The Public Kitchen & Bar
1 West Liberty Street
– Upscale casual dining and bar
– Moderate (Entrees $15-$22)
– 2.5 out of 4 Stars (certain to improve with time)
We arrived at Pubic Kitchen & Bar at 7:00 for dinner and were seated immediately. Having the option of dining inside or out, we sat inside. The décor is appealing, modern and warm with dark wood tones. On the main floor, there are dining tables and a bar, dining tables on a lower level and dining outside on the sidewalks of Liberty and Bull streets. There is also a rooftop patio. Public is popular, and by 7:15 there was a wait for tables with patrons queuing on the street.
The Public Kitchen & Bar has only been open for several weeks and is brought to Savannah by the owners of Local 11 Ten. Public has a good selection of starters, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts at reasonable prices. Entrée prices range from $15 for the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms to $22 for the Day Boat Catch. The wine list and the selection of bottled and draft beers are well composed and varied. Both should satisfy all but the true wine and beer snobs. Specialty house cocktails and mixed drinks are also offered.
Once seated, our server greeted us quickly and knew the menu and specials well. We ordered a bottle of the Leese-Fitch sauvignon blanc. They were out of the wine but replaced it with the better Les Hexagonales sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley for the same price. We started with the Bruschetta ($9 – crostini, roasted tomato, balsamic onion, basil leaf, shaved parmesan). The bruschetta was lackluster. All the flavors were present, but it was very dry and unappealing.
For our entrees we ordered the Seasonal Risotto ($16 – roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, chevre goat cheese, fresh herbs) and the Day Boat Catch ($22 – mahi-mahi, roasted yellow and zucchini squash, spinach and garlic, balsamic reduction). The fresh fish was excellent and perfectly prepared. The accompanying vegetables were delightful, and the reduction was magnificent. This was a dish I would order again and highly recommend. However, the risotto was one dimensional, bland and starchy. I was hoping for the layers of flavor found in a well-prepared risotto but instead found a chicken bone. Kathy and I commented that the same chef could not have prepared these two dishes. When I discovered a second chicken bone, I commented to the server about the risotto. She asked if I would like another dish and then said the magic words, “We want to make it right and have you not leave hungry.” She was insistent and immediately brought the menu for me to order a replacement dish.
The BBQ Shrimp ($11 starter portion – apple wood bacon grit cake, cheerwine bbq sauce, tumeric oil) replacement dish was served with apologies from the restaurant manager in almost no time. This dish frickin’ rocked! (Can I say this in an Eat It & Like It blog?) The shrimp were incredibly tender with grits and sauce oozing flavors of bacon, Tabasco and brown sugar. This is another dish that I will have again soon and highly recommend.
For dessert we split the Crème Brulee ($7 – with berries). This dish was topped with a ripe strawberry and mint sprig. It was rich and delicious.
For this visit, two of the five dishes left much to be desired. However, three dishes proved very good and left us wanting more. Give Public some time. All ingredients are present for a desirable Savannah restaurant – experienced ownership/management, appealing dining and bar space, outdoor seating, location, thoughtful menu, varied wine and beer lists, and immediate public interest. Once the execution kinks are resolved, The Public Kitchen & Bar will fill the much needed “tweener” space in Savannah between bar/casual dining and fine dining.
I will revisit Public in the near future and update this review. The prediction is positive.
Written by Todd Williams
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