photo by Dominic Perri
If someone led you blindfolded into a restaurant outfitted with accoutrements appropriated from libraries, post offices, schools, you might expect it to front a kitchen that aspires to the lowest common denominator. Now open your eyes: Every atom of this sleek, stylish Nolita space — created by AvroKO, the design firm and restaurant group responsible for a number of posh downtown joints — is calculated for maximum impact. The visual play provides a clue to the exotic, polyglot palette chef Brad Farmerie sends forth from his kitchen. “Seasonal” and “local” aren’t descriptors you’ll likely see on Public’s menu, though surely Tasmanian sea trout and New Zealand venison are in season, and locally procured, somewhere. No matter. The flavors are audacious, the combinations unpredictable, the presentations artful and occasionally ingenious, much like the wine list, which celebrates the New World and the Antipodes in particular, and trafficks in selections from diverse and far-flung Old World regions like Greece, Lebanon, and Hungary. The ambiance is surprisingly casual, the servers are engaging, yet the overall effect is one of elegance and perfectionism. When you’re of a mind to go big or go home — that’s when you go Public.