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210 Elizabeth Street, New York City, February 24 2013, www.public-nyc.com
Public restaurant opened in the NoLita/Soho area in 2003 and since that time has won multiple awards, including a Michelin star in 2009. The chef, Brad Farmerie, has also appeared on Iron Chef: America, and beat Cat Cora in Battle "Maple Syrup". Public serves dinner as well as a first come, first serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday. As it's a popular spot, showing up before 11 AM or after 2 PM will greatly reduce your wait time.
Public is a beautiful space, designed by the AvroKo design group. In addition to its culinary awards, it has also received a James Beard foundation design award. The space can be best described as a chic industrious-modern design, with brick, warm woods and clean lines. One of the cool aspects is an old fashioned library card catalog that contains their old menus from each date. There is also a cool horse head on the wall, which even Camille loved (She rides/loves horses). Ok, ok, enough with the design comments, this is a food blog.
As it was already almost 1 PM by the time we were seated, we decided to stick with a light menu. Dinner at Per Se would be in 4 hours, so we couldn’t fill up too much. Having a myriad of brunch options in NYC, I chose Public based on its diverse menu with more esoteric brunch items.
To start I had a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, while Camille had a Jasmine tea. The OJ was a spectacular burst of summer, but I guess it should be at six dollars per 8 ounce glass. The tea was aromatic and light, a standard Jasmine. We were also given two small scones to start, one cranberry, the other fennel seed. Both were good, but a bit dry.
Camille decided on the tropical fruit bowl with rosewater and sweet tahini yogurt, while I chose the coconut pancakes with fresh ricotta, mango salad and ginger-lime syrup.
The tropical fruit salad was a bit of false advertising, containing only grapefruit, orange, grapes and pineapple. I wouldn’t really consider the first three to be tropical fruits. Regardless, the salad was a pretty dish, with great aromatics from the rosewater and chiffonade of mint. The flavours were bright and clean, with the mint and rosewater adding an element not found in a typical fruit salad. The tahini yogurt was thick and delicious. The two gripes about this dish were the lack of tropical fruits (eg. guava/papaya/mango) and that the rosewater somewhat overpowered the other flavours.
The coconut pancakes were light and fluffy, with a definite coconut flavour. The mango salad and ginger-lime syrup were excellent, and made for a more tropical topping than Camille’s salad. The ricotta was great as well. As a big fan of coconut, I was hoping for more coconut flavour, but I think that the texture would become too fibrous if more was added. In order to make super coconut-y pancakes, you’d likely have to add the flavour elsewhere, either in a cream, drizzle or extract. Overall I still enjoyed this dish very much.
Our server was knowledgeable about all menu items, and service was efficient and attentive.
Public is a visually stunning restaurant and serves a unique brunch. The food was great, with only minor critiques. We unfortunately couldn’t order more due to our dinner at Per Se a few hours later, but the egg dishes seen at other tables looked wonderful. They also had a table with 3-4 types of scone and various preserves, which guests were welcome to grab at their convenience. Again, we didn’t try these due to belly space restrictions.