I figured that enough time had passed to get a critical view of this hot new restaurant in town called Public House. Nestled in one of the lower floors of the Venetian, it fits right in with the rest of the reastaurant row crowd, almost to the point that makes it hard to find. When found, however, you’ll not want to leave.
The Public House is another restaurant headed by the great Anthony Meidenbauer, the first two being Holstein’s in the Cosmopolitan and The Barrymore, which we raved over previously. It seems you can’t throw a fork here in Vegas without hitting some of Anthony’s interesting cuisine. It seems like Public House is the middle ground between the burger themed, almost sports-bar environment at Holstein’s and the cushy old-Vegas swank of The Barrymore. While personally I have no upper limit on the ol’ swank factor, the relaxed atmosphere of Public House is perfect for sampling their extensive beer list, bar bites, curiously crafted cocktails, or enjoying their interesting lunch or dinner items.
My dining companions and I stopped in with the intent on a cocktail hour, light snacks, maybe a bite of dessert. If I had known just how addictive their Poutine was, I would have gotten a proper table and sat down for it. The duck confit and large, fresh cheese curds made for one supremely indulgent bowl. Needless to say, of all the things we started with, this went the first. We also had the grilled octopus salad, with Romesco sauce and white bean salad. Very similar in construction to the grilled octopus a the Barrymore, except for it’s preparation. This one was, although still done properly, didn’t quite measure up to the perfectly done version I had weeks prior. I’ll chalk this up to how monumentally finicky cooked octopus can be.
The Bouchot Mussels, in a wit beer, shallots, bacon, and creme fraiche broth, was amazing. Despite the bizarre concoction, there is a distinct kind of old-world freshness to it, almost reminding me of big Italian family reunions back east. At about this time, I received my beer flight, the “Big and Dark”. This included little half-pints of Rouge Hazelnut Brown, Arrogant Bastard, Lost Coast 8 Ball Stout, and Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter. The more studious among us will remember a beer cocktail using the Black Butte not too long ago. I believe they all paired fairly well with our heavier, richer foods. The flights in general could benefit from some more interesting and lesser known brews, however. A flight is a great way to sample new and interesting things, and with such a great selection of bottles and taps, I would have thought they could be just a little more risque.
One thing that I did not particularly enjoy was the selection of pickled vegetables. I realize that this can be a tricky process, but it seems like the pickling process left some things untouched, and others nearly decomposed. An interesting premise, and most definitely one that has some potential, fell somewhat flat. As if vegetarians didn’t have enough trouble with on-strip dining!
Towards the end, we were still eyeing the entree menu with hunger, so we decided to split one of their burgers, and end with a cocktail. My cocktail was the Funny Guy, another item sharing space at The Barrymore. The Zaya Rum, Cointreau, fresh OJ, and old fashioned bitters make for a really tasty, almost tropical drink. Now I’ll just have to go back to The Barrymore to compare! Unfortunately, I doubt they do take out cups.
The PUB Burger has bacon marmalade, gruyere cheese, roasted tomato, and a Guinness aioli. There are plenty of things going on in this burger, but they are all choreographed to say “CREAMY AND SMOKY”. For once, bacon isn’t being shoved into every orifice in your head, but rather just tinges the flavor a bit, working with the guinness and gruyere to compliment this perfectly done burger. Furthermore, after this burger, I’m going to have to try roasting tomato for my own burgers at home. I feel it brings out that rich tang of a tomato so much better.
There is much more for me to try at the Public House, so I’ll have to go back soon. I know, such a chore! Next time, I’ll be preparing myself for a full meal, and not just teasing myself with appetizers.
View the menu at publichouselv.com