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Publick House - Only for the Beer

StriperGuy Jun 4, 2008 11:27 PM

4 of us hit it last night.

Ambivalent service, mediocre food across the board, would not eat there again. I also question if they are pouring enough of all those taps to keep it all fresh on the beer front?

First time for me, and a totally underwhelming experience.

  1. f
    FreshRye Jun 16, 2008 11:38 AM

    I live in the neighborhood and have been to the PH several times. As the combined experience of the other posters would indicate, its a pretty mixed experience. The beer selection is unparalleled for a serious suds drinker. That said, the vibe of the place and its staff is a little too serious, which is significantly offputting. I find it borderline condescending and snotty. (The rant on the back of the menu about not drinking too much yadda yadda is particularly distasteful in my opinion - I understand that they may want to discourage a binge-drinking fratboy atmosphere but there really is no need to get on the soapbox about it on your menu and take the fun out of beer - the prices and absence of crap beer on the taps go a long way to preventing that anyway, in a more tasteful manner).

    On the food side, the simpler dishes seem to be their best, while the larger more intricate-sounding entrees with beer reduction sauces and so forth tend to overpromise and underdeliver. The service has been lukewarm and generally not memorable. It's often overcrowded, though that doesn't bother me much.

    In the end, I would rather walk across the street to Washington Sq. Tavern for dinner. You miss out on the amazing Belgian and German brews, but its a more satisfying experience on the whole with good simple fare, an excellent wine list, and a great bar.

    1. steinpilz Jun 5, 2008 05:44 PM

      It's interesting to read these negative reviews of the Publick House as I do like it. While you didn't mention what was ordered last night I've had many good and satisfying meals, the seafood waterzooi which I've raved about before, the all American burger, some veal chops, calamari, etc... the fries with the mussels have been disappointing as has been discussed on Chowhound. They have made a real effort to include Begian dishes and I enjoyed seeing this.

      It's probably another one of those expectation stories, it is a beer (fanatic's) bar and so a bit informal. I think the food is better than the other big Boston beer spots (Sunset, Bukowski's, Deep Ellum, John Harvard, etc... though Cambridge Brewing isn't bad) but that's just an opinion. The atmosphere and service can vary greatly depending upon the day and time, I go early on weekday nights -- it is very enoyable, not crowded, I also just generally like the wait staff, maybe because I've been there a lot.

      Sorry that it was disappointing.

      3 Replies
      1. re: steinpilz
        jgg13 Jun 5, 2008 09:40 PM

        I don't hate it by any means, but it is a real pain for me to get to (being a central sq denizen sans car). I'm a beer fanatic but not so much that I'll put up with a lot of guff when I can get decent beer selections locally and better food.

        1. re: jgg13
          Joanie Jun 6, 2008 05:32 AM

          I thought it was funny you referred to it in the middle of nowhere, and you're only in Central Sq. 47 bus to the C line. Not too terrible since you can usually count on the 47 leaving when it says it will. But if you're finding the staff rude, then not worth the travel.

          1. re: Joanie
            jgg13 Jun 6, 2008 07:04 AM

            If I really liked the place, the trip wouldn't bug me. When I'm going out that way I do the whole 47 to the green line thing, but its a bit of a PITA when I could just walk ot a place like Bukowski or Atwoods in less time. Neither has the full beer wonderfulness of the PH, but the difference just isn't worth the trek.

            That and I'm pretty lazy and don't typically like leaving the ease of the red line and #1 bus :)

      2. m
        macadamianut Jun 5, 2008 01:21 PM

        I agree with you. I do not understand all of the rave reviews because I took my family for dinner and found the food really bland and average. My husband said the beer was good and I am sure that it probably is but the food was not great. We had sandwiches that the waitress raved about but they had no flavor.

        1. m
          masterson Jun 5, 2008 12:45 PM

          Last time I was there we got shut off after 2 beers on a saturday afternoon unless we wanted to order food. Goodbye Publick House.

          1. pamalamb Jun 5, 2008 09:54 AM

            When I hear things like this, I think I must be eating at a different Publick House. Their veggie burger is literally the best I've ever had, and their mac and cheese is gooey with a crispy top, making it some of the best I've had around these parts. And the servers have always been pleasant and helpful to me, especially when it comes to making beer choices.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pamalamb
              fmcoxe6188 Jun 5, 2008 11:03 AM

              I agree- Ive always had the same experience. Very friendly wait staff, very helpful and some delicious dishes. Ive always had the best experiences there...

            2. l
              LStaff Jun 5, 2008 09:46 AM

              Well despite their shortcomings, I don't think you will find a bar in boston that takes better care of their draft lines or serve a better quality draft product. Plus they don't have that many drafts (in comparison to a place like Sunset where your fears of bad draft beer are a reality) and the place is always packed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LStaff
                a
                A.A. Jun 5, 2008 12:50 PM

                "I don't think you will find a bar in boston that takes better care of their draft lines or serve a better quality draft product."

                I firmly agree. For that matter, I think you'd be hard pressed to many better bars outside of Boston, in this respect at least.

                I'm in there at least once a week, usually with my wife and we usually sit at the bar. Perhaps our experience is skewed by our status as regulars, but the bar staff at least are always very friendly, knowledgable, and honest--- they're not afraid to tell you if they think a beer is a must-have or worth skipping. They always seem to be very patient and happy to offer advice to a neophyte. (If I had to have as many college kids piss and moan at me about how the bar doesn't serve Miller Light or whatever, I'd be a damn sight less friendly and patient than the bar staff invariably is.) My service when we sit at a table is usually fine but not remarkable.

                I don't think people go to the Publick House just for the food, nor would I really expect them to. People go for the beer. That said, I'd call the menu mostly quality, better-than-average bar food, though there are definitely some winners on the menu (mac n' cheese and fish & chips have always been consistently good for me). The manner in which the beer is worked into the cuisine, while not always perfect, is creative and usually works well. Their house-made hot sauces--- when they have them--- are a favorite of mine.

                As a regular, I have definitely noticed sub-par quality in both table service and food a couple of times. If nights like those was my first exposure to the Publick House, I might be underwhelmed or put-off, too. But the quality and variety of the beer alone will always bring me back.

              2. jgg13 Jun 5, 2008 08:39 AM

                I'm with you. I love their beer selection and dedication to beer but I have found their staff to be surly, rude, snotty, etc and their food way overrated. Given that its out in the middle of nowhere (from my perspective) it really doesn't call to me.

                1. Calico Jack Jun 5, 2008 07:03 AM

                  I'm surprised you got a table as it's usually jammed. I've always felt that the food has been very pedestrian and the service utterly terrible. The bartenders and waitstaff always seem annoyed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Calico Jack
                    StriperGuy Jun 5, 2008 07:58 AM

                    We got there at 6:00 sharp. I agree the service ranged from mediocre to pathetic. I don't really see the charm of the place at all.

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