Sunday, September 20, 2009


On Johan and Lucie's last night in New York, we had a wonderful dinner at Public. I took Johan there on one of his trips to NY last year and we ended up eating at the bar because the restaurant was packed. This time, we made a reservation, though the restaurant was noticably emptier. Whether it was because of the economy or the fact that it was a rainy Friday evening, I guess we'll never know. It's not because of the food, that's for sure, as Public apparently received it's first Michelin star this year.

In any case, we went straight for the entrees that night. Being the experimental freak that I am, I knew what I wanted to order immediately: Snail and oxtail ravioli with pickled shiitake mushrooms, oven dried tomatoes, peashoots and smoked paprika oil ($24.50).

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed. I love snails, whether it's escargot soaked in buttery, garlicky goodness or the Filipino preparation of ginataang kuhol where the snails are swimming in spicy coconut milk. In this preparation, I could not taste the snails at all. What this dish tasted like to me was beef brisket stuffed into a dumpling. I've had beef brisket soup with peashoots and noodles in many Chinese restaurants, and this was what this dish tasted like to me. I suppose this was meant to be a play on that, since Public serves "Australasian" cuisine after all. All that said, I ate every single bite willingly.

Lucie seemed very happy with her roast lamb sirloin on crispy goats cheese polenta with saffron braised baby vegetables and harissa aioli ($27). I've had this dish before and it's quite yummy, especially with the lovely shiraz we enjoyed. My beef with this dish was the crispy polenta, since I do prefer mine creamy (hello, Bottega's lovely polenta under glass). But Lucie loved the crispy goat cheese flavored polenta, and I can't say anything bad about that nicely medium rare lamb sirloin.

Both times I went here, I wanted to kick myself for not ordering fish because Johan did both times and practically swooned over his food. I'm such a carnivore, but next time I should give fish a chance. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Johan ordered the Australian barramundi with vanilla celeriac puree, braised garlic greens, verjus and muscat grape sauce ($28). I would definitely order that next time. I mean, muscat grape sauce? Uh, yum!

The high point of our meal, however, turned out to be dessert. The great thing about skipping apps is that you leave enough room for dessert and don't feel (too) guilty getting one each. Johan's choice was definitely the best of the bunch: Strawberry shortcake with candied almonds and amaretto mascarpone.

That, my friends, is a wonderful use of $9. Do have it if you get the chance. The strawberries drunk on amaretto, the cream, the crunchy candied almonds, and the delicious shortcake is just heaven.

My dessert paled in comparison, I must admit, but I loved it anyway. I had the salted milk chocolate mousse with tahini ice cream and sesame candy ($9). I do not have much of a sweet tooth and often tire of chocolate after a few bites (yes, I am a strange creature). But make the chocolate a tad salty, and I'm all over it. This dessert is not for everyone. But if you're one of those people who can eat chocolate and potato chips at the same time, give this a whirl.

Our final dessert was Lucie's choice: Roasted peach, buttermilk panna cotta, peach ginger soup and blueberry gelée ($9). This is totally my kind of dessert. I have a friend who doesn't think fruits belong on her desserts (or is it just berries Ludette?) but I am the exact opposite. I looooove fruits on my desserts. I just loved the lightness of the panna cotta paired with the crunchy topping. The sweet peach with a hint of ginger was a nice twist too. The blueberry gelée I could take or leave, but I suppose it made it all look prettier.

My one complaint about my experience was that I got attacked by mosquitoes under the table! I was wearing tights and those pesky devils managed to get through. Even so, I would definitely like to come back, especially to try their brunch. I've heard interesting things about coconut pancakes, a venison burger on a miso bun, and vanilla brioche French toast with some of that delightful amaretto mascarpone and fresh basil. Must wake up for that one of these weekends!

Hope you're having a great Sunday with a nice brunch, hot coffee, fresh OJ, and no chores!

Public is located at 210 Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring Streets, New York, NY. Tel. 212.343.7011

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