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A trio of carne asada tacos made with grilled flank steak
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The wood fire blazing in the hearth not only provides the cooking source at Público, the glowing fire provides visual interest as guests enter the restaurant. Note the gleaming covered serving pots, small and large, in the foreground.
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A close up of the beans in a sauce made creamy and flavorful with lamb drippings.
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A close-up of one of the more adventurous offerings, the tender lamb heart served with blackberries and cascabel sauce.
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Plato de Carne features paté made in house of pork shoulder, fatback, and chicken livers with allspice and coriander, Serrano ham, house made sausage and mustard. The lamb liver butter has a mousse-like texture and silky mouth feel. Served with toasted bread.
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Carnitas tacos with jalapeño yogurt
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Another shot of the goat gizzard arepa served in a vintage china shallow bowl.
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Bartenders Nate Selsor (left) and Steve Hall (right) flank bar manager Nick DiGiovanni on opening night.
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House, described on the drink menu as Sun Models, Espolon Blanco, Cardamaro, Creme de Cassis and Ginger beer, served with a sprig of rosemary.
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Bar manager Nick DiGiovanni added whimsical touches to the barware, like the pressed glass boot that holds a Modelo and the margarita glasses, which have cactus-shaped stems.
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White Skies, which features house made horchata, Velvet Falernum, Spiced Rhum and cinnamon. Nick DiGiovanni will be introducing a house made barrel aged rum for this drink when the rum is ready to pour.
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From the classic drink menu, the Obstacle 2: Diplomatica Reserva, Creole Shrubb, Carpano Antico and Bitters. DiGiovanni serves this without garnish to preserve the beautiful nose on this drink, modeled on a Manhattan.
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The view from the kitchen to the front of the restaurant shows how the lighting design enlivens the space from the backlit quartrefoil panels on the bar base to the lights washing the side wall to the front globe lights.
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A wall of dried chilies and spices in the open kitchen.
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Garnishes ready to place on plates in the kitchen.
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A view of the bar from the entry
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The hostess at Público greets guest under a custom made sign cut steel sign.
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Opening night menu at Público
The arepas. These Venezuelan cornmeal cakes made from landrace Bolita corn processed in house brought new tastes to the table. The flavor and texture of the corn cake alone is pretty special, but Público kicks it up with a variety of toppings guaranteed to thrill taste buds.
We chose shredded duck gizzard with a green apple salsa and a tasty chipotle morita. The gizzards, tender and sweet, play off the fruit-forward flavor of the morita chilies. The tart apple salsa sparkles with a topping of mint and chives.
If duck gizzard isn’t to your liking, Público offers two additional toppings for these tasty cakes, as well as more familiar fare like whitefish tacos, tacos al pastor, and carne asada.
Over the top pinto beans get their taste from hearth grilled lamb drippings. Possibly the creamiest beans ever, thick and full-flavored with a hint of heat and a whole lot of pop, a must-taste dish. Topped with queso fresco, mint and chives, consider them lush pit beans with a Latin flair.
The beans arrive at table in a shiny two-handled pot seated on an old-fashioned plate. We drew a vintage silver-plate oval platter, but Público mixes vintage serving pieces with formal white ware for interesting tabletops.
The restaurant is a visual feast. The design delights at every turn, but the wow factors never overwhelm. Instead, the space reveals itself by degrees through the bar and dining room to the open kitchen and glowing hearth. There's a custom community table in the front window, its live edge softly curved; and large-scale tree sculptures accenting the booth seating. The trees (right) create a sheltering presence and transform the tall space into a a more intimate setting. Such design choices suggest rusticity but speak modern sophistication.
The lighting pools, splashes and creates light curtains throughout as floating panels drop and recede. The backlit quatrefoil panels on the bar base complement the hexagonal designs on three large white globes animating the front window space. The chameleon-like space seems both classically modern and fun, yet androgynously romantic. Eclectic art echoes agrarian foods, urban energy and Latin sensibilities. Kudos to SPACE Architecture + Design for the design work.
Chef and owner Mike Randolph takes guests on a culinary joyride with Latin, Central, South American and Island influences. He combines simple, time-honored cooking techniques with not-so-standard ingredients like lamb liver butter, huitlacoche, goat cheese crèma and tender lamb hearts with blackberries and cascabel peppers. Don’t miss the beet salad, the Plato de Carne with its house made sausage, paté, and lamb liver butter.
Texture, color and the myriad flavors of chilies, herbs and spices made for delightful eating. For example, Randolph adds toasted quinoa to the salad of red, gold and chiogga baby beets (right) with two sauces, a white chocolate mole, and a green salsa verde. He throws in three thin radish bites for a piquant touch. He tucks in crisp sheets of fried beet greens for color and texture. Every dish exhibits the same attention to detail.
His menu is both adventurous and accessible, with dishes that challenge and selections that comfort, a delicate balance, well-played at Público.
Hospitality ruled on opening night when General Manager Jack Noecker personally visited each table. He circulated the restaurant with ease and grace, delivering plates, chatting briefly with customers. He took time with the staff, too. Seven long months of construction and creative hard work came down to a week of soft openings to the first night of service. Noecker’s hospitable presence added to the special food and drink we enjoyed opening night.
Tue-Sun: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
The opening night menu at Público