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The kangaroo appetizer, a weird but wonderful marriage of the Middle East and Australia, simply assumes that there is nothing in the rule book preventing coriander-scented falafel from finding happiness with a hopping marsupial, as long as you bring on a tangy tahini-lemon sauce and brighten the picture with green-pepper relish.

Diner's Journal: Public (William Grimes) (from today's DIGEST. You may have to scroll down for the appropriate link.)

Peter Gordon and Anna Hansen, owners of The Providores in London, as well as Brad Farmerie (the head chef at The Providores) bring their New Zealand-influenced cuisine to NoLIta.

So, has anyone eaten there lately?


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Public (210 Elizabeth St, bet. Spring & Prince Sts) is a double James Beard award winner for both restaurant design and restaurant graphics. The motif is that of a public library circa 1964. Who knew that card catalogues and leaded glass restroom doors would be modern chic? Even the menu comes on a clipboard that looks like it's been pulled from manilla card stock.

Unfortunately, you can't eat décor. When it comes to food, Public's catalogue entry is: almost, but not quite. My friend's Grilled Mayan Prawns with asparagus were very good, but she thought the chef was too parsimonious with the ingredients, especially the asparagus. My sister-in-law's Tasmanian Sea Trout was very good, but a tad too spicy. My brother's Roast New Zealand Venison Loin was "very good, but not great," for reasons he didn't specify. My Roast Lamb Chump was stringy, and in fact not as good as the accompanying vegetables.

So we had a happy evening, for which we had no regrets, but no one in our party of four felt that the food quite lived up to the design. Luckily Public is very reasonably priced for a high-concept place, with mains in the $18-25 range. However, they do clean up on the appetizers (we weren't that hungry, and didn't order any), which are expensive compared to the rest of the menu at $8-19. Desserts are $8.50-$11.50; we shared two between us and were satisfied without being overwhelmed.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I had dinner at Public last week with friends and we were extremely impressed with the innovative food we sampled. We tried the following dishes:

Grilled kangaroo on a coriander falafel with tahini-lemon sauce & green pepper relish ($12)--the kangaroo was tender and sweet, and went well with the beautifully crisp falafel.

Grilled frog legs with three soups ($13)--simply outstanding. We kept saying--More more!! Each leg came on top of a little bowl of soup--three different flavors (one an Indian curry, one Thai, one I forget).

Grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce, creme fraiche & green plantain crisps ($14)--perfectly large lovely buttery scallops.

Abalone mushroom ceviche with miso aubergines and a ginger ponzu sauce ($9)--this was a really interesting dish-the mushrooms and abalone made for a deep musty woodsy combo, very memorable.

Salad of herby lentils, green beans, avocado, toasted pecans & baby gem with pomegranate molasses & avocado oil vinaigrette ($9.50)--the table was split on this one--there seemed to be too many ingrediants, but certain aspects, such as the lentils, were just terrific.

Pan-fried New Zealand snapper on a truffle, vanilla, and celeriac puree with green beans and caper salsa ($25)--moist fresh as hell fish, on top of a puree that reminded me of a potato puree I swooned over at Jose Andres' minibar in DC last year.

A plate of Spanish cheeses with saffron & sherry roast apples, marcona almonds and focaccia crisps ($9.50)--merely ok assortment of blues and manchego.

Dessert sample--a mini version of each of the following ($10.50):

Muscovado pavlova with vanilla mascarpone mousse and rhubarb balsalmic compote (loved the compote)

Goat's curd brulee with pomegranate roast grapes and Molly's caramel shortbread (the grapes made this dish)

Peanut tart (with stuff I forget)

Side of sweet corn ice cream --beautiful.

The desserts were a bit over the top, but we admired how adventurous they were.

We brought an Australian white (name escapes me at the moment),there's a $25 corkage fee but it was better than what's on their list. Friends also enjoyed some dessert wine.

I was far more impressed with the food than the decor at Public--in contrast to the other reviewer. Sure, it was a nice open airy setting, and very popular on the Monday night we went--but the sheer orginality and tastiness of the food, at a pretty reasonable pricepoint--is what I'll be back for.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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My Roast Lamb Chump was stringy, and in fact not as good as the accompanying vegetables.

No wonder the lamb was stringy since it was a chump :laugh::biggrin::rolleyes: Sorry, couldn't resist.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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the Monday Room part is more interesting.

went the other night it was ok i thought but no more interesting then the food at public. it seems to me that they try to hard to be diffrent and it does not always work in there favor.

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went there on sunday night and the food was very good. they have this thing called sunday supper they offer on sunday nights where the chef does a 5 course tasting menu and there was some good food.

first course was a deconstructed ceaser salad with anchovies. they made a gelee out of the romaine lettuce and powdered some olive oil and one of the best ceaser dressings i have ever had.

second course was a ocean trout that still had the skin on it that was crispy a tamarind sauce and a guava puree and green mango slaw and bibb lettuce. good dish .

third course was a real good dish. lamb that was roasted and sliced thin with radishes that were glazed and brussel sprout leaves(never had just the leaves before) also was a black olive puree and a pickled cherry sauce. i liked this course the best.

fourth course was a venosin loin with cranberry sauce a single roasted beet, some kind of mushroom and a coconut foam. i think there was more stuff on there but i was pretty drunk by now.

fifth course was dessert and the least creative dish of the night. beet sorbet with a walnut cake.

overall good meal little disapointed with dessert however. the food seemed very diffrent then the regular menu and in a good way. it seems that they are trying to make the food a little more modern and foucsed.

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