One of our main goals is to uncover those almost hidden places like Public. The hunt can be tantalizing, and the rewards are often far above our expectations. Many times it is the background story that adds an extra layer of mystique to one of our destinations.
Our visit to Public was a great compliment to our itinerary. We had spent our first two nights being the guests of the Hotel at Old Town. It made a good home base for many of our excursions, and even had lots of places to explore within walking distance. Public happened to be about a half block from our hotel, so it seemed to be a perfect fit for the itinerary. We had a tour of a nearby museum in the afternoon, so hitting up Public for lunch made lots of sense. Fortunately, we had made arrangements for our visit, since the place was packed with diners. Most appeared to be locals taking a lunch break from the nearby businesses.
The Old Town area is a collection of converted warehouses and factories, which were built in the 1800’s. Just entering the building you could feel the age, and it added tons of ambiance to the experience. We were quickly seated, and started to review the menu. The owner sent a tray containing Yoder salami, horseradish cheese, and toasted bread slices to our table. This gave us something to nibble on while we decided. There was also a small jar of homemade sweet pickles, which were delicious. On our servers next visit, we discussed some of the menu items.
Crystal was in her salad mood, and chose the house version. The greens are peppered with walnuts, goat cheese, dried cherries, and bacon crumbles. The whole thing is then tossed with a balsamic dressing. Our server suggested that Crystal may wish to add grilled vegetables to the dish. This is not something I ever thought she would agree to, but much to my chagrin, she agreed. I figured there would be some type of bell pepper involved, and she has always declined the ones I have grilled. As she started eating , I waited for her reaction. She loved it. Bite after bite, she savored this new addition. I’m guessing that I will get her to eat the ones I make now.
I noticed their Cuban sandwich on the menu, but I had just eaten one of those the prior evening. Instead I was mulling around the idea of ordering the Bahn Mi sandwich. It comprises sweet & sour Hoisin sauce flavored smoked pork, which sounded completely different than anything I could remember. Our server said it was one of her favorites, and assured me that I would enjoy it. Alright, let’s go there. Topped with Cilantro, Jalapeno peppers, and a scrumptious sauce, this sandwich was so good I didn’t want to set it down to take a drink. Adding the sweet potato fries to the meal was an absolute genius idea. Good thing our server thought of it.
After our meal, Brooke, one of the owners, came out to meet us. As she explained the story of the restaurant, she led us to an attached outdoor venue. Named The Brickyard, this area is used to host outdoor entertainment events. It even has a “food trailer”, which works like a food truck to serve the outdoor crowd. This space is also used for weddings, rehearsal parties, and charity events. It makes a great addition to the main restaurant. We walked back through the restaurant dining area, and Brooke gave us a short history lesson of the building. Evidently it was at one time a coffin factory. She even toyed with the idea of naming the place “Coffin”, but second thinking prevented this from occurring. We decided that the name doesn’t really matter when you serve such delightful meals.