The launch of this restaurant was accompanied by hype appearing everywhere on social media like twitter, different online guides and other food blogs that I regularly read.
Public is another establishment from the folks who operate Canvas bar at Woolloongabba and on paper offers everything trendy appearing in restaurants lately; stylish and chic furnishings, large bar, sharing plates, big meaty dude food flavours, excellent cocktail menu…
We were greatly anticipating our visit here as the place was so gushed about. It unfortunately fell short of our expectations though. Thats the thing with hype isn’t it?
Public takes over the space previously occupied by one of the branches of Groove Train, so frankly anything put in here was an improvement. We rode the escalator upwards to the first floor and then were surprisingly stopped short by closed glass doors. Apparently the automatic opening was not working on this occasion, but then this just created an exclusive feeling that we had a personal door opener.
The restaurant seemed rather quiet when we walked in for our 8pm booking, on a Saturday night. Seems odd, this should be their busiest time. There were a few people drinking at the bar, but I couldn’t help wondering if they had come in for just one drink, would they stay for another? It just wasn’t really that kind of welcoming vibe.
We started off with a cocktail each, L was really pleased to see there was a 1951 Martini on the menu, something he used to drink at the Gin Palace in Melbourne when living there. This is a martini served in a cointreau glazed glass with anchovy olives, and made L very happy.
I had the Space Gin Smash, which was gin, elderflower, apple juice, red grapes, mint and lemon juice. It was really refreshing, and gave me the impression of a summer cocktail given a wintery edge by adding the red grapes and apple juice.
The menu is divided into a variety of differently priced small plates and the larger shared dishes of Pork Belly and Saltbush lamb shoulder. We wanted to order the dishes that had been most raved about, and so went ahead and ordered the KFD (Kentucky Fried Duck), Texas Brisket, the smaller Saltbush lamb dish and Truffle Mac n Cheese.
The K.F.D. arrived quickly and looked as amusing a concept as I had imagined. There were three pieces of fried duck arranged in a paper bag with “potato and gravy” on the side. The potato and gravy was an essential ingredient, as underneath the batter, we found the duck meat was dry and not particularly flavoursome. Added to the potato and gravy however, it was reasonably tasty. I found the meal quite difficult to eat, dipping the duck into the small jar was difficult, two of the three duck pieces were quite bony as well. For $26 for this dish, it wasn’t really as exciting as I had anticipated.
Our problems with dry meat continued with the Texas Brisket, which was presented as a block of meat with flour tortillas, coleslaw and a small bottle of vibrant orange chilli sauce. The flour tortillas were clearly out of a packet, and quite thick, so the combination of this plus dry meat in your mouth wasn’t that great. We ended up eating the meat by itself with the sauce and ‘slaw, leaving the tortillas behind. The chilli sauce could have done with a bit more heat, and the coleslaw with a bit more mayonnaise.
Saltbush lamb was our next dish, with sheeps milk and caramelised onion, this was nicely presented and looked great. The meat was actually quite sweet, and this was our most enjoyed dish, although the sheeps milk pieces were a bit few and far between.
Finally, Truffle Mac n Cheese came out piping hot (be careful to avoid burning yourself), and was immensely cheesy. There was a definite truffle flavour, and after a while the contents became crusty around the edges of the pot, and I found myself digging out these delcious pieces. This dish was definitely enjoyable.
We were feeling a bit underwhelmed and the atmosphere was putting us off a little, so decided to forgo dessert and head for home.
At the end, our waiter did ask how our meals were and I replied honestly that the Texas Brisket was disappointing. He explained they were experimenting with different ways of cooking the meat, and ended up removing this meal from our total bill, which I certainly didn’t expect, having full intentions of paying for everything. He was a little too personal, sitting next to me on the bench seat whilst we were discussing this, something I found uncomfortable. I can’t help but wonder why if there was some experimenting with meats going on, shouldn’t this be sorted out before presenting the dish to customers?
I ended up wishing we had gone with some of the other meals on the menu rather than the ones that I had heard the most hype over, as perhaps we would have enjoyed those more. I find Public a bit of a conundrum, I really wanted to like it, and definitely like the space, however the food and our general experience, whilst not terrible, did not come up to scratch.
C.Public Level 1, 400 George Street Brisbane CBD Ph 07 3210 2288 Open Lunch Mon- Fri, Dinner Mon-Sat www.lovepublic.com.au