We Return to PUBLIC


For Lorelei’s second trip to New York I asked William if we could dine at PUBLIC. Lorelei had not eaten there and it had been some years since we were last there. It is hard to believe that PUBLIC is now nine years old. Walking around the restaurant instantly reminds me of dinners and New Years Eve of past. The industrial design has not aged which is no surprise since, for example, the bar is lit by Crouse Hinds explosion proof pendant lights. When I look through my old images taken at PUBLIC time is marked by changing hair, glasses, and clothes. At the restaurant it is marked by a changing menu and newer vintages (and some older!) on the wine list.

We joined William for dinner as soon as the doors opened. An early start maximizes the amount of time Lorelei may stay and we needed as much as possible to sample a variety of Chef Farmerie’s excellent dishes. The bar immediately sent out the St. Thyme wine cocktail. The thyme and rosemary infused St. Germain shows ideal balance between herbs, sweetness, and bubbly acidity from the blanc de blanc. We started with such appetizers as the Parsnip soup in an espresso cup (fun to mix the espresso creme fraiche) , Marinated white anchovies (fresh notes of the ocean), Grilled kangaroo on coriander falafel, and Grilled Kobe beef tongue (grilled bits taste great with the relish).

The least we can do is bring up a couple of bottles of wine to drink with dinner. To start we drank the 2002 Donnhoff, Riesling Spatlese, Norheimer Kirschheck, Nahe. At ten years of age there is a rich yellow color. It is still quite young showing great focus, clarity, and honeyed yellow fruit. By the end of the evening a racy vein of fruit developed giving a hint of its future. The fruit, acidity, and ripeness are impeccably balanced. This will surely make old-bones and is best left in the cellar. ***(*) 2017-2035. While our entrees were prepared we lingered over the bottle while enjoying a dish of vegetables such as pickled carrots and crispy leaves with truffled hummus.

Our entrees consisted of the Mushroom and Ricotta tortellini (beautiful texture), Roasted Chatham cod with manila clams (the clams alone are amazing), and Szechuan crusted tenderloin and roasted belly of Berkshire pork. Intensely aromatic there was no need to tilt my head for aromas filled my nose as soon as I was served. For these dishes we drank the 1999 Rene Rostaing, Cote-Rotie. Having been decanted for an hour or so it showed a strong aromatic personality of earth, minerals, and spice. In the mouth it was refined and elegant with flavors that followed the nose. Fresh in the mouth with plenty of acidity it neither subverted nor was upstaged by our entrees. **** Now-2019.

For our dessert we went with Sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac ice cream, Hokey Pokey ice cream, and the PUBLIC chocolate plate. Lorelei devoured the Hokey Pokey ice cream so I deeply satisfied myself with the Sticky toffee pudding and chocolates. Wine Director Erin Scala surprised us with a trio of New Zealand dessert wines. Having never tried this style of wine before I was excited.

The 2004 Dry River, Riesling, Late Harvest, Craighall Vineyard, Martinborough was floral with controlled ripeness on the nose. In the mouth the elegant fruit had some weight easily matched by the acidity. A wine that may certainly be drunk by the glass. *** Now-2022.

The 2010 Seifried, Riesling, Sweet Agnes, Nelson was markedly different with dry toast aromas, cereal, a hint of berries, plenty of acidity. Not my particular style of wine but certainly interesting to taste. ** Now-2017.

The 2004 Vinoptima, Gewurztraminer, Noble Late Harvest, Ormond was the sweetest of the three with viscous tropical flavors, supporting acidity, and though assertive, it had a seductive personality. I opted for a second pour of this one because it worked will with the Sticky toffee pudding. *** Now-2019.

Jenn loves port so Erin brought her two more glasses. I did not get to try the NV Seppeltsfield, Para Grand Tawny, Barossa Valley for Jenn certainly appreciated the glass. The 1985 Bodegas Toro Albala, Don Pedro Ximenez, Gran Reserva, Montilla-Moriles was thick with fig-like texture and flavors, baking spices, and caramel with good acidity and length. I have no clue how these age. Though it should certainly last for a long time why not drink it now? *** Now-2027.

Spurred by Erin’s excitement about wine at our dinner I contacted her after our vacation. Erin is the Wine & Beverage Manager having joined PUBLIC just over one year ago. Having taken on a developed wine list she has made some small changes like including younger Australian producers such as Some Young Punks. The wine list is predominantly focused on the wines of Australia and New Zealand but does include various selections from around the world such as 1981 Adelsheim, Elizabeth’s Reserve, Willamete Valley and 2004 Contino, Gran Reserva, Rioja in triple magnum. Erin’s most notable inclusion is the Antipodean Influence Abroad page. In keeping with the theme of the restaurant this list features wines made from Australian and New Zealand winemakers in Europe and the US. Through these wines she wants to highlight the growing global influence of Roseworthy and Otago. She is particularly excited by Angela Osborne’s Tribute to Grace Grenache and Michelle Reeve’s David Family Pinot Noir. In the early years the wine list gained vintage depth through lots purchased at Langton’s wine auctions in Australia. Today the auction purchases happen locally in Manhattan. With a reduced focus on Australian wines they may readily win interesting lots to add to the list.

I definitely recommend you check out the PUBLIC wine list and at dinner you should ask Erin for help in picking something new. Bring your friends and curiosity for there is much to recommend. Any enthusiasm will be warmly embraced and nurtured. For those wondering what Erin drinks outside of PUBLIC check out her new wine blog Thinking.Drinking.

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