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Private thoughts on Public

Siblings are often so different. That’s what I found at The Public Kitchen & Bar, the younger sister of popular Local 11 Ten.

Both are handsome. The Public is trendy, well–appointed and comfortable. Diners enjoy inside seating in a cozy lower level, by big windows overlooking Bull Street, on the bustling sidewalk or perched high above the Bull and Liberty intersection. The bar’s inviting, with bartenders concocting sought–after craft cocktails.

The location is paramount to the month–old eatery’s success. Although Broughton and Bull is much ballyhooed, this intersection is arguably the busiest, most restaurant-friendly bullseye in the city. The sightlines, the dÉcor, the design — all are perfectly conceived and imaginative.

The same can’t be said for the menu.

Here’s where the siblings part company. While Local 11 Ten set the pace for new dishes upon its opening, The Public is clearly more oriented to casual dining; dishes that won’t challenge consumers’ palates.

I was accompanied by three other guests so I could get a full overview of the menu. My New York strip, from a grass–fed supplier, was perfectly prepared to medium–well, but had fatty clusters all throughout the cut. It was satisfying, and a good value at $19.

Sides of mashed potatoes were dense and starchy; a pair of broiled tomatoes topped with cheese was short of ripe, the cheese topping rubbery and unappealing. Chimichurra sauce had intense flavor, but had separated into a watery puddle by the time the plate reached the table.

An appetizer of potato and bacon soup was built on a chicken broth base, and seemed to have had too much thickening agent added.

My friend’s jerk chicken was overcooked and dry. The jerk seasoning was mostly allspice, which had clumped and created an overwhelming coating. A quinoa base was moist enough, but lacked much flavor.

Another friend’s hamburger was the hit of the night. A big, spongy pretzel roll looked and tasted great, and the 8–oz. burger was beautifully seasoned. Still, side dishes offer only potato chips or pasta salad. À la carte sides can be added, like mashed potatoes, but none seem fitting for such a generously portioned burger.

My other friend liked his stuffed Portobello mushrooms but felt the stuffing was too cheesy.

A month into its birth, there is still no menu posted online for The Public; there have been repeated calls for a menu among the restaurant’s Facebook followers. This is a real oversight—unless, like me, owners and management know they need a good tweaking to ensure The Public’s menu sustains in a competitive marketplace.

It’s disappointing to see such a beautiful concept and location go lacking for a menu that fits its young, inventive personality. It’s a great value if the menu fits your needs, and the wine list offers very fairly priced wines. Don’t let the small brands put you off though—I did know several of the wines and they are remarkable little producers.

1 W. Liberty St., (912) 200–4045

Artisan breads with a cause

Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute of Savannah’s Bistro Savoir is selling artisan breads and desserts prior to Thanksgiving.

The artisan breads and desserts will be locally–sourced and handmade under the direction of Chef Jean Vendeville, world–renowned pastry chef. Online pre–order sales are available through Nov. 15 or when quantities are sold out.

Artisan breads will include brioche, challah, dinner rolls, pumpernickel, focaccia and fougasse—a French version of focaccia bread made with bacon and herbs. Desserts include carrot cake, flourless chocolate cake, white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake along with apple, pecan and pumpkin pies.

Baked goods will be available for pickup at the College’s campuses in Savannah, Liberty and Effingham on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Special arrangements may be made to pick up items on Friday, Nov. 16. For a pick–up schedule, a complete list of items for sale and to place orders, visit www.bistrosavoir.com.


About The Author

Tim Rutherford

Tim Rutherford

Tim Rutherford grew up in rural Kentucky – then left home to pursue more than three decades as a photojournalist and newsman. A ground-breaking meal in New Orleans in 1979 set him on a path exploring food and wine. Six years ago he changed career paths – now spending his time writing about the people and places... more

More by Tim Rutherford


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