Public — A Michelin Star Not Reserved for the Private Few

9 Nov

What does Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, and Public all have in common? If you guessed “winning a Michelin Star,” you’d be correct. However, unlike Gramercy Tavern or Bouley, Public serves brunch–and for very un-Michelin Star prices ($9-14).

As its name suggests, Public is not only open to the public, but also has a public library theme. So if the Dewey Decimal system tickles your fancy, then this restaurant will be right up your alley. Also, unlike other prize-winning eateries who enjoy making its prospective patrons suffer, the waiting process at Public is actually enjoyable. Public offers a bottom-less glass of their drink-du-jour–so depending on the weather, you could be sipping on anything from a refreshing pomegranate ice tea to a body-warming spiced apple cider.

As nice as the free drinks are, the food is the real prize. Public’s menu is filled with interesting options that press all the right culinary buttons. From the menu alone, it’s pretty obvious chef Brad Farmerie (Iron Chef Kitchen winner, and 2009 Next Iron Chef competitor) has a unique knack and feel for great ingredient combinations.

Of all the offerings, the coconut pancakes (with fresh ricotta, mango salad, and ginger-lie syrup) and the ginger spiced lychee french toast (with lemongrass dark palm caramel and pomegranate mascarpone) particularly stood out to me. As the waiter approached, I felt like MacGyver deciding between cutting the red or the green wire. “Is there anyway to try both,” I asked myself. There wasn’t. My eating mate was set on ordering the fry-up (two eggs poached, scrambled or fried on sourdough toast with slow roast tomatoes and buttered mushrooms). I hesitantly opted for the the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but thought to myself, “I will come back for the coconut pancakes.”

When the food arrived, I barely let the plate hit the table before diving in (well, after a quick picture, of course). About four wonderfully pleasing bites into the meal, I realized something odd–it didn’t taste nor look much like ginger spiced lychee french toast. In fact, there was no lychees or french toast on the plate. I concluded it was not the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but instead, the coconut pancakes! “Did the waiter read my mind,” I asked my now grinning self. Usually in situations where the waiter messes up the order, it would be automatic points off–however, since I desperately wanted to try both dishes, it was an absolute pleasure to inform the apologetic waiter of his mistake.

So away went the coconut pancakes, and in its place came the ginger spiced lychee french toast. The joke was a bit on me though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the now-gone coconut pancakes more. I found the lychees to have a canned-taste to them and the pomegranate mascarpone to be extremely overwhelming. The french toast was well made, but I felt the dish as a whole was scattered. In my opinion, the real brunch winner was actually the fry-up.

The ginger spiced lychee french toast aside, my Public experience was a great one–the ingredients were impressive, the dishes had a ton of care put into them, and the talent in the kitchen was unquestionable.

210 Elizabeth St (between Spring St & Prince St)
(212) 343-7011


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