After procrastinating over making a reservation for my SO's birthday and as a result failing to get a table at Gramercy Tavern, Veritas, and Blue Hill, I settled for Public. It was a place we'd always meant to eat at back when it opened but wanted to wait for the hype to die down, and we ended up completely forgetting about it until now.
We got there intentionally early so we could have a drink at the bar, enjoy one of the inventive cocktails (the cinnamon pear bellini was delicious) and take in our surroundings. The restaurant was still only half empty, the bar was basically dead and yet the bartenders seemed to be swamped, it took a little while to order a drink, but when the bartenders were around they were extremely accomodating.
When they went to seat us, it was at one of the tables right along the bar area. I should have known this could get bad, and in retrospect I should have said something especially since this was a special occasion, but the bar was still mostly empty so we took what we were given. We ordered the foie gras and kangaroo for appetizer. Both very good, the kangroo was tender, the foie was matched perfectly with the sauce, I found both the corn pancake and falafel that they were served on to be best eaten seperatly, together the flavors drowned each other out.
Entrees were lamb shank and venison. Lamb was falling off the bone tender and delicious but heavy, especially when combined with the truffled mash. The venison was lighter than I expected and flavored well. Both paried wonderfully with the 2001 Edelson Syrah.
We ordered the dessert platter, which was a delicious sticky toffee pudding (the favorite), a pumpkin panna cotta (the close runner up) and a blah chocolate thing.
Now for my little rant. It was about the time our appetizers came when the bar started to get crowded... very crowded. It was nice to people watch, but still would've been nicer to not have butts in our backs. And the kitchen began to slow down... so much so that it took while between the apps and the entrees. The waitress understood our growing impatience, and tried to accomodate us as best she could, when she could get through the crowd to our table that is.
The pros are clearly the food and drinks, and service was also great, providing wonderful recommendations for both food and wine as well as being generally pleasant. The cons were mainly where we were seated and the entree delay, but mild annoyances that could be fixed simply by requesting another table. If I were to go again I'd make sure I had a different table, not much else I would change.
Thanks for the very good review. You answered your own question. Never settle for an inferior table.
When being seated, change your table immediately if you are not happy with it.
If you have a reservation, in most cases, you should not be seated in the bar unless you request it.
One time we walked off the street without a reservation at the Union Square Cafe and it was fine but it was the only table available and it was nice to get in without waiting.