Last Thursday, I had the honor of having Executive Chef Brad Farmerie to cook for me and my friend at Public. It was an honor especially the fact that he took his time from his busy schedule, as he had a newborn daughter a few weeks ago. (Congratulations again, Brad!) Meeting him prior to dinner service, he was very gracious and asked if there were preferences for us to try on their current menu but we let Chef Farmerie take the wheel. (Just to note, the tasting menu seen above was sent to me the day after.)
The bread selection was pretty good. Fresh baked bread set in a silver bowl, our server told us the night’s selection. My friend had a slice of country white bread, while I had a square of focaccia and a cumin flavored roll. The focaccia had great flavor but the texture was a bit off, as I think it wasn’t kneaded enough that the gluten didn’t form properly. The cumin roll was very good though. It’s lightly flavored with cumin and the roll was properly made that it had a nice chew.
Since my friend ordered a glass of Hakutsuru Jenmai Ginjo, my waiter inquired if I would like to have a drink? I’ve expressed the fact I don’t drink much, the waiter replied that their bartender is very creative and can make a really good non-alcoholic drink (or what he called it “mocktail”). I agreed and told the waiter I don’t want to see cilantro in my drink but herbal infusions are welcomed.
Lo and behold, the bartender created a blackberry, Thai basil, yuzu smash. This was arguably the most interesting virgin drink I ever had. It’s fruity without being overtly sweet and the basil and citrus flavored it to the point that it’s refreshing and earthy at the same time. Even my friend thought it was a very good concoction.
The mushroom ceviche with miso aubergines and ginger ponzu sauce looked simple but complex in flavors. Silky, thinly sliced, king oyster mushrooms topped with supple aubergines that has an interesting fermented, salty flavor in the background.
Next up, raw Tasmanian sea trout with picalilli and a three slice pile up served with a side of grilled sourdough with large caper berries. The sea trout was sublime; pristine fish that’s silky, fatty and delicious gently flavored with the pickled vegetables (cauliflower is the main part) to enhance the fish with a hint of crunch. The sourdough bread was a good side. Nicely charred from the grill and it had a briny, salty kick from the caper.
Then a seafood trio of beautifully plated appetizers graced before us: Grilled scallop with sweet chili sauce, crème fraiche and green plantain crisp, Fried Hama-Hama oyster with shiso, sansho pepper, and wasabi-yuzu dipping sauce, and Marinated white anchovy on quinoa croquette with spicy saffron aioli. Started from the white anchovy, this fish was not fishy as one would expect from an anchovy. It’s very light and acidic and the quinoa croquette added crunch and heft to the dish.
Moving to the center, of the fried Hama-Hama oyster, this was simply the best friend thing I ate! The oyster was greaseless and the coating was super thin with a whisper of crunch (was told it’s a beer batter), that all you can really focus on was the creamy oyster. I have to say, it’s an incredibly sexy bite. The shiso leaf added an earthy minty flavor.
The grilled scallop was perfectly cooked. The plantain chip added some sweetness and crunch, while the sauces played along with the sweetness of the scallop and the creamy crème fraiche gave it a subtle sour tang.
When our waiter brought us this dish and told us it is chicken liver crème caramel. If he didn’t tell me that, I would have presumed it was simply flan with bacon (since everyone is adding bacon to almost everything). Farmerie definitely added some whimsical touch to an underutilized or an unloved organ. For someone who used to dislike chicken liver, this was an amazing dish. The flan was rich, creamy and definitely tasted like chicken liver. The bacon added a smoky, salty kick and the plum added some subtle sweetness. This was one of the top three dishes of the night.
Moving almost toward the end of the meal, the New Zealand venison loin with Cabrales dumplings, oyster mushrooms and salsa verde was beautiful. As my friend said after taking a few bites, “This transported me to Australia – and I have never been to Australia.” I agree with his statement. The venison was cooked to a medium-rare, tender and juicy, while the Cabrales dumpling (basically a large gnocchi made with the Spanish blue) was a good pairing. It’s rustic yet beautiful like Australia.
As we’re about to head to dessert, the waiter presented us palate cleansers of a palate cleanser consisted of a duo of sorbets to share – passion fruit and dark chocolate sorbet. The former was really tart and really wakes up your palate. The chocolate sorbet was intensely chocolate-y and complex.
As for dessert, the sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac ice cream and hot caramel sauce was well made. It’s moist and dense with the dates blended into that cake batter. The caramel sauce and Armagnac ice cream are traditional pairings and well executed. The caramel sauce had a lot of depth without being too sweet. The yuzu-lime tart with coconut meringue ice cream and lemongrass sauce was something I was looking for because it’s balanced between citrusy, tart and creamy without being too rich and saccharine.
At the end of the meal, we thanked Chef Farmerie for cooking this amazing meal.
If I had to compare the meal I had at Convivio and this meal, as they are both 1* rated Michelin restaurants, I prefer this meal. There’s so much more love, care and creativity into the food.
To see all the photos of this meal, please scroll through the slideshow below.