Sunday, August 05, 2007


I'd been walking by Public a couple times a month for more than a year before I ever got around to making a reservation. From the outside, the restaurant's decor was intriguing: towering ceilings, exposed stonework, and funky lighting lend the space an industrial look. So much effort is put into the look, however, that I had assumed Public to be the sort of restaurant where diners pay to eat in a nice-looking restaurant with nice-looking people, never mind the food. Luckily, a friend's recommendation led me to challenge that assumption one Saturday night in March.

Public is a four year old restaurant in Nolita (location) serving "Australasian" cuisine, which encompasses a wide variety of seafood and Southern Hemisphere meats. I get the impression it has passed its peak of "buzz", which is great for the diner: it's not very difficult to get a table and the service was excellent.

We started with the grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce and crême fraiche and the cured wild boar with Garrotxa cheese. The scallops were the highlight of the meal, with a perfect crispy char on the top and bottom that soaked up all the flavors of the dish.

Our main courses were the braised lamb shank and the mushroom-crusted venison loin. The lamb was on the dry side, but the venison was moist, tender, and not excessively gamey. The diners the next table over were busy raving about their pan-seared New Zealand snapper. The wine list is broad, but trends expensive. We tried a Semillon from L'Ecole No. 41, a Washington vineyard.

The service was good, and most notably, the waitstaff was exceedingly polite. I realize that I've spent enough time in New York that I've become inured to casually rude service at finer restaurants; our waitress at Public stood out for common courtesy and a smile. I've already returned once, and it's on my short list of places to take friends and family.

DON'T MISS: The grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce and crême fraiche.

NEXT TIME: I'll write about The Monday Room, a wine and small-plates bar located above Public through an entrance behind the host's table. They have reasonably-priced wine tasting flights and an extensive selection of wines by the half or full glass.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Shake Shack

The Shack of Shake
Originally uploaded by Ozzdo

Sarah, Matt Mendell and I had dinner at the Shake Shack last Friday. A warm summer evening on the grass, under the lights, in the middle of a crowd has a particularly New York feel.

Madison Square Park has really grown on me during my time in New York. It has the Shake Shack, public art installations, live music, benches and lawns for relaxing, a younger crowd, and most importantly, a dog run. The park is totally different from the way it was ten or fifteen years ago, when it was a dangerous, run-down and overgrown site that most folks stayed away from. Not all of the changes to New York in that period have been good, but it's hard to argue with this one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Li Hua Korean Cuisine

Li Hua is a tastefully modern Korean restaurant at the corner of Grand St & Center St in Chinatown. The dining space is open but quiet, well-suited for lunch with a few friends. The kitchen serves up high-quality Korean classics like gopdol, bibimbab, scallion pancakes and ribs at downright reasonable prices -- entrées are $10 to $15. The bowls of "little eats" that come out at the beginning of the meal are appetizing even to Korean-food neophytes. I also recommend the warm house sake, even at lunchtime, even if you've never had sake.

VERDICT: Much better than Manna Express off Union Square. If you have a Korean lunch itch that needs scratching, try Li Hua.

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords, a new show on HBO about the tribulations of a two-man band from New Zealand, is pretty funny. The first episode is online, as is their first "music video":

You can see the complete first episode, too.