Disappointing food at Publick House
Despite being a big beer fan I had never made it over to the P.H. until last night. The beer selection is fantastic. At 7pm on Friday it was PACKED. The whole "queue by the bar for a table" system is really bizarre although perhaps it keeps all of the waiting customers confined to one part of the restaurant.
The waitstaff seemed to be incredibly overworked: i saw at least two tables wait for 10+ minutes just to get the server to take their credit cards (despite the fact that this was holding them up from leaving, and other folks from getting a table).
The menu was certainly more interesting than I was expecting it to be, but I think they are overreaching here. Both of our dishes were pretty lackluster and I would have preferred a decent burger and fries (which is what we should have ordered, I guess). Had the moules frites as an entree and the moules were, well, underflavored and a bit overdone. And the moule-to-frites ratio was pathetic: they could have easily have served twice as many frites with the dish.
DH had the confit duck strudel (a special) with duck meat wrapped in filo dough. I tried it and the duck was incredibly DRY - almost difficult to eat - and had very little flavor. It desperately needed some kind of sauce.
Oh yeah, and it too nearly 30 min. for our food to come out once ordered. Two other parties sitting near us that were seated after us had their food a good 10 minutes before we did. (To be fair the waitress did warn us that the moules frites could take some time...)
We should have gone to Deep Ellum instead where the beer list is nearly as good and the food is far better... OH WAIT ... forget I said that since I would hate for it to get too crowded there :-)
I think you hit the nail on the head: overreaching. I love the beers at Publick House, but it has no business serving dishes like confit duck strudel.
I typically would order a burger there, which was usually pretty good and the fresh cut fries were great. However, the queue thing, along with the dreadfully slow service, kept me from going there regularly.
I go to the Publick House a lot and usually enjoy what I order. The "pub classics" (burger, fish and chips, basic salads) are first class, they run a good fryer and I also like some of the Belgian food. I had the stoempe saucisse recently and it was very tasty - great masked potatoes and excellent sausage patties. Some of the more "restaurant" style entrees fall flat from time to time. I find the "micro frites" with the moules strange but I guess they're trying to keep the portion small plate/appetizer size. My wife finds the moules & frites plus a salad a perfect dinner.
The lines and the waiting system can be insane, but within a month (apparently their new taps are stuck in Customs) they will have more seating and a hostess. Some of the lines can be deceptive - as a couple we usually sit fairly quickly (15-20 minutes), but larger parties (more than four) can wait a long time. Candidly, this bothers me much less than the common Boston restaurant game of giving you absurdly short wait estimates and then leaving you cooling your heels (and running up a tab, they hope) at the bar for an extra half hour. The waiting to pay is a huge problem in so many places that I wonder if it is almost unavoidable.
The beer selection is probably the best in the region, the tap lines are clean, the glassware appropriate and the staff generally pleasant if harried. I go back again and again for the beer, for good food, for decent service and for the beer. And did I mention the beer?
The Publick House does get really busy, that's why I usually go there before 7pm for dinner or even just beer (though Saturday and Sunday afternoon's are quiet and nice). I like their servers and can't think of a time I've been unhappy with the service. The beer selection is great, the atmosphere is really good, and I think the food selection is better than any comparable pub in town (I like Matt Murphy's but have only been once so far). I've read a couple of times about Deep Ellum now but haven't been there yet, seems like it isn't really T-friendly which I prefer.
Deep Ellum ought to talk to Google, Google Maps has their location as 263 N. Beacon, which is nearly at the river and quite far from the T (especially in this weather), but the Deep Ellum website says 477 Cambridge - which is definitely closer to the B line, still a walk in cold weather. Their beer list does look good though.