Tag Archives: duck

PUBLIC: One of the Best Places in Nolita

The other day we were driving around the neighborhood looking for a spot, which is pretty easy in Nolita. While driving up Elizabeth Street we past some of our staple restaurants – Peasant, The Egg Shop, Fonda Nolita (Tacombi), Musket Room… the list goes on. As we passed PUBLIC, we both looked at each other and said how much we missed PUBLIC.

We went to PUBLIC about two years ago when I first moved into the neighborhood – and it is still one of my favorite places to go in New York.

It all started one night when we stopped in to see if there were any open tables last minute, which there weren’t as it was a beautiful spring day and it was busy as per usual. So we went in, asked the host – to which she directed us to The Daily. The Daily was really cool, and I was happy we were able to get a seat and hangout on one of their tufted leather couches, order some small plates and some drinks. This was our first time at The Daily, but definitely not the last.

While hanging out inside the girls couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was inside PUBLIC – and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, The Daily is really cool in it’s own way, but PUBLIC is a sight to be seen. Exposed brick, subway tiles, industrial lights, vintage mailboxes, cool candles, and a glass garage door that overlooks Elizabeth Street Gardens. If you took a woman here and didn’t get laid after, you are doing it wrong. I mean, the owners/designers received a James Beard Foundation award for  Best Restaurant Design @ PUBLIC. Those things don’t come easy…

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So we all decided we would come back to PUBLIC for dinner. Not feeling like waiting on other people schedules, both Nicole and myself decided screw it – we are going by ourselves.

On that night we walked up the block, and with every step I got more and more excited for this SEVEN-times Michelin Stared dinner. To win anything seven years in a row is impressive, but to win the coveted Michelin Star definitely speaks for the amazing place they manage.

We ordered two specials which included a watermelon salad with feta, and a squid ink pasta dish that was unreal. We also split the octopus, because as you can see by now we are pulpo-addicts. The eight legged creature was served with piquillo pepper purée, warm potato salad, pickled chiles and three herb pistou.

For dinner I was stuck between venison, lamb, and duck. We had recently returned from Spain, and while there I had some excellent venison while dining at El Xalet de Montjuïc, which really put me on a venison kick. Lamb, I had the week before at Il Buco, which was also delicious. Which leaves me to Duck, which the waitress assured me was one of their best dishes. She was right, this was one of the best pieces of duck I have had in a long time. I would even go as far as saying it is up there with Gramercy Tavern, which is a legendary dish to me. I have contemplated on many occasions walking up the block, sitting at the bar and ordering this dish again.

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Now about 2 years later, we actually were thinking about doing our wedding at PUBLIC. Yea, we are that obsessed. The space as I mentioned above is absolutely stunning, and the food amazing. We were both so much in love with the place that I considered cutting out some friends and family from the invite list so we can have the wedding there, but unfortunately I was over-ruled.

Since we are not having the wedding here I may have to convince her that we should join the PUBLIC Wine Mailbox Program. As I discussed earlier, there are some vintage mailboxes through out the space. Along with those, some pretty cool keys that unlock them. For $50/per month their Wine Mailbox Program brings you a bottle of wine every month in your very own PUBLIC bronze mailbox. Each artisanal wine from Australia, New Zealand, and around the globe, is hand-selected by Chef Brad Farmerie. But that is not all, you also receive tasting notes, pairings, and sometimes imported food items, and PUBLIC kitchen creations. And, if you thought this deal couldn’t get better – there is more: you will receive invitations to PUBLIC special events and private tastings. Rumor has it, you also receive some special access to their reservation line…

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Balthazar: Most Disappointing Dinner in Months

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For the past few years I would walk by Balthazar on almost a daily basis. When I didn’t walk by it, I could see the red awnings on the corner of Crosby and Spring as I was running to/from the 6 Train. The place is always bustling, usually with people hanging outside by the entrance waiting for tables. Even when you are not in Soho, it is have to avoid the Balthazar, with their trucks driving around NYC. So last night I made two reservations, one at Saxon + Parole and one at Balthazar. Both have been places I wanted to try for a while, and after eating I regretted my decision.

The Good:

I will start with the waitress’s (Pepper) knowledge of the drink menu. For my first beer, she suggested their Balthazar Ale, which was pretty good. She mentioned it was similar to a Bass – and she was dead on. Always like to try restaurant/bar’s proprietary beers. Not really into the Pale Ale style, but I enjoyed it – however $11.00 for their own beer is a little on the high side. In terms of local Soho Restaurant Beers think Toby’s Public House’s Toby’s Cheap Ale is the better move, and half the price. For the wine, my fiancé asked for something similar to Cab Sav, and the waitress suggested Haut-Medoc, which she really enjoyed.

The fries were really good – which makes sense since this is owned by the same group that owns Minetta Tavern.

The Okay:

For one of our appetizers we chose the Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was served with duck ham, heirloom apples, mascarpone cheese, and pumpkin seed gremolata. This has nice chunks of duck, and all the ingredients went together nicely. The second appetizer we ordered was Chestnut and Ricotta Agnolotti with caramelized fennel, country ham, candied orange zest, and brown butter. This dish was okay, kind of like thinner rectangular raviolis but the orange zest was a little too stronger and overpowered the rest of the flavors. One thing I found strange was that the dishes came out almost within minutes of ordering – which leads me to believe these are pre-made and then just heated up, which if so WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CHARGING $21.00/20.00 per APPETIZER?

One of the mains we ordered the Skate, which was pretty large. My fiancé enjoyed it, came with raisins and pine nuts, which can make anything good.

The Disappointing: 

The Duck Confit! I read so many great things about this online, the waitress said it was great … and I  was really disappointed. The meat, which came over potatoes and mushrooms, was extremely dried out. The skin has no real crisp to it, the only flavor I got from it was burnt dry meat. What made it even worse was I was – I was really looking forward to eating good duck. Over the past few months I have had duck at Dirty French, Gramercy Tavern, PUBLIC, Tao Downtown, Hakkasan – all of which were delicious. After reading all the great things people had to say online, and then trying it – I can only guess maybe it was an off day?

The Bread! One of the other things I was really looking forward to was the famous Balthazar Bread. Their bread is highly regarded as some of the best in the city, so why not get excited. The bread came, my eyes light up, and the taste fell flat. It was nothing special at all. In comparison to somewhere like Il Buco, Peasant …etc Balthazar’s bread was subpar.

The Bill

So for the two glasses of wine, two beers, two appetizers, side of fries, two main courses, and one of their deserts – we are talking $201.00 before tip. I would have much rather spent this elsewhere, and I do not recommend Balthazar to anyone. Don’t buy into the hype, there are dozens of better restaurants in the neighborhood – skip Balthazar.