Brunch at PublicTaken place on January 3, 2010.
Standing outside the breezy, insanely cold Sunday morning, I was invited by Hagan to join him on his ambitious food project called 93 Plates. Partially, I was regretting saying “yes” to drag my butt out of my warm bed but I refuse to be a flake, suck it up like any other New Yorker (or tourist) who’s walking outside, and travel out to Nolita.
Since I arrived a bit early, I defrosted myself and soak in the interior of the restaurant. Open layout, loft-like, with an Industrial look. It looks Euro-cool to me for some reason.
Once Hagan and I met and sat at our table, the amuse bouche for this brunch were mini scones. It’s made within the restaurant since it tasted very fresh and crumbly like a biscuit with crisp edges. I liked the nutmeg hints mingling with the raisins.
After Hagan and I ordered the dishes we wanted to eat, we’re bestowed with fruit salad with rosewater and sweet tahini yogurt. Initially, I didn’t realize the yogurt that topped this salad contained tahini (no one told us what it was except it was “the kitchen’s compliments”). I did taste something nutty and it’s unctuously thick like Greek yogurt but strained out more whey from the curd.
When we moved on trying out the side dishes prior to eating the main courses, the grilled chorizo wasn’t bad yet it wasn’t great either. (I had better chorizo at Casa Mono.) It lacked the complex spices or interesting nuances that make me aping for this pork sausage. The chorizo here was fine; the saving grace was the smokiness being grilled or I would’ve completely dismissed it.
The quinoa hashbrowns were surprisingly delicious. As Hagan said, it tasted like “a cross between a latke and a falafel”. It’s made of grated potatoes and cooked quinoa then either deep fried or sauteed until golden brown delicious.
My tea smoked salmon benedict sounded amazing on paper but the actual thing was a bit disappointing. The yuzu hollandaise lacked any yuzu flavor. The salmon was perfectly cooked but nothing special. The funny thing is, this entire dish was fat (buttered spinach), on top of fat (poached eggs), with extra fat (hollandaise). What I really liked out of this entire dish was the well poached eggs. Mmm… yes, I like my yolks runny.
Hagan and I split the coconut pancakes topped with fresh ricotta, mango salad and ginger lime syrup. The pancakes were crisp on the edges and fluffy, stuffed with a good amount of coconut flakes. The ricotta cheese was a nice touch to add some creaminess. The ginger lime syrup made this dish, playing along the tropical theme.
Hagan’s Turkish Eggs was under the recommendation of our waiter. This concoction was composed of two poached eggs on Greek yogurt with kirmizi biber butter was a side of two thick grilled slices of country bread. This rustic, peasant dish was very good. The spicy (paprika or cayenne pepper) melted butter, smother it with some of the creamy yogurt and runny egg yolk on the crunchy bread, this was quite satisfying.
I do recommend Public for an unusual, eclectic brunch (compared to the typical American fare). Good energy and vibe about this place and not too scene-y. My favorites here are the quinoa hashbrowns, Turkish eggs, and the pancakes.