Pub­lic a top spot

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

At­mos­phere:

Pub­lic can’t re­ally fail at­mos­phere-wise on it’s prime Steamer Wharf site over­look­ing Lake Wakatipu. In its last in­car­na­tion as a fine din­ing es­tab­lish­ment, the site was well utilised, but if Wai’s fine din­ing was slightly clos­eted, Pub­lic has thrown the doors open and re­ally maxed out the site’s po­ten­tial. The out­side ta­bles look to be in hot de­mand as we grab the last one, and in a lo­ca­tion this good we only ven­ture in­side once, to pay the bill. From our ta­ble we can see in­side though, and ev­ery­thing looks buzzy and busy – all good signs for a newish restau­rant.

Ser­vice:

Our wait­ress was good – not much chat, but ob­vi­ously had a re­ally good grasp of the menu, and the in­gre­di­ents that made up each dish. We weren’t made to feel overly wel­come – may have been my heav­ily tat­tooed and dread­locked din­ing com­pan­ions, but we’ll give her the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

Food:

The menu is de­signed to share, so kicked straight into the big dishes, as the boys and I were pretty hun­gry. We went for the braised beef cheeks with roasted cau­li­flower and raisins ($22), as no-one had had beef cheeks be­fore, as well as co­conut fried chicken with car­rot and chilli sauce ($22). Also hit­ting our ta­ble was cider roasted pork belly with caramelised pears ($24), and salt baked beets with wa­ter­cress sheep feta and al­monds ($18). The beef cheeks were great – a slightly dif­fer­ent tex­ture than cuts taken off the body, but the resur­gence of tra­di­tional cuts, where noth­ing is wasted, is good to see. This dish in­spired me to buy some beef cheeks from the great Fresh Choice su­per­mar­ket butch­ery. They’re tasty slow­cooked too. Ev­ery­one’s favourite was the co­conut fried chicken for a num­ber of rea­sons, the key one be­ing that it was a de­cent-sized serve. Ba­si­cally we all left still hun­gry. Three main course equiv­a­lents for three was a mis­cal­cu­la­tion on the quan­tity front, and we were on limited time so didn’t or­der more af­ter the first and only round of or­der­ing. I think this could have been ex­plained bet­ter by the wait­ress. The food was tasty, in­spir­ing, but there just wasn’t enough for us.

Ver­dict:

Pub­lic is buzzing. A few fac­tors go into this. The big one is prob­a­bly lo­ca­tion, and lots of lo­cals want to check out the new kid on the block. Pub­lic’s vibe is a great fit for a prime lo­ca­tion, but there’s a few fac­tors to con­sider if you think quan­tity is an im­por­tant part of a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and hate leav­ing a meal still hun­gry, no mat­ter how good it tasted. Any­thing that is de­signed to share, or is not a tra­di­tional main dish, usu­ally needs guid­ance from wait staff and we got no hint that three fairly large blokes might need a bit more than we or­dered.

Maxed: Great at­mos­phere at Pub­lic Kitchen and Bar’s prime wa­ter­front lo­ca­tion.

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