into the restaurant without any prior research. It was a dish that many others recommended so I went along with it. I'm REALLY glad that I did because this ended up being my favorite!!
My tortilla brisket roll
The beef brisket was melt-in-the-mouth tender, with an exceptional flavor and slight gooey, stickiness. I rolled the meat inside the supplied tortillas with some coleslaw and chili sauce. Since AB (after braces), I found tortillas/wraps to be one of the most challenging things to eat. This one at Public was no trouble at all. The wraps were lovely and soft... it seems strange to be able to compliment a simple wrap so much but I was impressed.
I had to consciously stop myself from over-indulging on the potato skins, which had been another recommendation. They were crunchy and lightly salted. I thought they were delicious but then again, they are potato skins, which are almost always delicious.
Kentucky fried duck
The Kentucky fried duck, as I mentioned before, is one of Public's most famous dishes. Of course we ordered it. It came as a few portions in a cute paper bag, with a serving of Public's version of gravy and mash. I liked the idea but I wasn't blown away. I think I prefer the greasy, fast food chicken classic variety... someone can shoot me now.
Saltbush lamb - with sheeps milk and caramelized onion
I was quite excited about the Saltbush lamb because a) it was another highly recommended dish and b) because I lurve lamb. The plate looked gorgeous with splashes of broadbeans, peas and herbs. Unfortunately, the lamb just didn't do it for me. The texture was sort of just 'meh'... I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be crunchy or tender or what. Marc commented that it tasted good but no different to say, a pub lamb roast.
Truffle mac and cheese
The final main was the much-awaited mac and cheese. It was a smallish serving size but I thought this was a good thing because we had so much other food and also because the mac and cheese is very rich. It was an extremely full-bodied dish, dense with creaminess, cheesiness and an obvious truffle twang. Marc liked this dish but I actually found it to be too heavy. I think it needs some lemon or crunch or fresh herbs to cut the richness. Or I might just be getting soft.
Our waiter popped over and asked how everything was. I commented that I adored the Texas brisket and potato skins. Marc praised the duck and mac and cheese. Our waiter must've been quite sharp because he immediately pointed out that this was "everything but the lamb". We conceded that it was our least favorite dish.
Despite that, I had enjoyed everything enough to decide that dessert was a neccesity. We (aka 'I') picked a couple of desserts to share. I was tipsy and pronouncing the fussy French words on the fly but we got the right menu items so either I did alright or our clever waiter was also skilled at comprehension.
Cherry and pistachio clafouti - with praline icecream
Marc tried the clafouti first and commented that it was "good, except for the bits with too much cherry". It took me a while to figure out what he meant, since you'd assume that cherry in cherry clafouti was not only to be expected, but a positive feature. The cherry was fairly tart so in large doses (where it was the most concentrated in the custard), it did cause a bit of that face cringe you get from a sharp dose of surprise sour.
Chocolate marquis - with coconut and lime
Our other dessert was the chocolate marquis. It was an extremely rich, dense and smooth chocolate 'cake' (quotations because it's not really a cake texture; maybe more of a mousse). Although this wasn't exactly innovative, I liked this dessert. It was creamy and chocolatey with a good dose of biscuit crunch. The fresh and zesty sorbet was perfect for balancing the sweetness.
While we were eating dessert, our waiter brought out a small bottle of reisling, compliments of the house, as compensation for not enjoying the lamb. What a lovely thought! The sweet wine went down a treat with our desserts. Perfecto.
I had a really good time at Public. We often focus on the food offered at a restaurant and specific dishes. What I think is more important is the overall experience. Public has a semi-isolated location (it's more of a 'go there knowing it's there' restaurant than a 'walk past and walk in' restaurant') but the fitout is great. It's trendy without being pretentious and has this nice, buzzy feel that makes it appropriate for both after work drinks and dinner dates. Overall I thought the dishes were clever and nicely executed. The service was attentive and thoughtful.