Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Public House - Norfolk, VA

The Public House, Norfolk, Virginia Logo The talented owners of Bardo and Still opened the much anticipated Public House earlier this year.  After months of serious renovation, Public House opened to welcomed arms of the Ghent community. My initial visit was a few weeks into their opening and I had a shot of cherry vodka and the Apple Cranberry Crumb Strudel which comes with goat cheese ice cream. The ice cream made this dessert unique. If you like goat cheese, go for it. Service was good this night, but I had heard a few people mention it was a little spotty during the first week or so. I had wanted the Moon Pie dessert as that had gotten good reviews, but PH was out of that a few other things that late in the evening so close to their grand opening

My next outing involved dinner. The meal began with the Antipasti which was good and I chose the Butternut Squash & Quinoa for my meal. I thought this was a great lighter option at PH and very different, definitely one of my favorite entrees there. My dining companion enjoyed the opposite, the Waffle-Battered Chicken Breast, which comes with a blueberry maple syrup. He said it was good, but was not as enthralled as the server expected. At the beginning of our meal, I asked the server to save a Moon Pie for us. I was on a mission to have this dessert. Presented on a rectangular plate, two chilled moon pies are drizzled with white and dark chocolate sauce as well as a cut strawberry. I was pretty amazed by this, but it is does not come out soft and gooey. Because it is chilled, the marshamellow center is more firm than some would expect. Similar to the entrees, I was overly pleased and my companion was not wowed. He did enjoy a few O’Connor’s brews, which are always offered at PH. Service was fine this time, but it seemed to take too much time for things like water refills. We sat in the dining room in the back on this occasion and I wonder if that had something to do with it (see my patio dining experience below).

My third experience at PH was on a Friday night. My friend, Chrisselle*, and I sat at the bar because there were two seats available and the wait for a table was 30 minutes. She ordered the Butternut Squash & Quinoa after I raved about it, while I opted for the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. We split the Blue Collar Mac & Cheese and an order of the regular fries. The mac & cheese is very rich, superb and has a sharp, delicious bite to it. After relaxing for a while, I caved and ordered the Cheesecake of the Moment, this moment being an orange one. I loved this - orange is my new chocolate. The bar is full and there are quite a few people standing around drinking and socializing. I like it - feels like a bigger city restaurant/bar, which is typically my preferred atmosphere if I am out to see friends and hobnob.

The Public House dish: Apple Cranberry Crumb StrudelThe Public House dish: Blue Collar Mac and Cheese

The Public House dish: Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Charlotte* and I ventured into PH on a Thursday a few weeks ago. She had not yet dined there and of course, I was ready to go back since this was my new favorite place. I had eyed the Chick Pea Burger on the menu and decided that was the calling of the night. Served with Granny Smith Apples, as all of the sandwiches are, this ‘burger’ is a great vegetarian dish and preferred by quite a few PH employees from what I gathered. The Charmoula, a traditional Moroccan sauce, that topped it was nothing less than spectacular. I added a slice of provolone for good measure and was ecstatic about my meal. Charlotte ordered the Roasted Pork Tenderloin which was wrapped in Applewood bacon and served with mashed potatoes and Parmesan encrusted corn on the cob. I tried the corn, it was top notch and something to definitely try on the grill at home. Charlotte was overly pleased and even had leftovers for lunch the next day. We decided to share the Cheesecake of the Moment, which was a Strawberry Nut variety, topped with a bacon caramel sauce. Since I do not eat bacon, they gave Charlotte the full sauce and gave me caramel sauce. That worked really well and I appreciated the accommodation.  The cheesecake was decadent as it had been the previous time I ordered it. I like this ‘of the moment’ business - something new all the time.

The Public House dish: Chick Pea Burger

The Public House dish: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

The Public House dish

Chrisselle and I decided to head back up to PH on a Wednesday evening, this time we chose to sit outside. We were seated immediately, but apparently, there was a communication breakdown between the hostess and the wait staff, so we did not see our waiter for about 10 minutes. We were not in a hurry, but it was a tad irksome. When our waiter did come over, he apologized profusely and our service was stellar after that, so we did not hold a grudge. We started with the Asparagus Fries which are of the tempura style - deep fried goodness. I really liked the lemon aioli but like cowbell, the dish needed more sauce. PH has a few salads and I decided to give the Shrimp & Spinach salad a try, substituting the Gardein Chicken for the shrimp. I like that they have Gardein on the menu to use on a lot of dishes if you are not a carnivore. The avocado cucumber dressing makes this salad. If you are starving, do not order a salad, but if you are looking for something lighter, this one is a good choice. Chrisselle ordered the Slow Braised Short Ribs, which came with asparagus and mashers.  Like Charlotte’s pork tenderloin, this dish is large, in charge and not for the faint-hearted. We were full and skipped dessert for once, but still left happy and satisfied.

The Public House dish: Asparagus Fries

The Public House dish: Gardein Chicken and Spinach Salad

The Public House dish: Slow Braised Short Ribs

Next up was lunch with Laine.  It was Friday and we were ready to get out even in the rain. Sticking with my goal to try everything vegetarian on the menu, I sought out the Gardein Chicken Sandwich. Clint, the manager we chatted with, said the curry carrot relish made this sandwich worth trying. He was right and PH does not disappoint with the variety of sauces in their dishes. It had a little heat but the sweetness of the carrot balanced it perfectly. I decided to have the Gardein fried (you can also choose regular chicken and then grill or fry either). Gardein fried pretty well, I must say. I had raved about the Moon Pie to Laine, so that was on order with Clint. It was even better than the first time I had it. Laine and I talked about it non-stop for about a week to everyone that would listen. Much Moon Pie Love here and we will have another very, very soon. The plate was beyond clean when we finished. Service was good and we enjoyed our talk with Clint, a super nice guy.

The Public House place settings

I have lost count of my visits and I made it to brunch finally a few Sundays ago. Nikki* and another good friend were my company. I had been out late the night prior, but my crankiness subsided slightly when we entered PH. I was excited about brunch and knew I had to have the Pancakes of the Moment (remember, I love the ‘of the moment’ theme). Blueberry was the flavor and the honey butter and jam made the deal sweet. I tried the Fried Grit Cakes as well and those are good, but not greasy, as some traditional grit cakes can be. These come with crab meat for an additional $5, which is how our friend had them. She enjoyed that version as well. Nikki ordered the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich and said she was not that thrilled. I know Laine thought the BBQ Salad was great the week before, so maybe it was an off day for BBQ.

The Public House
1112 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23517
(757) 227-9064
Open every day 11AM - 2AM
To view their website click HERE

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