Friday, August 1, 2008
The Publick House
For the last class meeting, my summer Latin class decided it would be best to get together at a bar of some sort as a sort of reward, and also in hopes that the libations would further assist us in our poetry translations. Brookline's 'The Publick House' was suggested and so it was settled.
I arrived at 6:00, 15 minutes prior to our decided meeting time. A classmate already waiting told me that he had gone in and spoken to the hostess, but that she said she couldn't seat us until half our party was there. Fine. At 6:15, when half of the group had arrived, she proceeded to tell us that she could not seat us until the ENTIRE party was there. With her attitude you'd think our wanting to be seated was so incredibly unreasonable. She then warned us that at least half of us had to have food in order to be seated at a table.
When we finally were "seated" (read: went outside and picked a picnic bench, ourselves) we picked a table on the end since there seemed to be an extra bench. Well apparently that was out of the question and the bench "could not be moved." Later on when we took a chair from one of two unused tables, we were told that they were "just about to seat people there", which turned out to be a lie.
Well by this time we were all certainly ready for some beer, and I settled on a German Hefeweizen draught. This was after I had to go to other tables and get more beer menus, of course. My choice was rather tasty and much-needed, though it had a slightly curious sour aftertaste that I wasn't the hugest fan of. As for food, we first decided on the $6 Publick House frites: "Hand Cut Yukon Gold Potatoes Fried Golden Brown & Dusted with sea salt w/ choice of 2: Rogue Chipotle Ale mayo, habanero mayo, fresh herb mayo, gorgonzola dressing, creamy Wostyntje mustard, Mc Chouffe Garlic Mayo." We chose the gorgonzola and the herb mayo. We also opted for the $14 antipasto platter - an assortment of meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
When the antipasto platter arrived I was pleasantly surprised. For the meats we had a salami of sorts (tasty) and slices of a smoked ham, like prosciutto but thicker and darker. There was a white and orange cheese, the white being a nondescript cheddar (I'm guessing the Grafton Village Aged Cheddar from Vermont, based on the menu desciprtion). The orange cheese was delicious, not too soft but very tangy, almost melting in your mouth. Again based on the menu description I'm guessing it was a Cahill Irish Porter Cheddar. The vegetables included chunks of cut tomatoes with basil, really delicious grilled mushrooms, and then cubes of fried polenta with herbs. Accompanied by bread, I thought it was a nice assortment to be consumed by a sizable group over conversation and beer.
The frites weren't crispy as described, but when it comes down to it, anything deep fried that can be slathered in either gorgonzola or herb mayo tastes just fine, if not delicious. They were presented in an upright cone of paper, with the two dips attached on either side, which I thought was fun. Two other members of our group ordered the fish and chips, which looked really good and was a lot of food, but I did not get the chance to try it.
I eventually had two more beers, the Alagash White (a Belgian White from Maine spiced with curaçao orange peel and coriander, 5%) and then the Alagash Curieux, a barrel aged Belgian style-beer with a higher alcohol content of 11%. I very much enjoyed both.
Unfortunately at the end of our meal we were faced with additional unpleasantness. Again when there was clearly no one waiting to be seated, we grabbed a chair to seat our first-semester professor who had joined us. Well, that was out of the question. When she offered to just stand at the end of our table, it was reported that that, too, was unacceptable due to Brookline law. We made the best of the situation (actually, a number of us just decided to go) and squeezed closer together.
The moral of the story is - The Publick house has a nice atmosphere (inside and outside) and a great selection of beers you might not find anywhere else in the area. The food is pretty good, too, just don't expect any consideration or assistance from the waitstaff. While I was hoping the hostess was perhaps just having a bad day, the general theme of many other reviews I've looked at only tell the same tale of sub-par service. *Sigh*